Background and Methodology
In 2004, The Mozambican Ministry of Justice, with support from UNICEF and Civil Society Organisations developed the National Action Plan for Birth Registration. The principle objective was to put into operation the regulations laid out in the Code of Civil Registries to a decentralised provincial and district level in order to cover the entire country. In 2005 an estimated 92% of children under the age of 5 did not have a birth registration document and this. backlog of un-registered children represented a challenge to the operationalisation of the National Plan. Since 2006, and in order to address this challenge, UNICEF has been supporting the “Accelerating Birth Registration” programme whose main objectives are two-fold: a) the reduction of the backlog of unregistered children; b) the establishment of a routine community-based birth registration system to ensure that a similar backlog of unregistered children does not build up again.
The programme, which employs a combination of mobile brigades and fixed registration agents is rolled out on a yearly basis and is expected to cover the entire country by the year 2011 - leading to the registration of 9.8 million children. In 2008 UNICEF conducted an evaluation in order to inform the programme’s scaling up at the national level. The evaluation assessed the level of access to and knowledge of the birth registration system among general population, the success rate of the campaigns, and the effectiveness of the community based model adopted by the programme.
Two districts (Xai-Xai in the South of the country and Maganja da Costa in the North) were purposively selected to conduct the evaluation. Primary data were collected as part of the evaluation, employing a mix of quantitative and qualitative collection methods. A structured questionnaire was administered to a total of 672 households providing district level, statistically representative data; qualitative data were collected through focus group discussions and key informant interviews.
The survey found that the percentage of 0-17 year old children in Xai-Xai district whose birth had been registered rose from 25.9% in 2006 (i.e. before the Accelerating Birth Registration programme started), to 70.0% in 2008. In the district of Maganja da Costa the increase was higher, from 3.0% to 60.0%. The impact of the programme was found to be particularly high in rural areas were mobile brigades were employed to reach remote communities. With 21% of registered children being orphans (paternal, maternal or both parents), the registration rate among orphans was slightly higher than that among non-orphans, testifying to the effectiveness of the programme’s focus on orphans and vulnerable children. The analysis by wealth quintile showed that access to the registration service did not differ significantly among the quintiles. The data also showed that 60% of cases of non registration of children were due to the caretakers’ limited knowledge or understanding on the importance and functioning of the civil registration system, demonstrating the importance of the social mobilisation interventions.
The evaluation recommended that future social mobilisation be increasingly tailored to the different areas of the country, through a more active engagement of the provincial Institutes for Social Communication and of the community leaders. The evaluation also provided a number of recommendations of strategic importance related to the training, role and supervision of the registration agents, the planning and coordination mechanisms and the operationalisation of the routine information system of birth registration.
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