Thursday, May 30, 2013

Universal Birth Registration Could Be Lasting Legacy Of AU’s 50th Anniversary

The 50th ‘birthday’ of the African Union is a chance to make a lasting commitment to the continent’s children by giving every child a name and legal status, UNICEF said today. “Ghana’s most important resource is its children,” said acting UNICEF Ghana representative Sarah Hague.

“Ghana’s future will be built by its children, and their rights need to be protected. The first step is making sure that every child, everywhere, is counted and is given a legal identity.”

Only 62 per cent of children under-5 in Ghana - have their birth registered, meaning that nearly 40 per cent of Ghanaian children are not counted as citizens, according to the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 2011. In Ghana, rural children are much less likely to be registered. This puts them at risk of being cut off from social services and legal protection crucial to their survival and futures.

Without legal identities, children can be denied access to basic services such as schooling. Without details of their age, they cannot be easily protected against child labour, human trafficking, early marriage, commercial sex exploitation and other forms of exploitation.

UNICEF Ghana is working with the Government of Ghana to register 90% of children under-5 by 2016. New research into birth registration in Ghana has found that inadequate resources (both staff and registration materials), inaccessibility and the cost of registration prevent children from their legal identities. The Government and UNICEF are working together to increase resources and find innovative ways to reach more children.

Last year, UNICEF supported the registration of more than 4,000 children’s births in hard to reach areas of the Upper East and Eastern regions.

As part of the celebrations of the African Union Golden Jubilee, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Martin Mogwanja will take part in a high-level debate hosted by the AU on The Scandal of Invisibility, Making Every African Count in Addis Ababa.

“We welcome the anniversary’s focus on Africa’s collective future,” said UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Martin Mogwanja. “By starting with strong civil registration systems, not only will the continent be closer to meeting its commitments to children but these investments will help inform planning needs for the next generation as well as meeting broader development goals.”

The child population of Africa is expected to rise by 130 million by 2025, demographic studies show. By mid-century almost 1 in every 3 children globally will live in Africa. By 2030, sub-Saharan Africa will have the greatest number of children under the age of 18 anywhere in the world.


UNICEF works in more than 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

In June 2012, the Governments of Ethiopia, India and the United States with UNICEF launched a global roadmap to end preventable deaths of children under the age of five. Since then, under the banner of Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed, more than 170 countries have signed up and renewed their commitment to child survival.

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