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Initiatives to register births for protection programmes gain momentum

Five year old Sonia lost her leg at two years of age and was unable to access social services due to not having her birth registered.
© UNICEF Mozambique/2012/Neidi de Carvalho
Five year old Sonia lost her leg at two years of age and was unable to access social services due to not having her birth registered.

Mutarara, MOZAMBIQUE - In districts across Mozambique, UNICEF partners with the Ministry of Justice in establishing the Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) system, a crucial element of a country’s good governance and respect for civil and human rights. A key component of the CRVS system is the national Birth Registration programme. The programme’s aim is to recognise the fundamental rights of every child to establish identity, citizenship and family ties. In many parts of Mozambique, there is a backlog of unregistered children who are unable to access basic Social Protection programmes, enroll in school, be legally protected as an adult or be protected from exploitation and abuse.

Sonia is one of these many unregistered children. She lives in Mutarara district in the province of Tete with her grandmother and two older siblings. Due to an unknown medical condition, Sonia’s right leg was amputated when she was two years of age. Her parents passed away when she was a child and she is now being raised by her grandmother.

Sonia is now five years old. Due to her disability and the five kilometer distance, Sonia has not been attending school. She does not have a wheelchair or crutches, and since her birth was never registered, cannot access social services for her disability. “Sonia is a really bright and cheerful girl who unfortunately felt left out from the other children because she could not attend school due to mobility issues,” said her grandmother Madalena.

Having learnt that Sonia, after having a birth registration document, could gain access to  Social Protection services (e.g. a wheelchair via the Direct Social Support Programme of the National Institute of Social Action) for her disability and would be able to attend school, her grandmother took her to the birth registration point in Doa,Mutarara. At this post, and at others across Mozambique, unregistered children are given birth certificates that allow them to be eligible for Social Welfare Programmes offered by INAS, the executing arm of the Ministry of Women and Social Action. Sonia as yet not received a wheelchair and is therefore still not attending school, however she has started receiving Social Grant (through the cash transfer of the PSSB), therefore decreasing the burden on her grandmother as notbeing the only subsidiary.

Since 2008, Mozambique has made large gains in birth registration, with a study in that year finding that the rate of registration for children under five years of age had risen to 31 percent. The programme is currently on track to register 10.5 million people by the end of 2012, having reached the 8 million mark at the end of 2011. The Government has also initiated electronic registration systems, a crucial component of national statistics production that UNICEF supports through the Ministry of Justice.

At the same time the Mozambican Government has made significant strides in the expansion of the Social Protection Programmes. Significant gains have been made in including potential indirect beneficiaries, in large part dependent children, into these programmes, with the doubling of the average number of indirect beneficiaries per household from 0.5 to just over 1 between 2006 and 2008. However, significant number of potential indirect beneficiaries remain unaccounted for in the benefit level. The Mozambican Government is conscious of this and is intent on strengthening the links between the birth registration services and the social assistance services to guarantee access to registration documents for all their beneficiaries.

For more information, please contact:

Patricia Nakell, UNICEF Mozambique
Tel: +258 82 312 1820; Email:

Gabriel Pereira, UNICEF Mozambique
Tel. (+258) 21 481 100; Email:



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