Monday, August 2, 2010

Liberia: Govt Launches Decentralized Birth Registration/Certification System for Children

The Informer (Monrovia)
2 August 2010

"In my village, people count a child's age by the number of farms (annual harvests) their parents make. I am happy that my son has a birth certificate and is officially registered in the country's record," said Love Gibson, the mother of two-year old Jacob Jallah. Jacob was the first child to be registered and certified by the new decentralized birth registration and certification system of Liberia that was launched today.

There are more than 50 million children in the world whose births have not been registered. Sixty percent of these children live in Sub Saharan Africa and South Asia. In Liberia, only 4% of under-five children out of 750,000 are registered and possess birth certificates, the second lowest in the world. This means that more than 20% of the population of Liberia is officially 'non-existent,' without names or record of birth.

Registering every child in Liberia

The new birth registration and certification system aims to register and provide birth certificates to all children in Liberia, approximately 1.6 million of them, by the end of 2011. "This is an important programme of the government to have a credible recording system that will aid in quality planning and budgeting for children and overall national development," said Liberia's Vice President Joseph N. Boakai, as he launched the birth registration and certification system in front of hundreds of mothers and children, and officials from the government, diplomatic missions, UN, civil society organizations and the media.

Lead by the multi sectoral National Universal Birth Registration Task Force, and the Office/Bureau of Vital Statistics, Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, the registration and certification process will be carried out in two phases, the first phase (till the end of 2010) targeting under-five children in six counties, and the second phase in 2011 will register all children in all the 15 counties.

Families in villages or towns can register their children directly with the Assistant Registrar at the office of the General Town Chief or at the local health facility. The district registrars compile and send these records electronically to the national database via smart phones. The registration forms are also archived at the county

office. Based on these forms and the electronic records retrieved from the national database, the county offices print the birth certificates. The certificates are collected by the district registrar and delivered to the child's family. The whole process will take a maximum of two weeks.

Speaking on behalf of the UN system in Liberia, the UNICEF Representative, Ms. Isabel Crowley said, "Children have to count and be counted for the development of this beautiful country. The United Nations reaffirms it continued support to the government and civil society in making birth registration a successful and sustainable system."

Working better together

The birth registration and certification system has become a reality due to the combined efforts of the government, civil societies, the private sector and the UN. While the government's Vital Statistics Bureau and the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare is coordinating the whole process in the country, Crisis Management Initiative (NGO) is supporting web based technologies through smart phones in partnership with private companies like Nokia and CellCom, Plan Liberia (NGO) is leading the awareness and social mobilization, UNHCR is supporting the recording and documentation process, and UNICEF is investing in supply of birth certificates, data base development and training of officials and volunteers involved in the registration and certification process.

Spreading awareness through community partnerships

Partnership and involvement of community officials and leaders in communities is crucial for the success of the registration and certification process. Consultations and trainings are presently undergoing across the country with more than 1500 paramount chiefs, town chiefs and county /district officials. In the coming months, community radios, schools, youth and women groups, sports groups and traditional communicators will all be involved in spreading awareness and encouraging families to register their children.

Back at the John F. Kennedy Hospital, Love Gibson is proudly displaying Jacob's birth certificate. "I am going to put this certificate in a frame and hang it on my wall. This certificate will make a big difference in Jacob's life. I will encourage other mothers out there to make sure their children also get a birth certificate," she said.

News Headline

Inside Liberia with Bernard Gbayee Goah

Everyone is a genius

Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. – A Einstein

Drawing the line in Liberia

Crimes sponsored, committed, or masterminded by handful of individuals cannot be blamed upon an entire nationality. In this case, Liberians! The need for post-war justice is a step toward lasting peace, stability and prosperity for Liberia. Liberia needs a war crimes tribunal or some credible legal forum that is capable of dealing with atrocities perpetrated against defenseless men, women and children during the country's brutal war. Without justice, peace shall remain elusive and investment in Liberia will not produce the intended results. - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Men with unhealthy characters should not champion any noble cause

They pretend to advocate the cause of the people when their deeds in the dark mirror nothing else but EVIL!!
When evil and corrupt men try to champion a cause that is so noble … such cause, how noble it may be, becomes meaningless in the eyes of the people - Bernard Gbayee Goah.

If Liberia must move forward ...

If Liberia must move forward in order to claim its place as a civilized nation amongst world community of nations, come 2017 elections, Liberians must critically review the events of the past with honesty and objectivity. They must make a new commitment to seek lasting solutions. The track records of those who are presenting themselves as candidates for the position of "President of the Republic of Liberia" must be well examined. Liberians must be fair to themselves because results from the 2011 elections will determine the future of Liberia’s unborn generations to come - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's greatest problem!

While it is true that an individual may be held responsible for corruption and mismanagement of funds in government, the lack of proper system to work with may as well impede the process of ethical, managerial, and financial accountability - Bernard Gbayee Goah

What do I think should be done?

The situation in Liberia is Compound Complex and cannot be fixed unless the entire system of government is reinvented.
Liberia needs a workable but uncompromising system that will make the country an asylum free from abuse, and other forms of corruption.
Any attempt to institute the system mentioned above in the absence of rule of law is meaningless, and more detrimental to Liberia as a whole - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's Natural Resources
Besides land water and few other resources, most of Liberia’s dependable natural resources are not infinite, they are finite and therefore can be depleted.
Liberia’s gold, diamond, and other natural resources will not always be an available source of revenue generation for its people and its government. The need to invent a system in government that focuses on an alternative income generation method cannot be over emphasized at this point - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia needs a proper system
If Liberians refuse to erect a proper system in place that promotes the minimization of corruption and mismanagement of public funds by government institutions, and individuals, there will come a time when the value of the entire country will be seen as a large valueless land suited on the west coast of Africa with some polluted bodies of waters and nothing else. To have no system in place in any country is to have no respect for rule of law. To have no respect for rule of law is to believe in lawlessness. And where there is lawlessness, there is always corruption - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Solving problems in the absence of war talks

As political instability continues to increase in Africa, it has become abundantly clear that military intervention as a primary remedy to peace is not a durable solution. Such intervention only increases insecurity and massive economic hardship. An existing example which could be a valuable lesson for Liberia is Great Britain, and the US war on terror for the purpose of global security. The use of arms whether in peace keeping, occupation, or invasion as a primary means of solving problem has yield only little results. Military intervention by any country as the only solution to problem solving will result into massive military spending, economic hardship, more fear, and animosity as well as increase insecurity. The alternative is learning how to solve problems in the absence of war talks. The objective of such alternative must be to provide real sustainable human security which cannot be achieved through military arm intervention, or aggression. In order to achieve results that will make the peaceful coexistence of all mankind possible, there must be a common ground for the stories of all sides to be heard. I believe there are always three sides to every story: Their side of the story, Our side of the story, and The truthBernard Gbayee Goah


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