Economy

Data on births and deaths inaccurate, says Auditor-General

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Auditor General Nancy Gathungu. PHOTO | LUCY WANJIRU | NMG

Summary

  • The country’s register of deaths and births is inaccurate, a review by the Auditor-General has shown, raising concerns on the appropriateness of national socio-economic planning decisions.
  • Auditor-General Nancy Gathungu said the government’s Civil Registration Services (CRS) is incomplete—raising doubts on the country’s actual population.

The country’s register of deaths and births is inaccurate, a review by the Auditor-General has shown, raising concerns on the appropriateness of national socio-economic planning decisions.

Auditor-General Nancy Gathungu said the government’s Civil Registration Services (CRS) is incomplete—raising doubts on the country’s actual population.

“The audit revealed that CRS has not been able to perform the functions as expected since the registration coverage is not yet 100 percent,” the audit signed by Ms Gathungu notes.

“There have also been delays in the issuance of birth and death certificates,” it says.

A review of the Kenya Vital Statistics report of 2018, indicated that the national coverage for births was 1.1 million, which is 73.4 percent of the estimated 1.6 million births and 192,019 deaths, about 40.5 percent against the expected figure of 473,927.

The audit accuses the Interior ministry, which hosts the CRS, for not availing the necessary funding in line with the approved budget.

For instance, in the 2015/16 financial year, CRS collected Sh111.7 million in revenue but was only allocated Sh64.1 million, about 57 percent for its operations.

In the 2017/18 financial year, CRS collected Sh315.43 million but Sh71.1 million was allocated, about 23 percent of the revenue base.

The CRS service charter provides that it should take two days to process and issue a birth or death certificate in Nairobi and Mombasa and a day in other sub-county offices across the country.

But this is not the case as those seeking registration are forced to wait for months or even years.

Another setback cited is that the government through the CRS has not created a need for the registration despite its importance in national planning.

The citizens do not also understand the need for civil registration and the importance of obtaining birth and death certificates.

The failure to fully implement automated processes and digitisation of birth and death records for increased efficiency has created apathy to citizens who have ignored the exercise despite its national importance.

The report notes that registration happens only when there is a need driven- during registration for national examinations, processing of death benefits or application for travel documents.

This is despite the Births and Deaths Registration Act mandating the civil registration department to register all births and deaths that occur in the country without regard to nationality.

The registration and timely issuance of certificates aids in the provision of accurate vital statistics to different users.