In a new report, UNICEF says the births of 166 million children worldwide have never been recorded. Although the number of birth registrations has increased in recent years, in Nigeria, for instance, up to 17 million children remain "invisible". UNICEF warned that without proof of identity, children are often excluded from accessing education, health care and other "vital services."
According to UNICEF, the United Nations Children's Fund, the births of 166 million children under age 5 (about 1 in 4) globally have never been recorded. 87% of those children live in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, UNICEF said in a new report on global birth registration released this week.
Progress has been achieved primarily in the last 10 years and has reached the poorest children in most regions. In Nigeria, for instance, the number of officially registered births has increased significantly in recent years: from 30% in 2013 to 43% in 2018.
The reason for the increase in Nigeria, according to UNICEF, is integrating birth registration into health services. At the same time, about 17 million children under age five (one in five) remain unregistered, UNICEF said.
"We have come a long way in Nigeria, and ensuring that children are registered through the health services is making a big difference, but still too many children are slipping through the cracks," said Peter Hawkins, UNICEF representative in Nigeria, in a statement.
- Providing every child with a certificate upon birth;
- empowering all parents, including single parents, regardless of gender, to register their children at birth and for free during the first year of life;
- linking birth registration to basic services, particularly health, social protection and education;
- investing in safe and innovative technological solutions to allow every child to be registered, including in hard-to-reach areas; and
- engaging communities to demand birth registration for every child.