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More than 50% of births are unregistered in Nigeria-UNICEF

Bukola Afeni

United Nations Children Education Fund(UNICEF) said more than 50% of the births of children under 5 remain unregistered in Nigeria.
While stating that Nigeria alone accounts for 11 per cent of unregistered children in West Africa.

UNICEF Country Representative in Nigeria, Peter Hawkins said there is a need for Nigeria to meet its SDG obligation by providing a legal entity for all children through birth registration.

He stated this as Nigeria joins the rest of the World in commemorating Civil Registration and Vital Statistics Day.

“Every child has a right to a name, a nationality and a legal identity. There is a need to address structural, normative and operational challenges to birth registration.

Every child counts, and we must ensure that we count every child, so that they can best benefit from important services like health and education”.

Globally, the births of 166 million children under 5 have never been recorded.

Children on the African continent have the lowest birth registration rate in the world, with only 44 per cent of children registered at birth and millions of deaths also go uncounted each year.

Hawkins added that there is a need to work together to ensure effective coordination to make this happen.

“Functional systems that allow for the sharing of data across information management databases that are integrated with other vital services are necessary to push the birth registration rate in Nigeria up, and make sure every child is counted”.
The National Population Council (NPC) has identified information and communication technology assets to support effective CRVS systems that are integrated with other governmental systems, such as health and identity management.

“It will ensure the highest standards of data protection and confidentiality of personal data to promote birth registration among civil registration, health, and identity management systems.”

NPC, in partnership with Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) entities, and with support from UNICEF, co-created a Roadmap for Digital Universal Birth Registration in Nigeria.

” It lays out a clear vision, delineates the roles of different government agencies, builds the government’s capacity to deliver, formulates an action plan, sets a timetable and milestones, and optimizes the cost of the digital birth registration process in the country. All of this is in advance of the implementation deadline of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”

SDG Target 16.9 calls for governments, by 2030, to provide legal identity for all, including birth registration. The indicator for the target is the “proportion of children under 5 years of age whose births have been registered with a civil authority, by age.”

Birth registration is a one-off event that gives every child a unique identity that will give them better access to vital services like health, education, and social protection.

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