By John Ikani
As the world commemorates Civil Registration and Vital Statistics Day, the United Nations Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF) has informed that Nigeria has more than 50 percent of births of children under the age of five still unregistered, saying this has contributed to the 11 percent of unregistered births in West Africa.
Chief of Child Protection, UNICEF, Ibrahim Sesay, who disclosed this at a briefing to mark the 2021 Civil Registration and Vital Statistics Day in Abuja, said the existence of accurate, regular and reliable statistics was imperative for evidence-based decision making in any country as well as in emergency response.
Sesay explained that globally, about 166 million children under the age of five were not registered at birth, while millions of deaths go unrecorded in Africa every year. It informed that only 44 percent of children in the continent are registered at birth.
According to the UN Chief, Africa has the lowest birth registration rate in the world, resulting in poor planning for children.
While noting that more than 50 percent of births of children under the age of five in Nigeria are still unregistered, which contributes 11 percent of unregistered births in West Africa, Sesay added that UNICEF had triggered a scalable process of assisting the NPC to strengthen and accelerate birth registration service delivery at state and community levels, with a focus to register about 25 million children between 2021 and 2025.
“UNICEF is supporting the development of a roadmap for digital birth registration to guide CRVS partners, who are seeking opportunities to achieve greater impact, efficiency and efficacy in a digital universal birth registration system in Nigeria.
“There is a clear agenda to optimize NPC work patterns and community level actions for cost-effective birth registration programming employed with the establishment of a network of registrars capacitated to register children using electronic devices at the state, local government, wards and community levels.
“The birth registration is a child’s right to a name and an identity that should not be denied any child. With the setting aside of August 10 as the Civil Registration and Vital Statistics day, we are encouraged that civil and birth registration is getting the attention it deserves as a constituent part of the child’s right to development and protection,” he said.