230 Million Lives

It is estimated that around the world 230 million children under five have not been registered—that means their birth is not recorded anywhere, they cannot obtain a birth certificate and more importantly they will not be able to have access to any number of services. UNICEF which conducted the studies said that last year only 60% of all babies born were registered. Failure to register children excludes them from education, health care and social security kind of benefits. In short it curtails their opportunities. The barriers to registration are wide ranging from parents who are unaware of the importance, to cultural barriers and fears of the misuse of personal information or of such things as reporting births out of wedlock. The ten countries with the lowest birth registration are Congo where 28 % are registered, Pakistan (27%), Guinea-Bissau (24%), Yemen (17%), Chad and Tanzania (16%), Zambia (14%), Ethiopia (7%), Liberia (4%) and Somalia (3%). Legally these children may not exist, but registered or not they are human lives with real suffering, real hunger and real needs. It may seem ironic in an era of mega data collection from several sources and several countries, but the irony underlines that registering 230 million lives ought to be achievable.