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Crisis as birth certificate backlog now hits 32,000 in Vihiga

Wednesday July 3 2019

A parent in Nyeri displays a newly issued a birth certificate. file PHOTO | NMG

A parent displays a newly issued birth certificate. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

DERICK LUVEGA
By DERICK LUVEGA
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The number of unprocessed birth certificate applications in Vihiga County has hit 32,000 from 18,700 in February.

The crisis persists with officials saying the backlog dates back to March 2018.

This comes after the government launched a one-month Rapid Response Initiative to hasten the processing.

Speaking at Mbihi during the launch of RRI in the county, Registrar Joseph Owiti said the delay was caused by the government printer.

Only 5,000 applications made in March 2018 had been printed and are ready for issuance to the owners during this month of July, he said.

The backlog of applications is bound to rise after Interior Cabinet Secretary Dr Fred Matiang'i directed that applications for the vital document will be free during the month of July, when the RRI initiative will be taking place.

Usually, a fee of up to Sh150 is charged on each applicant.

Already, the only civic registration office in Mbale is witnessing swelling queues. The county has a population of 600,000 people.

Mr Owiti apologised for delayed processing of applications noting that the delay had been occasioned by the Government Printer in Nairobi.

"I want to apologise for taking long with the applications.  The applications that are yet to be processed now stand at 32,000. It is not our fault and the delay is affecting the whole country," Mr Owiti said during the RRI launch at Mbihi Wednesday.

He went on: "We have now received 5,000 copies of birth certificates from the applications that were made in March last year. They are ready for distribution and we will send them to the offices of chiefs."

The official asked the public not to wait for the last minute to rush applications.

He was referring to parents who wait for schools to request for the document during registration of national examinations and National Education Management System (Nemis).

He noted that RRI will run through the month of July to help curb the glaring backlog. "We want to use this month to clear the 32,000 applications," he said.

He, however, noted that most people in the county were not applying for death certificates, saying this was affecting succession plans and land subdivision.

Mr Owiti further said it was difficult to keep a reliable record of infant deaths in the county as most deaths of children were also not being recorded.

When launching the RRI in Kajiado last month, Dr Matiang'i said the scheme will give Kenyans who have not obtained the document a chance to apply.

“Birth registration is the starting point for the government’s policy and planning. Some Kenyans cannot easily access government services while some children have not been registered on Nemis because they do not have birth certificates and we have set about taking the burden off our people,” Dr Matiang’i said in June.

One of the key pillars of the RRI is to increase the capacity of all registration offices across the country to rationalise the processing and issuance of birth certificates.