Niger: a national campaign to provide one million children with birth certificates
Niamey, Niger, 15 May 2009 – In the courtyard of Gabougoura’s primary school, students are extremely busy: as a national communication campaign to encourage birth registration kicks off, they are organising educational activities to promote birth registrations at the school level.
From 15 May, more than 8,000 rural schools will host free birth registration sessions for students that do not have a birth certificate, an ambitious initiative of the Government of Niger, in collaboration with UNICEF. More than 50 birth registration teams, composed of judges, assessors, clerks, and legal affairs agents will be deployed in the country. With this mass campaign, the Government is planning to register over one million children.
In Niger, two out of three children have no birth certificate, which represents 5,1 million children. This figure conceals important regionale disparities. The region of Zinder, in the South of the country, represents nearly 20 per cent of the country’s total population and registers only 18 per cent of births when the national rate is 32 per cent.
The educational campaign, which will span from May to August 2009, aims to sensitise the Nigerien authorities, public services as well as the population in general on the importance to register children at birth in a timely manner and on the fact that birth registration is free service.
During the launch of the campaign, Gabougoura primary school students offered ahnds-on demonstrations and sketches to promote birth registration. The campaign is also composed of sensitisation elements. From 15 May, a series of five TV spots tackling birth registration will be broadcasted on the national television, Télé Sahel, in French, haussa and zerma languages; five radio spots, will be broadcasted on national radio stations in nine languages ; talk shows will also be broadcasted on the national television and radio stations.
Birth registration provides the child with proof that he or she is a member of a family, and of a nation. Birth registration provides a nationality as well as the right to be protected by the State when the parents’ protection is missing. To register a child at birth enables him or her to access essential services needed for a healthy and fulfilling childhood, such as education, immunisation and healthcare. A child whose birth has been registered will be able to received a ID card, open a bank account, contract loans, vote or apply for jobs.
"Birth registration offers permanent and official proof of the existence of a child. It is an essential condition to the realisation of his or her rights and practical needs. The commitment of the Government in this campaign is essential if we want to create a protective environment to the children of Niger", declared Akhil Iyer, UNICEF Niger Representative. "This is why we congratulate Nigerien authorities for the attention and resources they dedicate to birth registration."
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