LUSAKA, 11 May 2017 – The European Union and UNICEF today announced a grant worth 1.2m EURO to support a substantial increase in birth registration in Zambia through strengthening of the birth registration system.
The grant, which will be managed by UNICEF, aims to contribute to an increase in registration of children at birth to at least 20 per cent over the next three years. According to the 2013-14 Demographic Health Survey (DHS) the birth registration rate for Zambia currently stands at 11 per cent.
This support to Zambia is part of a 6 million EURO three year multi-country initiative financed by the European Union that aims to increase registration of children at birth in four African countries, namely Zambia, Uganda, Burkina Faso and Cameroon.
In welcoming the partnership, Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Home Affairs in Zambia, Prof Elwyn Chomba, reiterated government’s commitment to universal birth registration. “The Government of the Republic of Zambia welcomes this initiative and I am glad to note that the interventions planned in this partnership are all in line with my Government’s 2015-19 Civil Registration and Vital Statistics CRVS Strategic National Action Plan which aims at, among others, ensuring that every birth that occurs in Zambia is registered. This partnership will therefore help solidify the on-going interventions on civil registration in general and birth registration in particular.”
The grant builds on current evidence that shows that rapid and impressive gains are made when birth registration is linked to the health sector. Newborns can be registered immediately at birth in the health facilities, while those born at home can be registered during their Under 5 visits to health facilities for various services such as immunization.
Commenting on the support, the European Union Ambassador to Zambia, his Excellency Alessandro Mariani said: “Birth registration is crucial for the protection of vulnerable children from abuse such as child marriage and child labour through the enactment and enforcement of age-related laws; it further ensures that children in conflict with the law are not treated as adults in the justice system. It is also essential for the attainment of the right to health care and the right to education.”
The support will strengthen capacities of national and sub-national authorities to improve service performance as well as facilitate household’s access to birth registration services in partnership with the Health Sector. Statistics from the DNRPC annual reports show that birth registration figures have more than doubled since the introduction of birth registration desks in health facilities in 2013. Currently there are 222 health facilities in the Country with birth registration desks. The target is to have birth registration desks operating in at least 1000 health facilities by 2020. As part of this EU/UNICEF supported programme, outreach services will also be used to reach vulnerable communities, where many women give birth outside health facilities.
In welcoming this programme, UNICEF Zambia Country Representative, Dr. Hamid El-Bashir Ibrahim said “This support from the European Union is timely. The EU-UNICEF-GRZ partnership will strengthen existing interventions including implementation of the new Statutory Instrument (SI) No.44 which now allows for the certification of births at provincial and district levels. More importantly, it will enhance the growing partnership between the Civil Registration and the Health Sectors in the delivery of birth registration services at community level through health facilities. It will also help accelerate the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by contributing vital statistics to the national socio-economic planning process,” he added.
In summary this partnership aims to achieve the following specific objectives:
- Support the review and harmonization of all the civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) related laws in order to promote birth registration.
- Support the creation and strengthening of CRVS sub-committees within the District Development Coordinating Committees (DDCC) to ensure a coordinated approach in the implementation of birth registration activities by the various stakeholders.
- Support development of a resource mobilization and advocacy package to ensure a sustainable national treasury funding for birth registration.
- Support the partnership between the Ministry of Home Affairs (MOHA) and the Ministry of Health (MOH) in providing birth registration services at community level through health facilities.
- Support awareness raising among communities to ensure that they have the knowledge on birth registration and the ability to demand and effectively utilize the service.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children in Zambia, visit www.unicef.org/zambia.