Perception and Practice: A Review of Birth Registration in Addis Ababa and the Regional State of Oromia, Amhara and SNNPR, Ethiopia

  • Birth Registration
Pages: 80
Year of Publication: 2005
Country: Ethiopia

The right to be registered at birth is enshrined under Article 7 of the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) which states that: “The child should be registered immediately after birth and shall have the right from birth to a name (and) to acquire a nationality.” Yet, UNICEF estimate that 36 per cent or 48 million children are not annually registered at birth. Plan and other child focused institutions recognise birth registration as a priority issue that must be promoted universally. 

Given that Ethiopia is one of the few countries in the world with no birth registration system, the births of around 2.9 million children every year are not legally recognised. Consequently, Plan and the African Child Policy Forum initiated this study with the overall objective of developing a comprehensive understanding of 
birth registration in Ethiopia from the local up to the institutional level and, based on this understanding, proposing a multi-stakeholder approach for a fully functional birth registration system in Ethiopia that is compulsory, universal, permanent and continuous. 

The study covered Addis Ababa and the regional states of Oromia, Amhara and SNNPR with a total target of 531 informants (40 per cent female) representing: policy makers, including members of parliament; sectoral offices, including health and education, law enforcement and judicial agencies; birth certificate  issuing institutions, including hospitals, churches and municipalities; service seekers of registering institutions; school principals and children; children in difficult  circumstances; and community representatives drawn from the local administration, religious leaders, community-based organisations and women/youth associations. The methodology of the study was a mixture of qualitative and quantitative methods covering different visual and oral as well as group and individual data collection techniques. 

The study also included a review of the legal and policy framework for a birth registration system, an assessment of individual and institutional perceptions of birth registration, practices related to birth certification in Addis and the regional sites, and the effect and impact of the absence of birth registration on institutions and individuals. Stakeholder analysis and a comprehensive literature review were also undertaken.

The study demonstrates that there is limited understanding about what birth registration means across regions and research informants and at individual and institutional levels. The aim of achieving Universal Birth Registration (UBR) is not understood, nor is the duty of the Ethiopian Government to respect, protect
and fulfil Article 7 of the CRC. In addition, it is not widely acknowledged that birth registration is part of a reliable civil registration system generating data on vital events which provide the basis for effective governmental planning and policy.

The study confirmed the absence of both a formal and informal birth registration system in Ethiopia. In an attempt to fill this vacuum, what has emerged is the practice of birth certificates being issued by churches, hospitals and municipalities. The study also established that birth registration is not viewed as a prerequisite for issuing a birth certificate. While churches and hospitals may consult baptismal records and delivery notes in order to issue the certificates and municipalities require some kind of proof of identity, no ‘register’ of births is maintained.

Language: English
Published by: African Child Policy Forum (ACPF)
Author: African Child Policy Forum (ACPF)
Located in: Publications

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Founder Assefa Bequele, PhD

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