Handbook for community-led birth registration in Kenya
The community-led birth registration model documented in this handbook focuses on improving accessibility and ease of registration for births that occur at the community level (home births).
It provides an overview of a process that starts in the community and ends with the issuance of a birth certificate.
It also provides step-by-step guidance for each individual involved in the process: the informant (mother, father, guardian, occupier of the house in which the child was born), notifier (community health volunteer, village elder, assistant chief, chief) and validator and registrar (CRS Registration Officer at the sub-county level).
Birth registration is a right in of itself, laid out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. But that little piece of paper opens the door to a whole host of other rights as well.
“Registering a birth is a critical first step in ensuring the rights of a child. Registration means proof – not only of identity but of existence. A birth certificate is confirmation of a child’s nationality, place of birth, parentage and age. In many countries it is seen as the key identity document, outweighing any other – a birth certificate is often needed to apply for a passport, driving license or national identity card, as the child becomes an adult,” states Plan International’s Count Every Child report.
Having a birth certificate is also a crucial tool for protecting children – especially girls – against exploitation. “Proof of age is critical in successfully prosecuting perpetrators of crimes against children such as child trafficking, sexual offences, early recruitment into the armed forces, child marriage and child labour.”
Globally, an estimated 1 billion people cannot officially prove their identity and 47% of those without a birth certificate are children. (World Bank, 2018).
For people to count, they must first be counted. This is the role of Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) systems which record the details of major life events, such as births and deaths.
Plan International Kenya has been working towards universal birth registration in Kenya since 2005. Our work is rooted in our initial “Count Every Child” campaign where we partnered with the Government of Kenya to conduct birth registration campaigns in communities across the country.
Since then, our work has evolved towards more holistic programming to tackle demand, supply and legislative barriers to achieving universal coverage. As an organisation dedicated to advancing children’s rights and the equality for girls, we have been building powerful partnerships with the Government, donors, local implementing partners, communities and girls and boys themselves to bring about change.
We acknowledge the strong efforts carried out by Civil Registration Services to improve national birth registration rates through more efficient service delivery and coordination amongst partners.
We also share our appreciation for the Government of Canada who has provided funding through Global Affairs Canada to support a 5-year initiative titled “Tulinde Tusome: Creating Safe and Protective Spaces for Improved Learning in Kwale and Kilifi Counties, Kenya”. Through this initiative, Plan International Kenya has worked in collaboration with Civil Registration Services and local partners to implement comprehensive programming to improve birth registration and certification rates in Kwale and Kilifi Counties. The programming approaches and lessons within this publication have been derived from this project and are complemented by our global experience on birth registration.
Our goal with this publication is to share insights and lessons with our allies and critical stakeholders striving to improve birth registration in Kenya. Through our joint commitment, and in partnership with Civil Registration Services, we can contribute to universal birth registration in Kenya.