Lack of reliable and accurate population data makes policy formulation, politics and development planning quite difficult.
It is a must for nations to have an understanding of the size and composition of its populace. This information is necessary for sustainable development.
Population data is obtained from population census, vital event registrations such as civil registration and sample survey.
Civil registration is the best source of demographic data as compared to sample surveys and population census. The last two sources of population data are not conducted continuously.
Registration of birth is very important because it opens avenues for the enjoyment of other rights. Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) will be able to achieve their goals if we have accurate and timely data on which children are doing well and which ones are left behind.
It is so unfortunate that an excess of 110 low and middle income countries lack functional civil registration systems.
According to Addis Standard, there are many children who are never registered. Ethiopian Demographic and Health Survey (EHDS) estimates that less than 10% of children under the age of 5 are registered. Somali Regional State of Ethiopia is reported to have the lowest level of birth registrations with only 1% of its children under 5 with their births registered.
A million dollar question is what are the challenges which prevent the registration of child births in Somalia Regional State? Let us take a look at some of the bottlenecks:
- Logistical and financial challenges – this leads to employment of competent staff leading to low quality data;
- Lack of government commitment and poor understanding among major stakeholders leading to poor coordination. There is poor integration between civil registration, education, health and statistical institutions in the Somali Region;
- The nomadic lifestyle of pastoralists of Somali Region and lack of understanding of the value of civil registration is another big challenge;
Recommendations for improvement
- Legal reforms;
- The government should have a system in place which uses traditional birth attendants to notify of new births where pastoralists are not able to register births;
- Assigning a dedicated registrar to registration of Somali pastoralists can bring better results;
- Official and non-official fees on civil registration should be abolished in order to encourage more residents of Somali region to register all births;
- The regional government should work towards improving interoperability and coordination in order to improve civil registration systems;
- NGO partners (UNICEF and UNHCR among others), city administrations, health and education stakeholders should work together to sensitize the residents of Somali region on the importance of birth registrations;
- Civil registration should be made compulsory before crucial services are offered, hence increase demand for birth registration documents; however this should be carefully implemented to ensure that children of migrants also benefit from social services without discrimination;
- Training of government officials should be prioritized in order for them to properly deliver on their mandate;
- Last but not least, the Somali regional government should allocate sufficient resources towards civil registration;
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