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Birth registration

Mother and child holding birth certificateAround the world almost 230 million girls and boys under the age of 5 are effectively invisible because their births haven’t been registered.

Sub-Saharan Africa is home to 85 million of these children, while 135 million live in Asia and the Pacific.

In 2012, 57 million infants – 4 out of 10 babies delivered worldwide – were not registered with civil authorities*.

Birth registration is a fundamental right that allows a child to more easily:

  • access social services, such as education and health care
  • prove who and how old they are, helping to protect against child labour and child marriage
  • have a national identity, making it easier to fight abuse and child trafficking.

Birth registration rates

  • Latin America and Caribbean - 92%*
  • Middle East and North Africa - 87%*
  • Sub-Saharan Africa - 44%*
  • South Asia - 39%*

Despite the massive potential benefits, more than 100 developing countries still don't have functioning civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) systems to record major life events like deaths, marriages and births.

Millions registered

Through its Count Every Child programme work, Plan has birth registration activities in 36 developing countries around the world.

Since 2005, we have helped register 40 million children and influenced laws in 10 countries so that 153 million more can enjoy the rights to a birth certificate.

Plan is calling for greater investment in effective, comprehensive and rights-based CRVS systems and wants national governments to make registration free and accessible for all so children can be registered as soon after birth as possible.

Realising this vision requires a significant push at the global level right down to the community level to ensure resources are available, the right laws are in place and being upheld, and relevant stakeholders are on the same page.

Find out more about Plan’s birth registration activities

* Source: UNICEF

Case studies

Boosting birth registration in Kenya

Boosting birth registration in Kenya

A Plan and Nokia-supported project in Kwale district, Kenya, is using mobile devices to boost birth registration - a key to accessing essential services such as health and schooling.