Birth and death registration still low in West Nile

todayAugust 26, 2021

By Pamela Atim

Government has decried the low response to birth and death registration among residents in West Nile despite the available enabling legislation.
Arua district registration officer Christine Ajok says a number of people do not attach value to the documents. She says there are deliberate efforts needed to compel people to embrace the documents.
‘’Our community response to birth and death registration is still low. We need capacity building to boost people’s interest to embrace these documents, including the duty bearers to have each and every birth within the facility registered. Though we also have a challenge with the death where a person processes the death certificate based on demand. We have scenarios where someone wants to process benefits of a deceased brother and therefore runs to have this death registered. However we are looking at a more sustainable birth and death registration. What gives us hope is that we registered 7,500 registrations in the 2020/2021 financial year. People need to be encouraged to go for registration’’, she said.
In 2012, government embarked on the issuance of birth certificates with funding from United Nations Children's Fund UNICEF.
In March 2016, the National Identification and Registration Authority-NIRA took over the mandate of issuing birth and death certificates to Ugandan citizens from Uganda Registration Services Bureau-URSB.  
But Morris Kwach, the Nebbi District Secretary for finance says most people miss lifetime opportunities because of failure to present birth certificates when they are needed.
"Traditionally our people have nothing to do with birth certificates. Things back fire for them when lifetime opportunities come and that's when they begin forging birth certificates and see the importance of the document", Kwach said in a recent interview.
Why is birth certificate important?
Birth certificate just like death are important documents that can be a requirement to access certain services.
According to the United Nations Children’s Fund UNICEF, birth registration is a vital step towards protection from abuse and exploitation. Besides providing an official record of a child’s existence and nationality and being a fundamental right, any enforcement of minimum-age legislation depends on the birth certificate.
For instance a birth certificate can be used to protect a child from illegal recruitment by armed forces, protection from child marriage or from hazardous forms of work.
Arua district registration officer Christine Ajok says on average it takes 24 hours for one to get  certification which was  not the case in the earlier years due to lack of  the registration officer.
Article 18 of the Constitution states that the state shall register every births, marriage and deaths occurring in Uganda. Birth registration requirements include the particulars of the child, the parent’s particulars including national identification card photocopies among others.

While birth registration is compulsory for all people in Uganda according to the Births and Deaths Registration Act of 1970, the reality is that recent estimates from Mobile Vital Records Systems VRS and administrative data indicate that about 2.8 million of the approximately 7 million children under the age of 5 years in Uganda are not registered.  
Without a legal identity that comes with birth registration, a child may not be able to prove their age, nationality and parentage, and as a result, they will not have institutional protection and are more vulnerable to exploitation, violence, neglect, early marriages, child labour, sexual trafficking and slavery. They may also not be able to claim basic services, such as access to education and health, as well as social protection. 

COVER PHOTO: Birth Certificate. Courtesy photo.

Share this article

Follow us on Twitter
Follow us on Facebook