By Kambani Phiri, Communications Specialist, Zambia
Children experience violence in various settings, from home and school to institutions and the judicial system. Birth registration and certification is one of the first means of protecting a child’s rights and is one of the most potent instruments in ensuring equity in a broad array of services and interventions.
According to the Zambia Demographic and Health Survey (2018), only 14.2% of children under the age of five have registered births, with 6.6% having birth certificates. This low rate of children with birth certificates leaves them vulnerable to abuse.
To enhance and promote access to birth certification of children regardless of their status, World Vision in Zambia has donated a Birth Certificate Printer to the Zambian Government in Eastern Province, valued at K5000 ZMW ($310 United States Dollars).
Speaking during the handover, the guest of honour, Eastern Provincial Permanent Secretary Mr. Paul Thole, represented by the Assistant secretary Mr. Clement Chilembo, said a birth certificate was vital to ensuring that children were fully protected.
“I wish to say to everyone that a child without a birth certificate lacks official identity before the Government and waits for such recognition until one gets the National Registration Card. Furthermore, the provision of birth certificates will also help in the fight against early marriages since it will help in offering tangible proof of real birth history to all relevant stakeholders in the country,” said Mr. Chilembo.
He added that the National Registration Act Cap. 51 of the Laws of Zambia made it mandatory for all births within the country’s jurisdiction to be registered.
“It is mandatory for all children to obtain birth certificates in Zambia; however, the Department of National Registration Passport and Citizenship being the government department mandated to carry out birth registration in Zambia, is constrained by inadequate financial resources and equipment to conduct birth registration and ultimately print the birth certificates regularly,” said Mr Chilembo.
And World Vision Zambia Child Protection Technical Programme Manager Margaret Phiri said the organisation would continue to invest in the well-being of children by strengthening child protection systems.
“As an organisation, we will continue to work with the Zambian Government through the relevant ministries and departments to provide children with safety and an enabling environment where rights and responsibilities are realised. This is not a favour to our Zambian children; it is their right,” said Ms. Phiri.
She further urged the community leaders and all stakeholders to promote awareness among ignorant community members.
“We will need to do more in creating awareness in the communities so that parents can understand and appreciate the importance of a birth certificate,” said the Child Protection Manager. “We now need to have each child registered and issued with a birth certificate for us to win the fight against child abuse and other forms of violation.”
World Vision in Zambia has been working with the Zambian Government through the Ministry of Home Affairs by supporting the construction of birth certificate issuance facilities in Eastern and Northern Provinces.
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