Family Clusters Boost Birth RegistrationBy Christine Awor
According to the Uganda government and the United Nations, about 51 million births go unregistered every year in developing countries, which is equivalent to one in three children not being registered at birth. In Uganda, the rate of registration used to be alarmingly low, just 30 percent of births.
The lack of birth registration can have lifelong impacts and increases inequality, as Simeon, a father of eight, says, “I have always had difficulty finding a job and proving my identity simply because I don’t have a birth certificate.”
World Vision’s policy of promoting development by working with clusters of families in groups of 10 to 20, called “household engagement and accountability,” has driven a great improvement in the rate of childbirth registration in the areas of Uganda where it has been put into practice. The approach, introduced in 2015, gets these clusters of families to discuss the issues affecting them and to find workable solutions. Childbirth registration that had been low in the past has now increased to an estimated 69 percent, according to the United Nations. That means more than 66,000 children have been registered who would not otherwise have been.
Through the cluster meetings, Simeon was encouraged to have his children registered. He took his entire family to the market square the moment he heard that data collectors had come to the village to document unregistered children. “I didn’t want my children to suffer the way I had suffered without birth registration.” he said, with evident relief.
“The primary goal of household engagement is to help families promote their own children’s wellbeing, and to enable groups of families to hold one another accountable,” says Moses, Senior Programme Manager of the approach. “We link them to social and economic assistance. We started the project in Rakai District where, so far, more than 21,000 families out of approximately 27,000 have been mobilised to deal with childbirth registration.” Moses also says that over 5,000 community volunteers have been trained to promote different aspects of child wellbeing, including health, education, livelihoods and child protection at the household level.
Birth registration is crucial for the protection of vulnerable children from abuses like child marriages and child labour. It is also essential for the child to receive healthcare and education. Clustering households working together is one way in which World Vision works with the government to ensure all Ugandans can get their birth certificates. World Vision is also in contact with birth registration officials in more than 100 districts and 135 hospitals across the country to provide support by giving feedback and sharing information.