Over 900 birth certificates remain uncollected at the Kajiado County Civil registration offices and Huduma centre.
County Civil registrar of Births and Deaths, Christine Gachau noted that many residents were eager to apply for the vital document, but do not collect them when they are ready and instead wait until they need to use them thus causing a huge pile up.
Gachau, who was speaking to KNA in her office Tuesday, urged locals to collect the birth certificates, adding that some of the documents have been lying in her office since 2019.
“We have over 900 uncollected birth certificates in our offices, some date back to 2019. I want to urge all those who had applied for the certificates to collect them immediately so as to reduce the pileup,” said Gachau.
The civil registrar further revealed that late registration of children was the major cause of registration backlog in the county.
She said many residents do not apply for the birth certificates immediately when a child is born, but wait until the document is needed like during the registration of national examinations or when applying for a passport.
This, she explained, is normally the cause of the long queues normally witnessed in our offices at the beginning of the year as parents rush for the documents to beat the examinations registration deadline.
“Many people do not apply for certificates immediately after giving birth. They come to register when need arises, mostly during registration of national examinations. If the parents can register their child right after birth, the long queues we normally experience would be reduced immensely,” she said.
Gachau noted that one of the challenges they have is that the county is quite vast yet there are only two civil registration offices. One office is located at Kajiado central while the other one is based in Loitokitok town.
“Residents of Kajiado West can apply for the certificates at Huduma Centre in Kisamis, but those in Mashuuru, Kajiado East and North are forced to travel to Kajiado town to apply for the certificates,” said Gachau.
She noted that her department had sent a request for the creation of another office in Ngong town to reduce congestion and save on time spent by residents who have to travel to Kajiado town for the service.
On the issue of digitization of birth certificates, the registrar said the process launched countrywide in 2019 was still on-going and once complete, it would make acquisition of the documents much faster.
Persons born outside the county will be able to apply for the certificates easily and it will cut on costs and save on time spent travelling to the civil registration offices.
“Our office is in the process of scanning the records and availing them online. We only issue birth certificates to children born in Kajiado County but when the digitization program is fully complete, we will be able to serve each Kenyan citizen,” the Registrar added.
The Covid-19 pandemic and the national medical workers strike in late December dealt a heavy blow to the department as the registration of persons was on a go-slow for the better part of 2020.
Gachau said the pandemic scared many people away from public hospitals as they opted to use the services of traditional midwives at home.
“Many children born at home are not accounted for because their parents hardly register them. Our office mostly relies on birth notifications from hospitals to register the masses. Assistant chiefs help our office track home births but lately they have not registered as many as we expected,” she said.
Death certificate application is not common in the county but death registration has seen an improvement from the previous years. Only 19% of deaths in the county were registered in the year 2020, insurance claims and inheritance of property being the main reasons that drove residents to look for the death certificates.
“The community has not fully embraced the registration of deaths of loved ones. Only 109 people applied for death certificates for their loved ones in the month of January. We are planning to conduct sensitization campaigns to raise awareness on the importance of getting death certificates,” said Gachau.
Another reason for the low registration of deaths is the pastoralist nature of the community. Deaths that occur while locals are away in the grazing fields are hardly recorded as burial occurs before one gets a death notification.
by Rop Janet/Mulu Nzivo