Civil Registration in Sub-Saharan Africa – A Snapshot
UNICEF and NIP Global are addressing a major cause for concern in Sub-Saharan Africa: exceptionally low birth registration rates. As reported by UNICEF, a staggering 95 million children in Africa are not registered. With 30% of the unregistered children living in DRC, Ethiopia and Tanzania – these countries are the biggest culprits. UNICEF also reports that as many as 120 million children in Africa are not in possession of a birth certificate – and they predict that by 2030, 115 million children who are five years old and under will not be registered. Since registration is the first step in securing a child’s legal status and safeguarding their rights, and essential to any country’s economic and social planning, improving these numbers is vital.
Barriers to Registration
One of the reasons births aren’t being registered is the fact that registration costs money to the child’s parents. Even in countries where it is free to register a birth, there are hidden costs involved, like judicial fees and the costs associated with traveling to get the child registered. Many children are born in rural areas and into poverty-stricken families, who simply cannot afford to travel into cities and towns to register the birth. In many African countries, there is also a general lack of knowledge about the steps needed to register a birth or obtain a birth certificate.
UNICEF and NIP Global – Striving to Improve Registration
Several initiatives geared at improving civil registrations have been implemented throughout Africa. UNICEF is committed to this improvement and is working towards integrating health systems and services with registration, to ensure that every newly born baby is counted and given a legal identity. Through the integration of birth registration with health services like immunization, registration levels should significantly increase. Nip Global is also working towards raising registration numbers by providing advanced technical solutions. The company is installing pioneering civil registration software run from a central national database, geared toward improving registration rates. The registration average in South Africa is 41%, Zimbabwe – 44% and Lesotho – 43% – all countries in which NIP Global is operating.