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Angola, 11 December 2013: Eight citizens in a day - A story on birth registration in Angola

© UNICEF/Angola 2013/Vinícius Carvalho

By Vinícius Carvalho

Luanda, Angola, 11 December 2013 - In August 2013, Vitória Vitor Artur Manuel went to Cazenga’s Registry Office, in Angola, with eight of her nine children - including the newborn triplets. On the same day she was able to register her children and ensure that they can be enrolled in school. "When I got home I started crying. It was one of the happiest days of my life". Besides guaranteeing citizenship, she says, the documents will also facilitate medical care for her children.

To get the birth certificates, Vitoria had to register herself first. This is the case of thousands of Angolan parents who cannot register their children for not having their own Identity Cards. During several years much of the population remained isolated or in constant mobility due to war. In some cases, they lost their identity papers, making it even more difficult to later recover them given the destruction of registration services in those areas affected by the conflict.

"My certificate was 17.000 kwanzas (around $170). I wanted to do it but I couldn’t". The problem was resolved this year with the Presidential Decree 80/13, which ensured the gratuity for the first registration to all Angolan citizens until 2016. Before this decree, birth registration was free only for children up to five years old.

Vitoria had the support of the Pastoral da Criança, a faith-based organization, to make her ID. She is one of 42 Women Leaders formed by the institution to raise awareness about the importance of birth registration and basic health care to children in Cazenga. This municipality has around 425 thousand inhabitants.

In order to sensitize her neighbors, Vitoria tells them how she got a job because of her ID. "I did it to help my children, but it helped me too". Hired by a company that requires the ID, Vitoria delivers up to 5 bags of recyclable material per day for 50 kwanzas each. The income helps to improve the feeding of her children and her production of kissangua, a home brew made of corn that she sells on the streets of Cazenga. With the ID, she also opened her first bank account. "I’ve started to make bank deposits thanks to the money that I’ve earned because of my ID. This was good for me and for my children".

The way further - Cases like Vitoria’s shall be multiplied with the implementation of the Birth Registration and Justice for Children Programme in Angola. The Angolan government, with the support of the European Union (EU) and UNICEF, envisages investments in three areas considered essential for Child Protection in the country: the expansion of basic care services and infrastructures; the improvement of legal and institutional framework for Child Protection, and the awareness about the importance of justice and birth registration for ensuring the rights of children. 

One key Programme goal will be to expand birth registration coverage from the current 56% to 80% of all Angolan children by the end of 2017. Seven provinces with the lowest registration fees will be prioritized: Uige, Luanda, Moxico, Huila, Bié, Kwanza Sul and Malange. The programme also aims at facilitating birth registration procedures in hospitals, as well as to set mobile registration units in the most affected communities. In such areas, the programme will include support to 104 registration facilities, 60 health centers and hospitals and 60 educational centers.

“Birth registration is more than a right; it is the passport to child protection, development and participation, key pillars of the Convention on the Rights of the Child”, said Edina Kozma, UNICEF Angola Chief Child Protection.

 

 
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