UNICEF's Eva Gilliam reports on efforts to improve child registration in Côte d'Ivoire.
Tags:Birth Registration for Children in Côte d'Ivoire,Birth Registration for Children in Côte dIvoire,birth registration in Ivory Coast,birth registration in the Ivory Coast,improving access to birth registration in Cote D,unicef,united nations childrens fund
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Improving Access to Birth Registration for Children in Côte d'Ivoire
Eva Gilliam: It’s Tuesday morning and these children are warming up for a day of study at a primary school in the heavily populated neighborhood of Abobo in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. Once they pass 5th grade, they would have to present their birth registration papers. This means that at least half of them will not be able to present the state exams and continue their schooling.
These statistics get worse in the North and Northwest of the country, where UNICEF estimates that between six to nine children out of ten are unregistered.
Victoirine Coulibaly: They told me to come with my papers, but I didn’t have them. They told me to bring it the next day otherwise I wouldn’t pass the exams.
Eva Gilliam: A strict and complicated administrative process means parents don’t often pull it together to register a child.
Mearit Hirvonen: The problem is that the child has to be registered within the first three months of his or her life. And normally that’s the father of the family who should do that. And mothers are waiting for the father to do it, and many times they just don’t get it done. Then it means you have to go to the court after three months, and that’s a very expensive and difficult exercise.
Eva Gilliam: Even if a parent had the time and money for the registration, many cannot travel the distance required to make the formalities in the birthplace of the child.
Adama Coulibaly has been the caretaker of his unregistered nephew, whose father denied paternity at birth.
Adama Coulibaly: They are asking me to go there, to the tribunal in Korogoro, 600 kilometers from Abidjan, to make the request to the judge who will then give me an appointment, requiring the presence of the two parents, plus the child.
Eva Gilliam: Children expelled from school are more likely than not forced to work. This often means technical work as a laborer, mechanic or seamstress. Yet many children left to their own devices slip off the grid and slide under the radar.
With the elections coming at the end of November this year, UNICEF has developed a plan that would work on a strategic national level to register millions of children.
Maarit Hirvonen: We will try to improve the civil register system, and also and also strengthen the registering system at the community level, so it’s more accessible to the population.
Eva Gilliam: UNICEF is preparing for the moment when they can give an identity to the Ivory Coast one child at the time.