|© UNICEF Burkina/2008/Marieke|
|The Government of Burkina Faso, in partnership with UNICEF and others, has launched a free birth-registration campaign nation-wide.|
By Jean-Jacques Nduita
OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso, 13 May 2009 – In Burkina Faso, as in many developing countries, millions of children are still making their way through life impoverished, abandoned, malnourished and uneducated. Having gone unregistered since birth, they are in danger of being forgotten and denied access to essential social services.
And yet, Article 7 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child states that every child has the right to have his or her birth registered.
To address this critical child-rights issue, the Government of Burkina Faso – along with UNICEF and other partners – has launched a free birth-registration campaign targeting 5 million of its more than 14 million inhabitants, with a focus on children and young people up to 18 years of age.
|© UNICEF Burkina /2008/Tarpilga|
|The birth-registration campaign will target every Burkinabé child under the age of 18.|
Fundamental rights and benefits
Burkina Faso has made considerable progress on birth registration in recent years. About two-thirds of children are now registered at birth. But glaring disparities remain – especially among the most vulnerable. Some 3 million children, 60 per cent of whom are girls, were not listed in civil registries and do not have national identity cards, according to the country’s 2006 census.
Geographical inaccessibility is a major underlying cause of this situation, as most people in rural areas live at least 10 km away from the nearest registry office. Other contributing factors include the high cost of birth registration, understaffed public services, illiteracy and poor outreach.
Apart from being the first legal acknowledgement of a child's existence, birth registration is fundamental to the realization of a number of rights and benefits, including access to health care and immunization. Registration also:
Outreach to vulnerable children
Through its new registration campaign – which is set to continue for 12 month – the Government of Burkina Faso is working on a decentralized basis to ensure that vulnerable children in remote areas do not remain out of reach.
“Registry offices will be provided additional equipment and financial support to face the growing number of demands that might stem from the recently launched campaign,” said Prime Minister Tertius Zongo.
Emphasis will also be placed on raising public awareness about the critical importance of birth registration.
“UNICEF will definitely accompany the Government of Burkina Faso in its tremendous efforts to issue birth certificates to the most vulnerable children,” said UNICEF Representative Hervé Périès. “It is in line with our continuous efforts to help Burkina Faso develop well informed policies and plans.”
In 2008, a UNICEF-supported initiative supported the issuance of 132,000 birth certificates for Burkinabé children.