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Madagascar, 30 March 2016: Ranjanirina, in pursuit of his identity

© UNICEF/2016/Fanjaniaina
Ranjanirina thinks success needs identity papers

Ranjanirina will turn 24 years old in April. He only managed to obtain his birth certificate at 17.

“When I was born, my parents only worried about feeding and clothing me. They were not aware that by not registering my birth I would be deprived of many rights,” he says.

As a consequence of having no legal identification, Ranjanirina has never been vaccinated, nor has he been able to access health services. He was able to attend primary school, but could not take the leaving exam (CEPE) because he had no birth certificate. He enjoys playing rugby, and used to play regularly, although he was refused many opportunities to travel because he had no official papers.

At the age of 15, he became a father but he could not register his baby as he lacked an official identity document.

“I felt so unhappy that my daughter could not even bear my name,” he laments. “I went to the fokontany (community) office to get information on how I might finally remedy this dilemma of not having official identity papers for me as well as for my daughter.”

At 17, he collected all the administrative papers needed to issue a birth certificate with the assistance of the fokontany and his rugby club members.

“I felt human the first time I saw my birth certificate. Before that, I used to consider myself like a caveman.”

He registered his daughter at the same year and adopted her.

“I wanted to avoid that my daughter endure the same feelings and hardships as me and my brothers and sisters did for not having any official papers,” he says. “At least I could attend school – which was not the case for my brother and my sisters. It is my friends and me who taught them how to write and read.”

With great determination to find his place in this world, Ranjanirina says he will now take the CEPE exam this year.

“Can you imagine that I do not even have the smallest diploma in my life? I will get it and I will succeed.”

Although great strides have been made in registering births in Madagascar – an estimated 83 per cent of births are currently registered – much work remains, as many Malagasy people are deprived of their right to official identity papers. The Government of Madagascar launched in early March 2016 a national evaluation of its birth registration system, with support from UNICEF, the African Development Bank and the UN Economic Commission for Africa, in an effort to try to attain 100 per cent birth registration.



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