Birth Registration for Every Child by 2030: Are we on track?
This United Nations Children’s Fund report on birth registration for children was published in December 2019. A birth certificate, it states, is the basis on which an individual can establish their legal identity and nationality, avoid the risk of statelessness, and seek protection from violence and exploitation.
The report analyses countries’ progress
on securing birth registration for children as per the
16th goal of the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: ‘Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for
sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective,
accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels’.
This publication presents the latest available country data and global
and regional estimates of the number of unregistered children. It also assesses
progress over time and presents evidence for the amount of effort that will be
needed – at both global and regional levels – to achieve universal birth
registration by 2030.
The primary factors that prevent families worldwide from registering
their children include long distances to the nearest registration facility,
lack of knowledge about how to register a child, high fees required for
registering a birth or obtaining a birth certificate and restrictions based on
gender and ethnicity.
The 44-page report comprises of six parts – Birth registration and
sustainable development (part 1); Progress and challenges in data availability
and quality (part 2); Where we stand today (part 3); Barriers and disparities (part
4); Assessing progress and looking to 2030 (part 5) and Realizing every child’s
right to be registered at birth (part 6).
Globally, the births of 166 million children – including 51 million in Eastern and Southern Africa, 51 million in South Asia and 43 million in West and Central Africa – have not been recorded.
Out of these 166 million ‘unregistered’ children, 30 per cent reside in South Asia with 14 per cent in India, nine per cent in Pakistan and seven per cent in other parts of the region.
Globally, 237 million children under the age of five – a little more than one of three of the world’s children – do not have a birth certificate.
The largest share of children under the age of five without birth certificates reside in South Asia (32 per cent or approximately 77 million), followed by Eastern and Southern Africa (28 per cent or 66 million), West and Central Africa (21 per cent or 50 million), East Asia and the Pacific (14 per cent or 33 million), Middle East and North Africa (14 per cent or seven million), Latin America and the Carribbean (two per cent or four million) and Eastern Europe and Central Asia (0.2 per cent or 400,000). None reside in Western Europe and North America.
Around 30 per cent or 40 million infants (children under the age of one) worldwide have not been registered at birth. Of these, 12 million reside in Eastern and Southern Africa, 11 million in South Asia, 10 million in West and Central Africa, five million in East Asia and the Pacific, one million in Latin America and the Caribbean, one million in Middle East and North Africa and 100,000 in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
About 56 million infants worldwide (approximately 4 out of 10 infants) do not possess a birth certificate – 18 million in South Asia, 15 million in Eastern and Southern Africa, 12 million in West and Central Africa, seven million in East Asia and the Pacific, two million in Latin America and the Caribbean, two million in Middle East and North Africa and 200,000 in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
In South Asia – largely because of State efforts in Bangladesh, India and Nepal – birth registration levels have increased to from 23 per cent nearly two decades ago to 70 per cent according to the latest reported data. However, significant improvements will have to be made for the region to reach the goal of birth registration for every child by 2030, especially in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Focus and Factoids by Snigdha Singh Maan.
United Nations Children’s Fund
United Nations Children’s Fund