ISLAMABAD: UNICEF, in cooperation with the provincial governments of Sindh and Punjab, along with Telenor Pakistan, is all set to launch a pilot mobile registration project which will facilitate parents who wish to register the births of their newborns with one click. It is estimated that over 60 million children under the age of five are deprived of legal identity in Pakistan.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Sarah Coleman, child protection chief at UNICEF Pakistan, said the pilot project for mobile birth registration will launch in district Pakpattan, UC Kaliana in Punjab by the end of July and in two UCs – Gharo and Dhabe Jee in district Thatta, Sindh, by early August.
The aim of this pilot project is to grant newborns an identity right from their birth which is their fundamental right, she said.
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The UNICEF child protection chief further stated that according to the Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey (PDHS) 2012-13, the national birth registration rate of children under the age of five was 33.6 percent which is worrisome.
Meanwhile, sharing the province-wise breakdown of birth registration rates, she said currently, Punjab is on top with 77.2 per cent followed by Sindh with 25.1 per cent, K-P with 19.8 per cent, AJ&K 24 per cent, Gilgit Baltistan 23.3 per cent and Balochistan with only 7 per cent.
“The main reason behind the low birth registration rate in Pakistan is lack of accessibility, no availability of required services and most of all tedious and lengthy document filling procedures,” she said.
In the majority of remote areas, parents have to travel long distances to get their child’s birth registered and when they reach, they have to stand in long queues and wait for their turns.
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Also, because of predominantly low literacy rates they find it difficult to fill the registration forms, she said. “On the other hand there are many parents living in remote areas who are unaware of the importance of birth registration,” said Coleman.
“Under this project we are using technology to ease the procedure of birth registration so that every newborn gets access to the fundamental right of individual identity,” she said.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 16th, 2015.