MAPUTO, Mozambique – The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Embassy of Norway to Mozambique signed a financial agreement today for $1.7 million to fund a much needed programme of legal identity, including birth registration in Niassa Province.
This generous funding will be used to finance programming in five districts in Niassa and will reach over 200,000 people, aged from 0 to 60 years, well over half of whom will be children. It will enable recipients to have their births officially registered and for them to receive birth certificates. The grant will also be used to provide more than 150,000 people with identification cards, fund the opening of birth registration posts in five health centres and train 250 community leaders on the value of civil registration. The programme will also be the second time UNICEF has worked with partner, Green Resources, to deliver these types of services, paving the way for increased investment of private sector in realization of child rights.
“Birth registration, birth certification and official identification are crucial to a person’s life and future”, said Aud Marit Wiig, Ambassador of Norway to Mozambique. “Ultimately, it will ensure their access to education, to enrollment in social programmes and their ability to own land amongst many other things. Birth registration should be for every child as it gives them a legal identity, helping to protect their rights throughout their lives.”
Everyone has the right to be recognized as a person before the law. This is enshrined in Article 6 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and Article 16 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Mozambique has ratified, also recognizes the right of a child to registration immediately after birth, to be designated a name and to acquire citizenship. Furthermore, the programme will contribute directly to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, agreed by all Member States in September 2015, which established the specific SDG target 16.9 – “legal identity for all, including birth registration, by 2030.”
But despite international commitments, and while Mozambique has seen some progress in birth registration rates, with the percentage of registered children under the age of five increasing from 31 per cent in 2008 to 49 per cent in 2017, serious challenges persist. The 2017 census data shows that over 60 per cent of children under the age of one are not yet registered. Moreover, only 28 per cent of children under five have a birth certificate. Lack of official identification documents mean that a child may enter into marriage, the labour market or be conscripted into armed forces before the legal age.
“Good progress has been made to ensure that more children in Mozambique are registered at birth, or soon after, however there is much more to be done,” said UNICEF Representative, Marcoluigi Corsi. “Key to this will be our continued collaboration with the Government of Mozambique to strengthen the critical partnership between the Ministry of Health and Justice to facilitate registration immediately after birth and UNICEF reaffirms its commitment to support the roll out of this,” he went on to say.
This financial agreement is the second to be signed between the Government of Norway and UNICEF within the last week. On Friday, UNICEF was pleased to accept $2.1 million in funding to support another area of its work on disability and inclusion. UNICEF is continuously to grateful to Norway for its generous support to realize the rights embodied in the CRC, and the rights of every child, both here in Mozambique and across the globe.