Birth Registration

Key Result for Children

Baby happy with her birth certificate

What’s at stake?

Birth registration is the official recording of the birth of a child by the State – a fundamental human right and an essential means of protecting a child's right to a name and identity. Birth registration is part of a civil registration and vital statistics system, which tracks major milestones in a person’s life, from birth to marriage and death. It serves a statistical purpose and provides a proof of age against certain forms of abuse and exploitation, such as child marriage, trafficking of children and/or children in conflict with the law.

West and Central Africa has the lowest birth registration rates in the world, with only 45 per cent of children under five years of age who are registered – an estimated 47 million children. The registration rate for children under one year of age is even lower, standing at 43 per cent – or 10 million children.

Five out of the ten countries with the lowest birth registration rates globally are in West and Central Africa. The status of birth registration across the region varies widely, ranging from near complete rates – over 85 per cent – in Cape Verde, Congo, Mali and Gabon to less than 25 per cent in Chad, DR Congo, Guinea-Bissau and Liberia.

Our goal


Change strategies

In West and Central Africa, UNICEF will carry out these integrated strategies to accelerate progress toward change.

  • Strengthening and systematizing linkages between civil registration and the delivery platforms of other social services, including evidence generation, policy advocacy, inter-sectoral and inter-agency partnerships, and innovations.
  • Promoting civil registration through national health systems and services – either through routine maternal and child health services or immunization campaigns – so that all children coming into contact with the health system are notified/declared with the civil registry.
  • Working with the education sector to identify and register children without birth certificates at the time of school enrolment. For out-of-school and other vulnerable children, child welfare and social protection services – primarily cash transfer programmes – provide an additional opportunity to identify and facilitate registration of children not reached by the health and education services.
  • Educating and mobilizing families and communities to increase demand for and use of services.
Illustration: Child Protection