Over 8 million children targeted for birth registration

A registration exercise by NRB during national elections

* A country that has its citizens registered can easily budget and plan for the services to be rendered

* The exercise will enable Malawi achieve the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 16.9

* Which talks of provision of a legal identity for all including birth registration

By Patricia Kapulula, MANA

Government, through the National Registration Bureau (NRB), has embarked on a mass child registration (MCR) campaign targeting 8.4 million children under the age of 16 across the country.

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The MCR will start in October with a pilot phase in the Lilongwe Rural East, Karonga and Mwanza where 600,000 children are expected to be registered and issued with a unique national identification (ID) and a birth certificate.

Minister of Homeland Security, Jean Sendeza said in Lilongwe on Tuesday during an MCR stakeholders consultative workshop that the exercise is important, saying a country that has its citizens registered can easily budget and plan for the services to be rendered.

However, she expressed concern that despite efforts to target adult registration being successful, initiatives for child registration are still in infancy — hence the exercise to close the gap.

Minister Jean Sendeza

She said the exercise will enable Malawi achieve the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 16.9 which talks of provision of a legal identity for all including birth registration.

“Malawi experiences a structural development challenge in citizens’ rights to identity in the absence of a national identification,” she said. “Registration, therefore, is important as it provides legal identity and an opportunity for everyone to be counted.”

Sendeza assured the stakeholders that NRB will soon have heavy duty machines that will be printing the birth registration certificates as well as the national IDs in the quickest possible manner in order to address challenges of late production of the documents.

Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson, Justice Chifundo Kachale said the Commission is looking forward to the exercise, saying it is instrumental to curb illegal voter registration.

Justice Chifundo Kachale

He emphasised on the need for an accurate birth and identity register, describing it as important in helping clean the national voter register.

“We are committed to work with NRB to ensure that national identification is up to date in order to consolidate our democracy as we curb illegal registration,” he said, while appealed to government to invest in registration to ensure that electoral exercise is not under challenge due to ineligible voter registration which can have an impact on electoral processes.

Present at the workshop were development partners, representatives of political parties, religious leaders and government ministries and departments, among others.

Malawi Government and development partners are contributing towards finances for the exercise which is expected to be concluded by 2023.

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