According to UNICEF, 43% of children born in Nigeria are not accounted for in official records since their births were not registered.
According to the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) 2021, 57.3 percent of births of children under the age of five were registered at the national level, UNICEF reported over the weekend.
During a media dialogue held in Kano by UNICEF and the National Population Commission, NPC, and the National Orientation Agency, NOA, UNICEF Chief of Kano Field Office, Mr. Rahama Farah, made the announcement.
According to Farah, even though millions of children are born in Nigeria every year, the country’s birth registration uptake is far from ideal, depriving Nigerian children of rights recognized by the United Nations and the Government of Nigeria and rendering them legally invisible and nonexistent.
As he sees it,
In comparison to the national average of 57.3%, only 54.6% of births to children under the age of five are registered in Kano State, according to the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) 2021. The UNICEF Kano Field Office also works with the states of Katsina and Jigawa, where registration rates for children under the age of five are much lower (23.6% in Jigawa and 67.6% in Katsina, respectively).
According to the MICS 2021 survey, “two out of every three mothers and caregivers of children aged below five years whose births were not registered did not know how to register births. Birth registration rates for children under the age of five range from 91% in the wealthiest quintile to 33% in the poorest, according to MICS 2021 estimates.
The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs’ Population Division’s World Population Prospects 2019 (Online Edition) estimates that 20,000 babies are born in Nigeria every day, and that the country will have 7,465,417 children under the age of one and 35,597,131 children under the age of five by 2023. Millions of kids need to be enrolled and verified every year for this to work. To achieve SDG 16.9, Nigeria must make aggressive efforts to remove the remaining obstacles that have prevented universal birth registration.
It is, therefore, of the utmost significance to address the problem of insufficient or lack of understanding of the importance of Birth Registration and of where caregivers and mothers can go to register the births of their children. If we want caregivers, parents, and the public at large to adopt Birth Registration, Farah says we need to get the word out about the modern, digital process.
The head of UNICEF has indicated that the organization has taken many steps to assist the state government in its effort to enhance birth registration.
UNICEF is working with the government of Nigeria to improve birth registration rates by digitizing paper-based processes and implementing them during Maternal and Newborn Child Health Weeks (MNCHWs) and Supplemental Immunization Activities to ensure that every child born in Nigeria is recorded.
“In 2023, UNICEF is investing in safe and innovative technologies to enable birth registration in Nigeria and supporting the work of multi-sectoral partners to expand birth registration coverage in the country.
Farah said this will help ensure reliable and long-lasting birth registration in Nigeria.
The National Population Commission (NPC)’s State Director, Alh. Ismaila Hassan Dogo, previously stated that the NPC aimed to register one million electronic births in Kano by the end of 2023.
The director outlined the commission’s struggles, such as a lack of manpower and a lack of knowledge among the residents, despite the commission’s frantic efforts to fulfill its target with 236 registration centers across the 44 local government districts of the state.
Mr. Samuel Kaalu, UNICEF’s Communication Specialist, said the purpose of the dialogue was to inform journalists about the importance of e-birth registration and encourage them to inform residents about the importance of registering their children with the National Population Commission (NPC), which is mandated by law to handle birth registrations.