A Rapid Overview of Birth Registration Systems in Namibia: Taking Stock

Published: 1/Nov/2012
Source: UNICEF and Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration

Authors: Matthew Dalling and Gopalan Balagopal (CRC4)


This document provides a rapid overview of the birth registration system in Namibia. It draws together and analyses the mission field reports of 2012, the available civil registration data and the observations of the UN Committee on the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). It also articulates UNICEF Namibia’s approach to supporting the Government of Namibia in its efforts to achieve universal birth registration in the country.

The Namibia Demographic Health Survey (NDHS) published in 2007 revealed a significant decrease in under-five birth registration rates – from 70.5% in 2000 to 67.4% in 2006. This occurred concurrently with burgeoning numbers of vulnerable children, many of whom were living with extended families. The Government responded with an innovative strategic approach of establishing birth registration facilities in 22 hospitals to register children at birth, scaling up sub-regional offices from seven in 2007 to 26 in 2012, and targeting hard-to-reach areas through strengthened inter-ministerial outreach partnerships and mobile campaigns.

These strategies have shown positive results in a short time, as illustrated by the significant increase in registration rates from 42 303 in 2008 to 65 828 in 2011. This is a doubling (56%) of the birth registration rate increase in approximately three years. Significantly early registration (defined as under one year) have also doubled – from 20 417 to 41 443 births registered over the same period – with late registration rates remaining largely unchanged because of the existing backlog.

In 2012 the United Nations Economic Council for Africa requested the Namibian Government to present before the Second Conference of Ministers in Charge of Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) (6-7 September 2012). In preparation, the MHAI hosted an expert mission to assist the delegation to prepare for the conference, and to document some of the Namibian birth registration experiences. The Namibian Government had also submitted its State Party report on the CRC, and shortly thereafter, on 20 September 2012, met with the UN Committee on the CRC at the 61st Plenary Session. The Committee was impressed with the tremendous progress made over the last three years in prioritising civil registration, but raised concerns about statelessness and the registration of births of children of undocumented migrants.

Download from UNICEF: https://www.unicef.org/namibia/na.UNICEF_Birth_Registration_Field_Assessment_2012.pdf

Themes: Birth Registration
Regions: Namibia
Year: 2012