Roeselare (Belgium)-Dogbo (Benin): No kids without birth certificates

30 January 2018

PLATFORMA has decided to reward the best city to city and region to region international cooperation projects. Twelve projects have been shortlisted out of 25 applications. This is how Roeselare (Belgium) is presenting its project with Dogbo (Benin):

In Benin, more than 40% of births are not registered. It means that these children have no legal existence. A proof of legal identity is however required to obtain a passport, open a bank account, have a driver’s license, vote and access education and social security services. Without birth certificates, children do not exist and can even be abused. In addition, the civil registry helps to make estimates of the population in order to meet its needs, to implement national and sectoral policies in the fields of employment, housing, urban and land use planning, education, health (vaccination), etc. Without the systematic recording of all births and deaths, it is impossible to plan for the future. The civil registration is a competence delegated by the central state to the communes since 2003.

The Dogbo Town Hall has started the process of systematic birth registration, making it one of the first municipalities in Benin to engage in this process. In order to have a lasting solution, the Dogbo Town Hall has taken corrective and preventive measures with its partners to put an end to irregularities in the registration of birth certificates. Multiple problems were not obvious to solve. In addition, the context of voodoo plays an important role and influences in many cases the proper registration of births.

The process for birth registration was described according to the methodology of a risk matrix. Roeselare and Dogbo have started this exercise since 2012. The Dogbo Town Hall and the city of Roeselare have developed a proactive strategy, an integrated approach that involves:

  • Analysis of the risks of mismanagement of civil registration
  • The development and implementation of a roadmap
  • The multi-stakeholder approach (involvement of village chiefs and district chiefs, community relays, health workers, religious leaders, “crowned heads”, wise men and women, community elders)
  • The use of SIGEC software for scanning, electronic archiving of documents and data management.

This strategy includes several innovative activities:

  • The capacity building of actors in the birth registration chain
  • Raising awareness of the populations by different channels of transmission
  • Digitization of acts in a database (software) and electronic archiving of data
  • Strengthening civil registration staff (recruitment of 9 new agents including one per district)
  • Free distribution campaigns of documents
  • Capitalization of information to lobby at national level

Currently, the town of Dogbo has become a reference/a best practice in the field of civil registration. It recorded from 2013 to 2016 more than 40 field visits of the sister communes, state and international structures (the DGEC, UNICEF, MF, GIZ, CEFORP, CTB…).

(Translated from French by PLATFORMA)

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