Without a birth certificate, children miss out on their right to an identity and often fail to access basic services, sit for school exams, receive free healthcare or claim rights to legal protection. In emergencies and in displacement contexts, access to birth certificates can be disrupted and their are often additional barriers to registration.
When should we use a birth registration programme?
- In situations of displacement or protracted emergencies
- Where there is a lack of government capacity to reach all children with birth registration, or where families are not aware of how to access official procedures
How to develop a birth registration programme:
- Raise community awareness – find out the appropriate procedure which parents should follow in order to register births, and ensure that families are aware of this procedure and understand its importance
- Advocate with government and local authorities to ensure that registration is accessible to people affected by the emergency and remove barriers
- Involve children and communities in designing programmes – identifying barriers and ways of overcoming them
A programme could involve:
- Building on existing birth registration systems by:
- Establishing mobile registration units for remote rural areas or nomadic populations and more decentralised, locally accessible services during localised emergencies – for example, promoting temporary mobile registration teams or establishing a regular schedule of visits of civil registrars to refugee camps
- Encouraging the completion of birth notification forms – training midwives, community health workers and traditional birth attendants to maintain birth notification registers, to issue notifications to mothers when attending a birth, and submit copies of forms to refugee camp managers, health facilities and district registrars in order to facilitate the birth registration process. ‘Notifiers’ such as midwives and birth attendants play a critical role in explaining the benefits of registration to families and extending the coverage of birth registration in remote or conflict-affected areas.
- Using mobile phone technology – mobile phone systems can be used to record and transmit birth notification data during an emergency
- Integrating birth registration with primary healthcare services
Monitoring and evaluation
Sample indicators: Outcomes/impact
- Proportion of children with birth certificates
- Proportion of families who are aware of and able to access procedure for birth registration
Additional tools and guidelines
The material on this page draws from this key document by Plan International: Plan International, Birth registration in emergencies: a review of best practices in humanitarian action which also includes several case studies of birth registration programmes in emergency situations