Giving every child the right to a legal existence in Niger

Giving every child the right to a legal existence in Niger

Armed with their birth certificate, these children have a nationality and can then obtain an identity card proving that they are Nigerien citizens. That means that they can sit their exams, continue their education, work, travel, exist!

Inizdane Mohamadou, school headmaster

CONTEXT

The EU and UNICEF are helping Niger to overhaul its civil registration system by boosting capacity, providing materials and equipment, and promoting public awareness and participation.

OBJECTIVES

  • To support the development of the national statistical system for the promotion of governance and monitoring and evaluation of poverty.

RESULTS

  • The proportion of children registered at birth has doubled from 32% in 2006 to 64% in 2013.
  • Since the adoption of the Civil Registration Act in 2007 the country's 2 169 civil registry centres have been tripled.
  • Between 2009 and 2011 over 1.6 million birth certificates were issued to children under the age of 18.

FACTS AND FIGURES

  • Because of the distance between the nomadic population groups and the administrative centres, the law permits a 30-day declaration period.
  • Mobile court hearings are organised to register people who have missed the legal deadline for registration, without penalising them.

PARTNERS

TESTIMONY

Birth certificates opening doors to better education and enables the exercise of full rights

Inizdane Mohamadou is a school headmaster and he will be travelling from his village to Akbounou, the capital of his commune, where a mobile court hearing will take place to register sections of the population whose births were never recorded.

His job is to ensure that all of his pupils have a birth certificate by the end of the day. "This is a momentous opportunity for us. Having these documents is so important for the people of our commune," he says.

He lives in a remote little village in the Tahoua region of northern Niger. Infrastructure there is limited and villagers often need to walk several kilometres to access basic public services.

His school is one of 27 in the huge 5 300 square kilometre commune to which his village belongs. The civil registrar is responsible for a population of 47 000, scattered across numerous villages in the area.

"Because of the distance, many parents fail to register their newborn children with the Civil Registry Office by the official deadline. These mobile court hearings give them the chance to put things right," he explains.

Only three of the hundred and four pupils in his little school have a birth certificate. Yet, without this document they are unable to register for examinations to get into high school, so their education must end.

Inizdane explained the parents how important it was to register their children. Although not all of them are able to make the trip today because they can't afford the transport or have work commitments elsewhere, the headmaster has reassured them that he won't let them down.

He hops onto his moped and rides back and forth along the 14 kilometres of track with children riding pillion on each trip. "I've already done three round trips on my moped with two kids riding on the back each time, so that's six children who have had their births registered. The village chief does the same thing," he went on.

Appart from organising transport Inizdane also helps the authorities register his pupils by pre-filling their declarations. It's a repetitive, time‑consuming task that requires a huge amount of concentration.

All around them the atmosphere is celebratory.The children and their parents who have made the trip wait impatiently for the precious key to official existence that will finally enable them to exercise their full rights.