A campaign project launched by the Basilwizi Trust is helping undocumented children in the Zambezi Valley access birth certificates for them to be enrolled in school and enjoy all rights as citizens.
The Citizens Campaign for Birth Identification and Documentation (CICABID) Project has identified 904 primary school pupils in eight schools in Binga who are faceless since birth.
Birth registration particulars are essential documents which are a requirement in all aspects of life. There are many challenges affecting the people of the Zambezi Valley owing to the lack of birth certificates. Children are denied their right to sporting activities if they do not possess a birth certificate, some cannot be eligible for Government and NGO programmes such as BEAM, Capernum and Camferd.
According to the Zimbabwe Statistics (ZimStat) 2015 report, only 38 percent of children were registered at their first birth nationally. This prompted Basilwizi Trust and Trace to conduct a baseline survey in the area in 2017. The baseline was to measure the impact of birth certificate registration on access to education and other social services for children. This led to the development of the CICABID Project, says Maxwell Munenge, the programme manager at Basilwizi Trust.
“From the baseline survey it emerged that 43 percent of the children were unregistered. Lack of access to identification particulars by community members was one of the major findings,” Munenge explained. “This is a result of people lacking information on how to access identification particulars and also having to travel long distances to the registration offices in the district”.
CICABID project officer Danisa Mudimba said the project targeted to reduce the number of children between 0-5 years without birth certificates in Binga by 16 percent by the end of 2022.
Basilwizi Trust is a locally based, not-for-profit organisation which builds capacities of the Zambezi Valley people through empowerment programmes. The organisation which has been recognised for its advocacy work on the right to proper documents, was formed in 2002.
Sister Faustina Rumuma, from the Sunrise Children Home in Binga, highlighted the challenges faced by the vulnerable children.
“As a children’s home we face a lot of challenges when it comes to access to birth certificates as we deal with children from all parts of the country,” said Sr Rumuma.
“Some of the children come without any documentation particulars which makes it a long process as we have to get each and every documentation from birth records, village head letters and witnesses.”
Sr Rumuma revealed that the home had three children aged 10, 12 and 18 who had no identification particulars. The 12-year-old girl is a good athlete but cannot participate to higher levels since she does not have a birth certificate.
“She always bursts in tears when the topic of birth certificates is raised,” said Sr Rumuma.
The CICABID project activities include information sharing, widespread awareness on early birth registration within six weeks of the birth of the child to avoid expiration of the birth confirmation record, awareness campaigns though sports, mobile registration, edutainment through school clubs with a bias to birth certificates as a right.
The project is in conjunction with key Government ministries that include Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, Ministry of Health and Child Care, Registrar’s Office and Ministry of Local Government.