A project six-million-Euro project that will register mandatory children born in eight countries across Africa, Asia and the Pacific, was announced on Thursday in Brussels. The European Union—UNICEF project, announced by United Kingdom Development Commissioner, Andris Piebalgs, seeks to ensure that millions more people can enjoy access to healthcare, attend school and vote in elections for the first time.
A project that will register mandatory children born in eight countries across Africa, Asia and the Pacific, was announced on Thursday by United Kingdom Development Commissioner, Andris Piebalgs.
The joint European Union—UNICEF project seeks to ensure that millions more people can enjoy access to healthcare, attend school and vote in elections for the first time.
The project, announced ahead of a key family planning summit being held in London next week by the British Government and the Gates Foundation, will be implemented in Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Myanmar, Mozambique, Uganda, Kiribati, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands. It will replace existing registration processes, which, when available, are often of such poor quality that records are lost or cannot be retrieved. It is hoped that in a period of three years the gap between rural and urban rates of birth registration would be reduced by at least half.
A total of 6 million Euros will be allocated to the project. On average, at least 150,000 Euros has already been secured for the project in each country. In some countries, resources are also being leveraged from multilateral donors such as the World Bank and the African Development Bank, and the national governments are increasing their budget allocations.
Registration of birth, sometimes known as the ‘first right’ of a child, is a passport to security, protection from abuse and violence, access to education, good health, advancement and mobility for children. The lack of an identity at birth affects people throughout their lives; making them unable to access healthcare and nutrition services, school, marriage registration, protection from abuse and violence or to vote.
According to UNICEF, only one child out of five is registered at birth in Uganda, a figure that the agency wants to raise to at least four out of five children by 2014.
The new registration systems, which for the first time, will make registration free, will use more efficient digital techniques and include mobile technology that allows people to register even in remote areas. They will also help to set up better links with health services – making sure that people are registered for health facilities and immunisation.
Children are often not registered due to difficult access to civil registry services, as well as the cost, both direct and indirect, of registering a birth and long distances to registration centres. Refugees, ethnic or religious minorities, or children born out of wedlock have had particularly low registration rates because of a lack of awareness of the importance of registering a baby. Cultural practices have also hampered the process as children are only named several weeks after birth. Many parents simply do not feel that the need to register their children is as urgent as many other demands they face in their daily lives.
The countries taking part in the project have been chosen due to, amongst other reasons, the high number of children under 5 years old in the country, high numbers of adolescents without a birth registration certificate, and lowest level of birth registration. Also considered are high level of discrimination in accessing basic services due to lack of a birth certificate and, on occasion, the collapse of the civil registration system due to civil war.
On July 11th, the UK Government and Bill and Melinda Gates will hold a major family planning summit in order to generate political and financial commitments from developing countries, donors, the private sector, civil society and other partners to meet the family planning needs of women in the world’s poorest countries by 2020.