By Peter Duru, Makurdi
The Sustainable Mechanism for Improving Livelihoods and Household Empowerment, SMILES, in collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development, USAID, has identified over 30,000 children without birth registration and certificates in parts of Benue state
This was disclosed at the weekend in an advocacy meeting the organizations had with the National Population Commission, NPopC, to ensure a mop up by registering the new born and issuing birth certificates to benefiting children.
Speaking during the advocacy meeting, the State Coordinator of SMILES, who is also from ActionAid Nigerian, Mr. Godwin Agia said the intervention was covering seven local government areas of the state including Ado, Otukpo, Vandeikya, Kwande Gwer Esat, Oju and Okpokwu.
He said the objective of the advocacy was to develop solutions to the challenges associated with birth registrations and the issuance of birth certificates.
Agia noted that his organization had identified birth registration as a major challenge confronting the state.
According to him, “birth registration and certificates is a vital document because a birth certificate is a valid document that is required at the point of a child gaining admission into school.
“Unfortunately in some cases a comprehensive data is not kept making it impossible for people especially in the rural communities to know their ages, hence the advocacy and intervention.”
On his part, the SMILES State Programme Manager, Sunday Udom
identified the issues, gaps and challenges that made it impossible for CSOs to achieve issuance of birth certificates.
He said the purpose of the advocacy was for the State NPopC team to understand and find possible ways of bridging the gaps to enable a successful mop up to meet the urgent need and demands from USAID.
Udom also emphasized the import of birth registration and the need to embark on the mop up of registration exercise in the targeted local governments areas.
On his part, the Head of Department Vital Registration, NPopC Benue state, Ayuba Isa emphasized the importance of collective efforts towards achieving the task of ensuring a complete mop up in order to avail the new born registration and birth certificates.
Also speaking, the Director Child Benue Sate Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development (MWASD) Mr. Fidelis Alumunku who lauded the initiative emphasized that all the plans put up as action point should be conducted to enable the children affected have a legal identity as Nigerians.
He commended ActionAid Nigeria for the role they have played on the SMILE project stressing that their support, coordination and supervision in the state was highly commendable.