Challenges of child birth registration in Zambia: a case study of Lusaka and Chongwe districts.

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Siame, Stephen Monsi
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The University of Zambia
Birth registration is both a fundamental human right and an essential means of protecting a child‟s right to identity. The Zambian government enacted the Births and Deaths Registration Act, Cap 51, on 14th March, 1973 which provides for compulsory registration of all births in the country without distinction of origin or descent. The responsibility to register all births in Zambia is placed under the Department of National Registration, Passports and Citizenship (DNRPC).A birth certificate can be utilised to promote children‟s rights and freedoms addressed at the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). These were adopted by the UN General Assembly on 20th November, 1989. Despite the advantages associated with child birth registration, studies indicate that levels of birth registration in Zambia are low. This therefore, implies that there could be some challenges that government could be facing in the child birth registration process. Little is known about the challenges that could be associated with child birth registration. This study therefore, sought to investigate the challenges for child birth registration in Zambia. The study was an evaluation research and was a one-time case study. It utilised questionnaires and semi-structured interviews to collect quantitative and qualitative data, which were analysed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences and content analysis, respectively. The sample size was 117 comprising 109 parents and guardians. Of the 109 parents and guardian, 75 (68.8 %) were drawn from Lusaka District and 34(31.2%) were drawn from Chongwe District), five key informant from the DNRPC Headquarters, two key informant from Lusaka City Council, one key informant from Chongwe District Registration office. Using a detailed literature review and questionnaire surveys, the results of the study confirmed the prevalence of challenges faced by government in the process of child birth registration in Zambia. The study found that the challenges faced by government in child birth registration are; poor altitude towards child birth registration, financial challenges, inadequate manpower and poor infrastructure among others. The study also established that socioeconomic factors like income, education and employment status of the child‟s parent and guardian had an effect on child birth registration. It was found that more children with parents and guardians who earn a higher income, who are more educated and in formal employment are registered compared to children whose parents and guardians have low income, less education and without formal employment. In terms of geographical location, the study found that few children from rural areas have their births registered compared to their peers in urban areas. It has also been established that higher levels of child birth registration is found among parents and guardians residing in low population density areas as compared to the high population density areas. It was also found that long distance to the child registration centre prevent parents and guardians to register their children. Based on the above findings, government and the DNRPC should create demand for child birth registration; provide adequate finances; including adequate staff and re-engineer the child birth registration process; provide socioeconomic help to some parents and guardians as an incentive for child birth registration and provide easy access to child birth registration centres. This will lead to high quality of child registration services and increased levels, if not universal birth registration in Zambia.
Registers of births, etc. , Children's rights. , Registers of births, etc.--Statistics. , Birth registration.