The Constitution of Kenya, 2010, guarantees every child the right to a name and nationality from birth. In addition, the country is party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which provides for a child’s registration immediately after birth and the child’s right to acquire a nationality.
In Kenya, childhood statelessness persists due to complex birth registration procedures coupled with the demand for documents that stateless parents do not possess. Intergenerational statelessness is exacerbated by the limited number of birth registration centres in the sub-counties, lack of information on the procedure and requirements to apply for birth certificates, extreme poverty among affected persons, and fear of authorities due to past expulsion threats. These factors, along with some inconsistencies in the process deter stateless parents from registering the births of their children.
Some positive steps have been taken by the Government of Kenya to improve civil registration, including for those at risk of statelessness. In May 2019, the Ministry of the Interior began to collect data to establish a centralized database as part of the Huduma Namba project. This initiative provides an opportunity for stateless persons to be registered with authorities as a person on the territory of Kenya. In July 2019, the Civil Registration Services intensified its effort to increase birth registration through the Rapid Results Initiative. The initiative was an effort to encourage persons without birth certificates to approach Civil Registration centres for application of the same. Additionally, UNHCR and UNICEF partnered with the Government and the NGO Haki na Sheria Initiative to organize mobile birth registration exercises in 11 Early Childhood Development centers. This led to the issuance of birth certificates to 1,524 children.
Furthermore, in 2019, the Government of Kenya pledged to ensure the protection of stateless persons in the country, specifically committing to enact a new Act that provides safeguards to prevent statelessness by 2020. Kenya also pledged to accede to the UN Statelessness Conventions. The realization of these pledges will ensure safeguards in the nationality laws to prevent childhood statelessness.
Two generations of stateless Shona women weave baskets on the floor of their home in the town of Githurai on the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya © UNHCR/ Tobin Jones, October 2017
Improving birth registration to prevent statelessness in Garissa County
– By the end of December 2020, 800 children will have been issued with birth certificates in Garissa County.
– Capacities of the Garissa Civil Registration Office has been strengthened.
– August 2020 to December 2020