Children mobilised in creating branch offices of the Civil Registry

civil registry in the province of Haut-Lomami

Eliel and Gloire (UNICEF DRC 2017 Tay)

PARTICIPATIONEliel, 14, and Gloire, 17, explain their role in creating 343 branch offices of the Civil Registry in the province of Haut-Lomami. We would like to share with you how we participated in the signing of the decree on creating 343 branch offices of the Civil Registry, signed by His Excellency the Governor of the province of Haut-Lomami to show how children have been involved in engagement activities.

Establishing branch offices of the Civil Registry: How did it all start?

It all began in January 2016, when 11 children, ourselves included, from different organisations (schools and NGOs) across the 11 districts in the town of Kamina, have been educated on children’s rights and advocacy.

Upon completing this training, many of us stated that we did not have a birth certificate. Hence why our association, ASBL BATWA BEMBA started a project to raise awareness of the importance of keeping birth records. In 2016, from the month of February we went to health centres with maternity wards and to schools to raise awareness on the right to identity and the importance of the birth certificate in a child’s life.

civil registry in the province of Haut-Lomami

Birth registration in Kamina (UNICEF DRC 2017 Tay)

We also identified all children aged 0 to 90 days and with the help of letter of attorney signed by the parents, we were able to have these births registered before the Offices of Civil Registry. In total, 3700 acts were signed and returned to the parents throughout the province of Haut-Lomami.

Mobilisation on all levels for the right to identity in Haut-Lomami

During this project, we noted that birth registration did not seem to be a priority in the province. The number of secondary civil state offices was insufficient and the process for having the birth certificates signed was too slow.

To combat this problem, we started advocacy work with decision-makers so that all children living in Haut-Lomami could enjoy the right to identity.

civil registry in the province of Haut-Lomami

Advocacy work with decision-makers (UNICEF DRC 2017 Tay)

We also approached the Head of the Provincial Division of Internal Affairs to begin the decree to increase the number of branch offices, we met with the Provincial Minister of the Internal Affairs, Security and Customary Affairs as well as the Governor to encourage them to sign the decree. After a long year of promises, the decree on the establishment of 343 branch offices was signed April 21, 2017.

Will power, courage and especially success

Implementing this project has not always been easy: certain workers from the offices considered us to be a hindrance and hindered us from seeing the authorities. Despite this, we did not give up on our goal and we obtained the signature.

We hope that the branch offices which have just been created will soon be in operation. All children must rally together to encourage their future communities to register births at the Civil Registry. To achieve this, they must be educated on their rights but also on advocacy work. Each child must become an important participant!

More info about birth registration in DRC

The 2013-14 Demographic and Health Survey indicates that only 25% of children under five are registered within the civil registry, and only 14% have a birth certificate. This is due to the registration system struggling to reach new-borns, especially in conflict zones. The Birth Registration Programme focusses on systematising the registration of new-borns by reconciling health services with those of the Civil Registry. Additional Civil Registry offices are also being established to increase the accessibility of services by reducing travel time. UNICEF also carries out “catch-up” activities for the most vulnerable children who have exceeded the legal registration deadline of 90 days, especially those released from armed forces and armed groups, and victims of SGBV.

Translated from French by Alexandria Harris 

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Enfants de Kamina

Depuis qu’ils ont bénéficié d’une formation sur leurs droits et sur la participation, les Enfants de Kamina sont impliqués dans la promotion de leurs propres droits. Ils forment désormais de nouveaux enfants, afin qu’ils se joignent à leurs activités.

Since benefiting from the training on their rights and participation, the Children of Kamina have been included in promoting their own rights. From now on, they will be educating other children, so that they too can join in these activities.

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