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UNICEF pledges Cameroon support to drive up birth certificate issuance

UNICEF pledges Cameroon support to drive up birth certificate issuance

The Cameroon country representative of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Nadine Perault, has held talks with Decentralization and Local Development Minister on building a stronger partnership for the issuance of birth certificates.

This was the main item on the agenda when the UN official met Georges Elanga Obam recently at the ministry in Yaounde. The UN agency official said they talked about how to build up synergy with government and other ecosystem partners in order to increase the number of children who possess the foundational identity credential.

Birth registration and birth certificate issuance rates remain pretty low in Cameroon, more so in remote and somewhat neglected parts of the country such as in the Peninsular of Bakassi.

Speaking to reporters after their meeting, Perault emphasized the importance of a birth certificate, saying it is important for every child to have the foundational document which is required for exams registration and other crucial uses.

Perault disclosed that her exchange with Obam touched on how they can build synergy with other stakeholders in order to support government’s issuance efforts.

“I met the Minister to talk about an important question, which is the issuance of birth certificates to children. A birth certificate is like a passport which gives a child the chance to showcase their full potential,” said Perault.

Underlining the importance of the document, the official said a child without the credential cannot take advantage of the opportunities available during their childhood, and even when they have grown into adulthood.

“It’s a question for us the United Nations, other partners and the government to work together so as to be able to move the birth registration figures up and to ensure that all children, particularly those who don’t have birth certificates but who are already old enough to sit exams, don’t drop out of school because they don’t have this essential document,” Perault added.

She said as part of the support, they are looking forward to working with officials of decentralized regional and local institutions such as mayors in order to “define the procedure to be used to facilitate the massive issuance of birth certificates so that children can enjoy the benefits of this all-important document.”

Over the years, government has been trialling a digital birth registration system in some regions of the country within the framework of enhancing the issuance of birth certificates. Authorities say they’ve also been working on a new civil status registration legislation to tie in with the imminent changes to civil registration in the country.

Last August, Obam launched a government-led campaign to issue 500,000 birth certificates to children who do not have the important document.

UNICEF is also involved in enhancing birth registration efforts in neighbouring Nigeria.

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