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Evaluation database

Evaluation report

2018 Nigeria: Impact Evaluation of the UNICEF Supported Birth Registration Programme in Nigeria 2012-2016

Author: AAN Associates

Executive summary

With the aim to continuously improve transparency and use of evaluation, UNICEF Evaluation Office manages the "Global Evaluation Reports Oversight System (GEROS)". Within this system, an external independent company reviews and rates all evaluation reports. The quality rating scale for evaluation reports is as follows: “Highly Satisfactory”, “Satisfactory”, “Fair” or “Unsatisfactory”. You will find the link to the quality rating below, labelled as ‘Part 2’ of the report, and the executive feedback summary labelled as ‘Part 3’.


The ‘Birth Registration Programme (BRP)’ is  led (implemented) by National Population Commission (NPopC) and supported by UNICEF Nigeria Country Office (UNICEF NCO). The Programme aimed at accelerating the birth registration rates (particularly for under 5 children)as a mean to contribute to child well-being and child protection in Nigeria. It was implemented from 2012-2016.

Lower birth registration rates remain a global challenge with approximately 65% of children below the age of 5 being registered across the world. This means one in every three children misses the registration. Nigeria is no exception and is faced with low birth registration rates (less than half). The regulations, administrative arrangements and services have been evolving since past five decades. The country has made significant strides in the last decade or so in addressing the issue of birth registration. This includes the formation of NPopC in 1988 as the primary service provider. Theservices are, however, marred by overlapping mandates between NPopC and Local Governments. It was in this context that the UNICEF NCO supported the BRP (2012-2016).

The object of this Impact Evaluation is the UNICEF-supported ‘Birth Registration Programme’, led by NPopC and was implemented at National level. It was aimed to accelerate birth registration and strengthen the ‘Civil Registration & Vital Statistics’ (CRVS) System in Nigeria to secure various benefits for children, including improved access to immunization, school enrolment and child protection services.

The Programme comprises four components of which three relate to the service delivery improvement (supply side) and the remaining one relates to demand creation. The key Programme stakeholders include NPopC, UNICEF, European Commission (EC as donor), Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education and others. A total of USD 7.8 million was spent on different interventions within the reporting period (2012-2016).


The evaluation was commissioned for the purposes of ‘Accountability’ and ‘Learning’. The objectives included: an evaluability assessment; assessing and establishing evidence/s of success; determining programme effectiveness; identifying weaknesses and strengths vis-à-vis strategies and interventions; establishing relevance to accessing other services; distilling and documenting good practices and lessons learnt; and to offer recommendations for the future Programme and partnership between UNICEF NCO and NPopC. The intended beneficiaries of the evaluation include UNICEF    NCO, NPopC, Federal and State ministries of Health and Education, Ministry of Budgeting and Planning, NIMC, local communities, donors, civil society organizations, and other UN agencies.


Within the ambit of ‘Theory-based’ and ‘Participatory’ evaluations, this evaluation applied a ‘Hybrid Evaluation Design’. The design includes ‘Process Tracing’ for outcome-1 ‘A harmonised, accessible and efficient Birth Registration System (BRS) functioning as integral part of Civil Registration System (CRS/CRVS) in Nigeria’; and ‘Quasi-experimental’ designs for outcome-2 ‘Increased awareness and demand for birth registration services in parents/caregivers’1 and 2, respectively.

The impact evaluation employed mixed-methods approach comprising both qualitative and quantitative methods and tools. The data collection was undertaken in both the ‘Treatment’ and ‘Control’ groups to create counterfactuals. The ‘Treatment’ group comprising four States where media interventions were carried out; whereas Control States include six States, were without media activities. Both primary and secondary data have been used to inform the evaluation. As part of primary data collection, key qualitative data collection methods included key informant interviews (61 KIIs undertaken); focus group discussions (40 FGDs), including unstructured field observations, evidence collection through photographs and reflection workshop, and various informal discussions with stakeholders. The quantitative data collection entailed administering (representative for the communities surveyed, 2700 households from 80 Local Government Areas (LGAs) of 10 sampled States (both Treatment and Control’). Where data was not available and could not be produced, credible data sources such as Multi-Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) were leveraged.  Where required and possible, the data from multiple sources was corroborated and triangulated for validation and to establish supportive evidence for the Evaluator’s argument.  The evaluation was supervised by the Evaluation Steering Committee (ESC) and UNICEF Evaluation Manager closely with Chief of Child Protection.

Findings and conclusions:

The conclusion summarises the key findings and analysis. Where it highlights the Programme relevance and appropriateness, it underlines the continued relevance of birth registration in the Nigerian context. It states that the Programme has proved to be ‘largely effective’ in strengthening systems and addressing the issues of service coverage, quality, and efficiency. It includes list of gaps and challenges that weakened Programme’s effectiveness such as departure from ‘system-strengthening’ approach to outputs delivery; inability to put together a complete, functioning and usable CRVS system; and others. It asserts that the Programme has indeed contributed to accelerating the birth registration numbers, however, the Programme fell short of achieving both immediate impact related targets by about 14% points (the achievement staggered at 5.5% Points increase against the targeted increase of birth registration by 20% Points for U5, and around second indicator of immediate impact, gap between richest and poorest income quintile stand at 64.9% (in 2016) against the Programme target of 30% reduction in inequities). The interaction with stakeholders suggests limited appreciation of birth registration contributing to reduction in child protection. The evaluators did not find any credible secondary evidence to support the birth registration correlation with early child marriages, female genital mutilation and child trafficking. The evaluation concludes that IT and interoperability-related interventions have sustained It states that the ‘Convergent Programming’ approach has been instrumental in accelerating the Programme’s achievements. It concludes on compliance of design to HRBA, equity and GEWE/UNSWAP. Moreover, it asserts that the nature and scale of the problem warrants continued commitment of the government and support from the development partners to realise the vision of ‘universal birth registration’ in Nigeria.


The report puts forth a series of recommendations with prescriptive actions. The recommendations have been grouped into two categories considering the specific needs, roles and capacities of the two key stakeholders i.e. NPopC & UNICEF NCO.

  1. The recommendations and suggested actions for UNICEF NCO include defining priorities for the future with continued focus on ‘system strengthening’ approach rather output-driven delivery. In doing so prioritize following actions.
  2. The recommendations for NPopC centre around the Commission demonstrating greater ownership and proactiveness for implementation of the approved ‘CRVS Strategic Plan’ (2018-22). The evaluation prescribes reaching out to public and development partners to seek support. The recommended actions include; a) translating CRVS Strategic Plan into a manageable operational plan; b) achieving operational harmony between NPopC and ALGON/LGAs; c) prioritisation of digitization and making CRVS widely accessible; d) revamping the current monitoring to include research; and developing and implementing ‘monitoring plans’ and ‘public education strategy/plan’ amongst others. Lastly, to reach out to the poorest, the Evaluation advises tagging birth registration with existing/future social protection instruments.

Lessons Learned:

The lessons learnt have focused on areas where, in Evaluators perspective, avenues for improvement are available. These include:

  1. An imbalance between Programme priorities and donor driven approaches may affect in delivering the promised results; hence achieving a balance between ‘System Strengthening’ and (Donors driven) ‘Output Delivery’ approaches is necessary;
  2. The evolving nature of Programme hampers system strengthening efforts; therefore, programme targets, activities, approaches and budgets etc., need to be clearly defined at programme development and planning stages; iii) NPopC State Commissioners are pivotal to successful implementation of ‘Interoperability’, hence merits proactive engagement with provincial counterparts;
  3. A structured capacity assessment must precede the capacity development interventions and investments to inform capacity development planning and execution;
  4. A balanced resource allocation is necessary among various programmatic interventions such as around demand creation (investments through duty bearers) & supply side (to support rights holders & influencers) to make assistance more HRBA Compliant to ensure the Programme is more HRBA compliant; and
  5. The community influencers (traditional and religious leaders) are critical to gain successful & sustained behavioural change/s, hence must remain at the core of public education & awareness campaigns.


Please find the attached labelled as follows:

  • Evaluation Report - Report
  • GEROS Evaluation Review - Part 2
  • GEROS Feedback Summary - Part 3
  • Evaluation Management Response (EMR) - Part 4

Full report in PDF

PDF files require Acrobat Reader.



Report information

Year: 2018

Office/Country: Nigeria

Region: WCAR

Type: Evaluation

Theme: Birth Registration

Language: English

Sequence #: 2018/001 

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