By Chika Onyesi
A reliable and functional civil registration system is crucial for monitoring a country’s progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
Foremost among many forms of these official registrations is that of a child’s birth.
This is according to UNICEF’S Deputy Representative in Nigeria, Pernille Ironside.
She was speaking at a dissemination event on the Impact Evaluation Report of Birth Registration in Nigeria
Permille says recording a child’s birth officially by government establishes the existence of that child under the law and provides the foundation for safeguarding the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the child.
‘‘Registering births and deaths is essential for a modern administrative system. It helps to create an inclusive society, protecting human rights, ensuring proper delivery of public services and tackling inequalities’’.
But despite the clear importance of ensuring the registration of every child’s birth, Nigeria continues to trail behind.
According to UNICEF only 30percent of children under the age of 5 in Nigeria have had their births registered, obviously contributing to the nearly 230 million children under five whose birth have never been officially recorded globally.
This data, is a clear breech of Article 7 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child which specifies that ‘‘Every child has the right to be registered at birth, without any discrimination’’.
According to UNICEF’s Deputy Rep, Nigeria’s rapid population growth requires stronger efforts to ensure that birth registration keeps pace with the growth – especially in the under-5 population.
‘‘We sought this independent impact evaluation of UNICEF Nigeria’s Birth Registration Programme because we wanted to know what worked – and perhaps what didn’t work as well – in our efforts to strengthen the birth registration system in Nigeria’’ She says.
She explains that the finding is a pointer to the direction the agency’s future work will take on the important issue of birth registration to ensure that it delivers results for children by changing their lives for the better.
The children’s charity says it has been working with the Nigerian Government to address systemic bottlenecks that impede birth registration.
‘‘Birth registration is a critical part of UNICEF’s four pillars of child rights programming: survival, development, protection and participation’’.
‘‘And the vital statistics that we gain from a civil registration system provides critical, up-to-date and accurate population-based data that is disaggregated by sex, age and geographic location. This is essential for identify¬ing all groups in need and where we need to put our efforts and resources, to make sure no one is left behind’’.