DATA released by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) indicate that one in four children under the age 5 (166 million), on average, are not registered in the world today.
By Michael Gwarisa
According to a publication by UNICEF called “Birth Registration for Every Child by 2030: Are we on track?” children under five fail to get registration owing to a plethora of barriers which range from poverty, long distance to health facilities among others.
And even when they are, they may not have proof of registration. The reasons are all too common: a lack of resources and investment in accurate and comprehensive civil registration systems, coupled with barriers in accessing birth registration services, along with policy, regulatory and institutional obstacles,” said UNICEF.
A birth certificate, obtained once a birth has been registered, provides children with proof of legal identity. It is considered a ‘breeder document’ necessary for applying for other documents, including a passport. According to UNICEF, providing children with a birth certificate immediately after birth, rather than later in life, is essential to ensuring that they can claim their rights and access services.
“Nevertheless, the data show a large gap between the number of children whose births are reported as registered and those who actually have a birth certificate. Of the roughly 508 million children under age 5 who are registered worldwide, about 70 million lack proof of registration in the form of a birth certificate.”
Most countries have legislation in place that specifies the time period allowed between the occurrence of a vital event (such as a birth) and the obligatory registration of that event.
“Registration should take place as soon as possible after a birth has occurred. Registering a birth within a reasonable time (and no later than 30 days after the event) minimizes the risk of misreporting details or failing to report the birth altogether.
“The last two decades have seen a rise in birth registration levels globally, with about 3 in 4 children under age 5 registered today compared to 6 in 10 around 2000.”
However, progress has been uneven says UNICEF and additional investments will be required to ensure universal birth registration by 2030, particularly among the most vulnerable children. Simply raising birth registration levels is not enough.
“Improvements are also needed to enhance the quality of civil registration systems to achieve universal coverage along with continuity, confidentiality and regular dissemination of data. Civil registration records must be continuously maintained so they can be easily retrieved by individuals. At the same time, the registration process itself must be easily available and accessible to all.”
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