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Low birth registration in Zimbabwe and ensuing roadblocks explored on ID16.9 podcast

Low birth registration in Zimbabwe and ensuing roadblocks explored on ID16.9 podcast

Zimbabwe’s low birth registration rate is raising concerns among community observers, as those without legal identities may struggle to access schooling, health care and other services.

On the latest episode of the ID16.9 podcast, Tafadzwa Mavudzi, a monitoring and evaluation specialist for the NGO Nutrition Action Zimbabwe, tells host Frank Hersey what she’s seen in her work with vulnerable communities across the country, in which only 49 percent of people under five registered nationally in 2019.

“Most people that we have been meeting don’t have an identity document,” says Mavudzi, “so it’s difficult for them to get identity documents for their children. So, their children will not go to school. If they don’t go to school, it means it’s affecting their literacy level.”

Mavudzi describes a cascade of issues, closed doors and missed opportunities that can result from having no registered identity, from economic struggles to multi-generational stacks of individuals with no legal identity, making correction hard.

“It can actually happen that a generation of people have been going on and on without birth certificates. Usually, it becomes a cycle because if I don’t have an identity document, there’s a high possibility that my child also doesn’t have an identity document. And it goes on and on like that.”

“One of the things that people have been advocating for is this process to be made easier for them. If a birth certificate could be given at birth — if all this can be decentralized, so the moment I deliver my child in the clinic of the hospital, I can just get my identity document right there.”

Mavudzi identifies the need for a simplified legal system for both birth registration and registering identities for older people, but cites cost and lack of resources as barriers to change.

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