Decentralization and computerization of ubr in kwale update
ICT supported birth registration
in Kwale, Kenya
Enhancing the community-led
decentralized model for birth
Mika Välitalo / Plan Finland
The current birth notification and registration process – an overview
6. Processing the applications for
certificates is manual and time-
consuming task in the DCRO,
thus delaying the services for
4. In the DCRO the nofitication vefiried, approved and
filed. In case of missing/incorrect information the
notification is returned to the community.
up to 100 km
3. Chief verifies the notifications
and takes them to DCRO (District Civil
Registration Office) approx. monthly.
This takes time and money (Chief has to
pay the expenses from his own pocket)
5. When the notification process
has been completed, the parents 2. An informant (e.g. parent, relative,
can apply for the certificate. For community health workers etc.) makes
1. Mother gives birth to a child notification of birth to the CBO (Community Based
this they need to travel all the
way to DCRO, usually twice (for Organisation) or to the Chief.
application and later to get the
certificate once it has been
Kwale’s District Civil Registration Office (DCRO) manages and archives
all the birth notification as well as produces birth certificates. The population in the district area is estimated 590,000.
Kwale district is has a border with Tanzania which creates challenges to registration system. For example it
can be difficult to know if a baby is actually Kenyan or (s)he is brought over the border in order to
obtain the Kenyan citizenship.
The Kwale office is supported by a Civil Registration Officer
(CRO), one senior clerical officer, two clerical officers and a typist.
Although the DCRO has two
computers running a database
on Microsoft Access, all the
records are still handled and
stored manually. Due to low
staffing and problems with the
database, old records have
not been digitized.
Processing birth notifications
and producing birth
certificates takes a lot of time
and manual work.
Based Organisation office – located
in Kimadzo about 80 kilometers
away from the DCRO. Chief’s office
is located in the same building. The chief and the
assistant chiefs are the official representatives of the
Government of Kenya in each
community. They have a legal
mandate to act as local
authorities regarding to government's
rules, regulations and policies - such as birth
registration in this case.
Community volunteers working
in the premises of Kimazo CBO.
Among other tasks (such as delivering
letters from sponsors) CBO volunteers
are also entitled to receive birth
notifications on behalf
of the Chief. Many people feel it easier
to visit the CBO compared to the chief
e.g. due to high and sometimes feared status
of government representatives.
Birth notification that is done at the community level by CBO or Chief. Currently these
notifications are taken by the Chief to the DCRO every month. Notification does not
yet mean that the child would get a certificate. For that parents need separately to apply
In Kenya, communities are empowered to report births as the system is
decentralized to allow registration and record keeping at (community and) district level. CBO’s can also
have mobile teams that visit remote parts of the community and receive birth notifications to be sent forward.
At the moment mobile teams rely on paper forms.
By law, the birth certificates need to be produced in the district
level. Travelling to DCRO can be an expensive and long journey hindering parents
to apply for the cerfiticate. The cerfiticate itself costs approx. 60 Kenyan shillings,
which is a lot of money for many.
Community meeting on birth registration. Enhancing the birth registration
process has been a community initiated and owned process supported by Plan Kenya.
Stakeholders in the ICT supported UBR project:
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Finland: funding
Plan Kenya: implementation with local partners
Nokia: support and contribution in utilizing mobile technology
Plan Finland: ICT and programmatic support & stakeholder coordination
Focal problem: only 4 out of 10
children are registered
• Poor accessibility of government staff and offices
– due to a) distances b) unvailable chiefs c) fear of gov. representatives d) bribes and corruption
• Slow processing of birth notifications
– due to a) shortages of registration stationary (forms) b) the transportation to DCRO is manual c) no information
channel to notify when possible to apply for the certificate and when to fetch it.
• Slow processing of birth certificates
– due to a) low human resources at DCRO compared to amount of (manual) work b) the payment process is too
centralized c) the demand for the parents to travel to DCRO
• Disjoint administratives structures
– due to a) the delink between birth notification and certificate process b) manual records management c) no means to
cross checking the data during verification.
• Lack of incentives for parents to register their children
– due to a) low awareness on birth registration benefits b) disconnect between the government departments dealing with
registration of persons c) no perceived need for certificates before secondary school d) child marriage is a hinderance
(those practising it do not want to contact officials).
• High costs
– due to a) distance to DCRO b) the cost of the certificate c) movement between government offices (e.g. one needs to
visit a separate office for payment in addition DCRO).
• Manual analysis and storage of data
– leading to poor tracking of records and difficulties to utilize data for e.g. planning and statistics.
How will the project address
the identified problems in a holistic way?
Overall project purpose
Contribute to the increase of the number of children accessing the right to an identity.
Objective 1: Enhance the accessibility of GOK staff and offices
1. Support GOK/DCRO to conduct Awareness in the villages
2. Strengthen role of CBOs in birth registration
Objective 2: Increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the birth registration process
1. Train CBOs/Assistant Chief/DCRO office staff
2. Computerise CBOs /DCRO office. Suggestion to adopt a community resource model
3. Use of mobile phones by the mobile teams to gather birth information
4. Batch BC application through CBOs
5. Streamline administrative processes through adoption of a favourable payment system, i.e. trusted persons
6. Tracking of Process (BC application) through SMS
7. Design / Develop data export / import routines (CBOs to DCRO)
8. Data entry and automation of current and important historical records at the DCRO
Objective 3: Increase the incentives to register children
1. Prior meeting with CBOs/Assistant Chief to gauge their willingness use technology, and to make the birth registration process accessible
2. To lobby for the birth certificates to be a mandatory requirement when joining school i.e. ECCD
3. Support intergenerational dialogues at the villages to bridge the gap between the communities and GOK
4. Support awareness meetings on Child rights
5. Support awareness meeting on Laws protecting children.
6. Strengthen community structures that promote decentralised birth registration – peer learning trainings, through exposure visit,
recognition of best performing registration assistants.
Objective 4: Lower costs
1. Lobby for the waiver of charges levied on birth certificates
Objective 5: Document decentralised model of birth registration
1. Support documentation of birth registration best practices – in print, audio-visual
Objective 6: Advocate and promote replication of decentralised model of birth registration
1. Air programs that advocate and promote the universal birth registration through the Children’s Community Radio in Kwale.
2. Lobby for the integration of policies that revolve around the registration of persons.
3. Conduct stakeholder mapping for community structures that can be engaged in decentralized birth registration process
4. Support networking forums for cross learning.
From the ICT point of view, e.g. increasing the capacity of DCRO to handle the notifications and
certificates is clearly worth wile. At the moment the staff spends several hours of their working time just
to manually search papers from different folders whereas with a functional database and computer this
could be done in a fraction of that time.
Furthermore, the ability for Chiefs and CBO's to acquire, send and store BR notifications
electronically has several advantages in data accuracy, automatic crosschecking of data, speed of
delivery and further utilization of gathered data (e.g. statistics for planning).
Piloting mobile data gathering has a natural entry point within currently existing mobile teams that
from time to time visit the more remote parts of the community. At the moment the notification details
are just written on pieces of paper which obviously affects again e.g. data accuracy and duplicates
work effort as the same data needs to be manually copied later on. Being able to capture the data
electronically on a mobile device already on the field potentially improves the efficiency of the whole
In essence, one of the central ideas of the project is to pilot and test an ICT enhanced model for
testing, documentation and replication. Thus, it's also a learning process for all the stakeholders
and based on the experiences from this project we are able to assess the best practices.
Scope of the birth registration project
Collaboration Ministry of Immigration and Registration of Persons (MIRP)
Department of Integration of Population Registration Systems (IPRS)
Joint planning, ICT support & Kwale district civil
capacity building registration office
Five selected communities:
Joint planning, ICT support & Lukore Mangawani Kinango Dzombo Kikoneni
capacity building, awareness
raising, support to community
Location Population No. of households
Lukore location 3129 498
Mangawani location 8886 1206
Kinango location 13235 4200
Dzombo location 35904 6373
Kikoneni location 17458 3503
TOTAL 78612 15780
Computerization of national civil
Web-based system that can
Civil registration system
In September 2009 the Department of Integration of be accessed via web
for births and deaths browser (computer/mobile)
Population Registration Systems (IPRS) announced
that a national web based civil registration
system will be established already by February
This project will support the launching, piloting and connection
incorporating of the new government supported
system during CY2010. District
There will be no need for Plan Kenya to develop a
separate Birth Registration System Model.
IPRS recommended that Plan could support rolling
out the new birth and death registration system by Internet
enhancing the capacity of DCRO staff, Chiefs Birth notifications are directly
and Assistant Chiefs and CBOs to use ICT and entered into the national system
by assistant chief via web. DCRO
internet so that when new web based system Assitant will get notifications and can
becomes available, they can immediately start Chiefs/ approve them via the same
system. No local software needed
piloting and benefiting from it. This request is fully (CBOs) except web browser.
aligned with the original project plan.
Nokia Data Gathering
1.Installation of the computers at 5 CBOs, DCRO office
2.Computer training CBO officials for 5 pilot CBOs, Chiefs/assistants/volunteer
3.Historical Data Entry
4. Piloting mobile data gathering of birth registrations
5.Air programs to promote UBR through FM radio station(continue through to 2010)
6.Awareness meeting on Child Rights including laws protecting children in 14 CBOs(continue through
to 2010) The software for data entry cannot be available until Feb 2010 when the Government
plans to commission the BR project. During this period, the DCR office will be completed with
electricity and LAN having been installed.