About 230 million children around the world have not had their births registered. When you can’t prove who you are or when you were born, it becomes much harder to access your rights to services such as education, healthcare and protection from exploitation. If governments don’t know you exist, it’s harder for them to plan for you and to provide you with the services you need.
It is argued that children’s lives and those of their families can be significantly improved by digitising civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) processes. By ensuring that key life events such as births, deaths and marriages are recorded, governments can help ensure that people are acknowledged, protected and planned for. Plan International is at the forefront of developing digital birth registration (DBR) systems to help everyone get in the picture.
Millions of children are not registered because the birth registration process and the systems that support it are often complex, inefficient and do not answer the needs of the people they serve. Parents must often travel long distances in difficult conditions to register their children’s births, and long paper-trails, jumbled archives and confusing record-keeping lead to systems falling short of expectations, particularly for communities in remote, rural areas.
How technology can help
As part of our Count Every Child initiative, we work with governments, UN agencies and the private sector to improve birth registration services through the use of appropriate technology. We are helping to design a technology solution that simplifies the birth registration process and provides local birth registration services using mobile phones within a community. In every country, we seek to respond to the specific context in which we work.
DBR systems not only provide children with a legal identity (by issuing a certificate), but also provides governments with a continuous source of information through the collection of data. This allows them to plan effectively for all services that a child needs, including vaccination programmes and education.
Recognising that technology alone cannot bring about long and lasting improvement in birth registration, the DBR programme responds directly to the demand for and supply of birth registration services by:
- Working with communities to positively change their behaviours relating to birth registration
- Providing training to everyone involved in birth registration
- Ensuring that laws and policies are fair, non-discriminatory and support the use of technology