Investment case for birth registration in Kenya
This investment case has been developed as a practical guide to support partners working on birth registration in Kenya, outlining activities that will contribute to achieving universal birth registration within the country.
The recommendations made in the document are based on Plan International Kenya’s experience supporting the Government of Kenya, through the Civil Registration Services department, with birth registration and certification activities.
In Kenya, the birth registration rate has seen an increase from 67.8% in 2014 to 73.4% in 2018. This increase can largely be attributed to an increase in the number of women delivering in health facilities where the birth registration process is automatically initiated by healthcare and administrative professionals. However, in rural areas which are often hard to reach and distances to health facilities are long, knowledge on birth registration remains low with only 39% of births registered at the community level.
This investment case has been developed as a practical guide to support partners working on birth registration in Kenya, outlining activities that will contribute to achieving universal birth registration within the country. The recommendations made in the document are based on Plan International Kenya’s experience supporting the Government of Kenya, through the Civil Registration Services (CRS) department, with birth registration and certification activities.
Since 2015, Plan International Kenya has worked closely with CRS on the implementation of a project titled “Tulinde Tusome: Creating Safe and Protective Spaces for Improved Learning in Kwale and Kilifi Counties, Kenya” funded by the Government of Canada. This project included an explicit outcome on improving integrated and gender responsive Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) systems and processes for efficient birth registration of girls and boys. Birth registration activities were designed in alignment with CRS’ specific objectives, structured in human-centred design principles and research at the community level, and implemented to address demand, supply and legislative barriers to improve registration and certification rates in Kwale and Kilifi.
The programming approaches and practical lessons from this project have been complemented by Plan International’s global experience in birth registration since 2005. Through Plan International’s Count Every Child initiative, Plan International has helped register 40 million children and influenced laws in 10 countries so 153 million more children can enjoy the right to a birth certificate.
Additionally, Plan International raises awareness in communities about the importance of ensuring children’s births are registered and supports the training of people involved in the process. To implement such work, Plan International works with governments, UN agencies, communities, and the private sector to improve civil registration services using appropriate processes and technology.
Plan International recognises the importance of working with the responsible government department and key stakeholders, and within Kenya, collaboration with CRS is critical; whereby we believe that in order to achieve universal birth registration in Kenya:
- CRS needs support from various partners, working in different parts of the country, to share the workload.
- Activities implemented by supporting partners need to be streamlined and well documented to ensure consistency in the delivery of birth registration services across the country.
This publication aims to demonstrate to partners, the continued viability of both manual and digital registration models, implemented using existing administrative and community structures can achieve universal birth registration. These interventions are part of an integrated approach to strengthen birth registration, including the following 5 key components. These 5 key components complement each other, demonstrating their close interdependency on one another:
- Process and Technology Improvements: Making birth registration services effective, efficient and more accessible through process improvement and the use of technology.
- Change Management: Building the capacity and engagement of individuals across all levels of administration to respond to changes to provide effective and efficient birth registration services.
- Governance, Legal and Regulatory Framework: Advocating for a supportive, rightsbased, and gender-responsive legal and regulatory framework.
- Behavioural Change Impact: Creating and sustaining demand for birth registration through an integrated marketing and communications campaign.
- Monitoring and Evaluation: Continuously improving a model that is scalable and sustainable through rigorous monitoring, evaluation and learning.
An integrated approach to birth registration, as outlined above, is critical to achieving success. Within this document, experience implementing each of the 5 components is outlined inclusive of the challenges and recommendations. This document is intended as a practical learning tool for key stakeholders and partners working within birth registration, contributing to knowledge on best practices relevant within Kenya and promoting transparency in successes and challenges.
Pulling all 5 components into a financial analysis, the document makes the case that an investment is both financially feasible and brings about high returns through value gained in championing birth registration as a fundamental child right and unlocking the potential of women and girls, through improving their ability to claim to rights to education, health, protection, and livelihoods.
Investment in birth registration also enables governments to produce data for effective identity management and e-government services, tracking Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and leveraging civil registration and vital statistics to inform programming and policy development. With these critical gains at stake, not investing in birth registration is not an option.