By EDWIN MUTAI
Each of the 290 constituencies will have a civil registry if MPs approve changes to the Births and Deaths Registration Act.
The Birth and Deaths Registration (Amendment) Bill, 2020 currently before the National Assembly seeks to establish each of the 290 constituencies as a registration area.
There were 111 registration offices countrywide as at 2019 which served Kenya’s population of 47.8 million, translating to 430,630 persons per civil registration office.
“The object of this Bill is to ensure that the Cabinet Secretary establishes at least one registration area in each constituency,” reads the memorandum of object and reasons of the Bill sponsored by Gilgil MP Martha Wangari.
The Bill comes at a time when the government is rolling out the National Integrated Identity Management System (NIIMS), commonly known as Huduma Namba card which will have all the data merged and installed in an electronic chip, capturing details in an individuals’ national identity card, National Hospital Insurance Fund, National Social Security Fund, among others.
The Bill seeks to amend section 5 of the Births and Deaths Registration Act, Cap 149 to empower the Cabinet Secretary to establish registration areas.
“The object of this Bill is to ensure that the Cabinet Secretary establishes at least one registration area in each constituencies,” Ms Wangari said in the Bill’s memorandum of object and reasons.
The law currently requires the Interior CS, by notice in the Kenya gazette to appoint any area to be a registration area for the purposes of the Act.
“The Minister (Cabinet Secretary) may appoint fit and proper persons to be the registrars and deputy registrars for each registration area and a fit and proper person to be the registrar of births and deaths occurring outside Kenya,” section 5(2)(b) of the Births and Deaths Registration Act states.
Ms Wangari wants section 5 of the Births and Deaths Registration Act amended by “inserting the words in every constituency immediately after the word area”. Registration of births and deaths is carried out to establish legal documents provided by the law, which include birth certificates and death certificates.
It also serves as the main source of crucial statistics such as live births, still births and deaths.
Registration of births and deaths is carried out by the Civil Registration Services with the help of assistant chiefs and health workers in the sub-counties (constituencies) and by health institutions respectively.
The department of Civil Registration compiles data from sub-county and heath institutions through the sub county offices, analyses and disseminates the vital statistics.
A performance audit report on the civil registration and dissemination of statistics by the Civil Registration Services tabled in Parliament show that there is lack of effective reach in all the sub counties throughout the country as evidenced by long distances between the applicants, the registration agents and the civil registration offices.
“This limited the members of the public from accessing civil registration services,” Nancy Gathungu said in the performance audit dated September 2020.