The Nigeria office of the United Nations children’s fund (UNICEF) says it is working with local authorities in Bauchi State to issue birth certificates to 1,080,984 children of five years or younger this year.
According to reports in the local media, the target is prompted by a survey which showed that 61.7 percent of all children in the north-eastern state were not registered at birth in 2021.
At a recent planning meeting to discuss ways of scaling up birth registration in the state, an official of the UNICEF field office in Bauchi Dr. Tushar Rane underlined the importance of birth registration for every child.
“Birth registration is the first step towards establishing legal identity. Without a birth certificate, a child may face difficulties in accessing basic services such as education and healthcare, as well as in exercising their rights as a citizen,” said Rane as quoted by the Daily Independent.
“Birth registration is an essential tool for protecting children’s rights and ensuring their access to basic services, as well as for promoting development and citizenship in Bauchi State and beyond.”
Matthew Temidayo, national director in charge of Civil Registration and Vital Statistics at the National Population Commission (NPC), further emphasized the usefulness of the exercise, saying birth registration minimizes chances of children being exposed to situations of exploitation, child labour and trafficking.
He said that the registration drive will be carried out in all the 20 local government areas of the state.
The National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), the Bauchi state government and the association of local governments of Nigeria are also expected to play key roles in the birth registration process.
After Bauchi, the NPC says the exercise will be extended to other states of the federation.
Findings from a survey conducted last year by Nigeria’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed there was progress in birth registration as 60 percent of all children born in the country were said to be registered at birth.
UNICEF has been supporting birth registration efforts around the world including recently in Pakistan. The UN agency has also been pushing for the closure of civil registration gaps especially in Africa as part of the global race to meet the Sustainable Development Goal 16.9 target.