Source: World Bank
Maletela Tuoane-Nkhasi, Iftikhar Malik, Josephine Mukesha, and Claudine Marie Solange Nyinawagaga
Ntirugirimbabazi Claudine, a mother of three in the Karama Sector of the Huye District in the Southern Province of Rwanda, had to register her children’s births, as all parents are required to do. She recalls her experience right after she had delivered her babies when she had no other option but to travel to the local government sector offices for registration and birth certificates.
“When our first two children were born, it was my husband who went to the sector office. He took his ID and mine to the Civil Registration Officer and the babies were registered. Even if you had suffered complications during birth, you were required to go to these offices, and it wasn’t easy. The requirements were many, the process was lengthy, and you had to spend money and time on it,” said Claudine.
Just like Claudine’s family, thousands of other families in Rwanda were experiencing hardship in registering their children. The law required them to travel to one of Rwanda’s 416 local government sector office, often forcing parents to take leave from work or childcare duties, and incur transportation costs, in addition to registrant service costs. Moreover, while Rwanda had already been using electronic registration systems, these were fragmented, leading to incomplete databases.
These challenges contributed to Rwanda’s low birth registration rate among children under-5, which stood at only 44% in 2014, with only five percent of these children receiving birth certificates (2014/15 Demographic Household Survey, DHS). Without registration, children cannot enroll in social assistance programs or be admitted to school and protected from child labor and early marriage. Adults cannot apply for identification which is required for employment and a driver’s license, or open a bank account and access credit to grow their business.