Putting children in Rural Guinea on the books
“I do not want my child to be invisible …” — Aboubacar Camara, father
In the village of Colèyadi 2, at the foot Mount Gangan, more than 3,000 people have come the centre of the village to register their girls and boys who, legally, do not exist. Almost 50 per cent of Guinean children have no official status blocking their access to most social services.
The local committee for children and families, known by its French acronym CLEF in Kindia works with families on issues of children protection explains the importance of civil registration. In Colèyadi 2, they told the families, “when the child is born, beyond the joy of the family, the father or mother must do everything to have the official document reflecting the child’s existence. Not doing so will hurt your child, because she will remain unknown, invisible to the country.”
Immediately, Malick Camara, a rice farmer, responded: “Rest assured, I will never accept that my namesake, this beautiful baby, is invisible!” as he proudly presented his three month old son.
Here, the messages were heard, but this is not always the case. Guinea’s staggeringly low civil registration numbers are why the national authorities, in collaboration with UNICEF, hold annual birth registration campaigns to improve this situation.
Mamadou Lamarana Ditinn Barry, head of SERACCO (Regional Service for Community Support and Coordination of NGOs), is on the team. “Working with rural radio to mobilize the people, we reached 45 communities in just one week in June.”
The child identification campaign aims to register and regularize the cases of all ‘’ invisible ‘’ children. But civil and birth registration is not as simple as filling out a form. The documents are reviewed and certified by the courts and then an official birth certificate is issued. Currently, in Kindia, the region next to the capital of Conakry, treatment of 4,500 such certifications have been completed and are ready for distribution to the families.
In 2016, the goal is to have 60 per cent of children registered, which motivates the teams on the ground. “Because of our work, Kindia has registration rates 6 per cent higher than the national average,” said Mr. Barry.
There is still a long way to go in this region. For many reasons, including the devastating Ebola outbreak, almost 150,000 children in Kindia alone have not been registered.
UNICEF’s work on birth registration in Kindia is supported by UNICEF Switzerland who has been supporting this programme since 2014.