50% of Nigerian children not registered at birth, govt cannot plan for them – UNICEF decries

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As the world commemorates Civil Registration and Vital Statistics Day, the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) has informed that Nigeria has more than 50% of births of children under the age of five still unregistered, saying this has contributed to the 11% of unregistered births in West Africa.

The children’s charity disclosed this in a press statement signed by Country Representative, Peter Hawkins, a copy of which was made available in Bauchi.

The United Nations body explained that globally, about 166 million children under the age of five were not registered at births while millions of deaths go unrecorded in Africa every year, it informed that only 44% of children in the continent are registered at birth.

UNICEF says Africa has the lowest birth registration rate in the world, resulting in poor planning for children.

Howkins explained that every child counts, insisting that efforts has to be made to count every child with a view to enabling children benefit from important services like health and education.

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“As Nigeria joins the rest of the world in commemorating Civil Registration and Vital Statistics Day today, it is addressing structural, normative and operational challenges to birth registration.

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

“We 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 world body stated.

While submitting that every child has a right to a name, nationality and legal identity, UNICEF said working together with stakeholders, Nigeria had to meet its Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) obligation to provide legal identity for all, including through birth registration.

“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.

“This 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”

It further stated that the NPC, in partnership with Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) entities, with support from UNICEF, created a Roadmap for Digital Universal Birth Registration in Nigeria.

According to UNICEF, the roadmap laid out a clear vision, delineated the roles of different government agencies, built the government’s capacity to deliver, formulated an action plan, set a timetable and milestones as well as optimized the cost of the digital birth registration process in the country.

The world organisation added that all of this is in advance of the implementation deadline of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which target 16.9 calls for governments by 2030, to provide legal identity for all, including birth registration.

It noted that the indicator for the target is the proportion of children under the age of five whose births have been registered with a civil authority by age.

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