Skip to main content

10 years of counting every child

10 years ago, Plan International launched a campaign called Universal Birth Registration. It was set up to tackle an important issue – millions of children around the world weren't being counted because the systems in place to register births weren't up to the task.

In 2008, the campaign was transformed into its current form – Count Every Child. This is our initiative to make every girl and boy visible in the eyes of the law, providing them with a legal identity and helping them access their full rights.
Today, 230 million children worldwide have still not had their births registered while more than 100 developing countries don't have effective registration systems in place. But over the past 10 years, Plan International has made a huge difference, helping register more than 40 million children.

We won't stop until every child is counted

Here, Plan International staff reflect on 10 years of work getting everyone into the picture.

Nicoleta Panta, Count Every Child Global Advocacy Manager:

Over the past 10 years, we have positioned ourselves as the leading INGO on birth registration. Our high-quality advocacy interventions have contributed to increased political will and investment in CRVS. The culmination of this work was the recent launch of the Global CRVS Scaling Up Investment Plan, and we were the only INGO proactively involved. Developed by the World Bank and WHO, the Plan covers activities over the next 10 years to continue to influence policies, strategies and action plans at all levels.

Seco Balde – Child Protection Specialist, Guinea Bissau:

In the last 10 years, Plan International Guinea Bissau and partners influenced the government to make birth registration free of charge for all children up to 7 years old. Parents said that the distance from the community to birth registration centres was a barrier to registering their children. So we've also supported the implementation of community-based birth registration systems.

Angelina Alal Habib – Child Rights and Gender Advisor, South Sudan

Even through our country is less than 10 years old, we have been working in South Sudan since 2006. In South Sudan, where there are no official birth certificates yet (we are working on this!), we've sorted out birth notifications for more than 1,000 children. In the future we hope to build on this to make birth registration more widespread

Jannatul Ferdous Ruma – Child Protection Advisor, Bangladesh

We've actually been working on birth registration in Bangladesh since 2001! We supported the government to draft the Birth and Death Registration Act 2004; we've piloted digital birth registration processes; and we've instigated online birth registration. We've also conducted awareness-raising campaigns via TV, print media and public events. Overall we've registered 8.5 million children, but we won't stop until every child is counted.

Carla Abu Zahr – CRVS Project Evaluation for Plan International and UNICEF, Laos

Plan International has supported the Ministry of Home Affairs to develop a CRVS Strategy for the country. We are seeking financial support from donors and development partners to help modernise and scale up CRVS systems, and increase access to registration facilities beyond the cities into more remote and deprived areas.

Dorie Barbot – Youth Engagement Program Manager, Haiti

Although I only joined Plan International in 2012, I am proud of the work accomplished so far. The momentum we have created in communities is our greatest success. We have brought together civil registration officers, youth and other leaders to make birth registration a reality. We have educated local authorities on their legal responsibilities with regards to birth registration, and now they are working with registration officers to record key information in remote communities.

Sumit Wophapho – Project Manager Legal Status and Citizenship, Thailand

As a result of our advocacy work, together with other organisations here in Thailand, the Civil Registration Act No. 2 2008 now allows all children access to birth registration. In the future, we hope there will be one-stop services for birth registration in all hospitals.

Edward Duffus, Global Digital Birth Registration Manager

For the last 10 years, we've been at the forefront of registering births around the world. Now, as we look towards the future, we remain a leader as we make the most of digital technology to strengthen registration systems. We will continue working with governments, development partners and donors to improve these systems and ensure they meet everyone's needs, no matter who they are or where they are from.

Alaka Koffi Wonegbloe Adjoa – Child Protection Coordinator, Togo

Thanks to collaboration between Plan International and other organisations, more than 100,000 children have received birth certificates, while more and more children are systematically registered after birth. But despite these encouraging results, reports show there are many, many more unregistered children. We are busy mobilising resources so that we can implement a strategy to improve registration rates.