Over 26,000 children in Cameroon who are not in the civil registry will now have birth certificates as government has disbursed over FCFA 266 billions to establish the legal document for such children.
The initiative is part of commemoration of the 33rd Day of the African Child to be celebrated on June 16 on the theme “The Rights of the Child in the Digital Environment.”
Ahead of the celebration, the Minister of Women’s Empowerment and the Family, Marie Therese Abena Ondoa has signed an agreement with 21 councils for the enrollment of 26,691 children without birth certificates in the civil registry at the cost of slightly over FCFA 266 billion.
The agreement was signed on June 15, 2023 in Yaoundé with mayors from 21 councils in six regions ; Centre, Littoral, East, North, Adamaoua, and the South.
21 beneficiary councils
This is the second time the Ministry of Women’s Empowerment and the Family is disbursing finances for birth certificates for ‘ghost’ children. In 2022, a similar initiative was carried out in 9 councils in four regions — North West, Adamaoua, East and Centre.
The 21 councils that are concerned with this second agreement are ; Nitoukou, Mengueme, Amos, Ngoumou, Ajonina, Bot Makak, Esse, and Ebebda for the centre. Only the Bare council was selected in the Littoral region. Councils from the East are Messamena, and Mboma, Ngoyla. The Datcheka, Figuil councils in the North, the Mbe, Mayo Baleo in the Adamaoua and
the Kribi Llème, Bipindi, Ebolowa, Biwong Bulu were selected in the South region.
The 2014 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) estimated the national birth registration for children below 5 at 66.1%, with the lowest rates in the North ( 61%), East (58%), South West (56%) and Far North (42%).
A study carried out by the National Institute of Statistics in 2022 further revealed that 30% of children under the age of five are not registered in the civil registry. Still in 2021, 1.600.000 children attended school without a birth certificate according to the Ministry of Women’s Empowerment and the Family. Sadly, there are still millions of children without birth certificates.
The committee on the Rights of the Child which held
between May-June 2017 recommended that Cameroon should increase human, financial and technical resources dedicated to birth registration.
“We have a lot of children without birth certificates and the Ministry of Women’s Empowerment and the Family has to make sure that every child that is born within the family has a legal existence. Without the birth certificate, the child can not take an official exam.” Prof. Marie Therese Abena Ondoa said.
Among the 21 mayors who received financial aid for the production of birth certificates is Jean Baptist Amvouna Atemengue, mayor of Ngoumou Council. He has expressed gratitude for the government effort.
“We are very happy because from this day our children can have a legal existence and be able to carry on with studies. We will educate the population so they can avoid unforeseen circumstances for children without a legal existence in the future,” Jean Baptist Amvouna Atemengue, mayor of Ngoumou Council said.
Prof. Marie Therese has called on the mayors to endeavor to establish the birth certificates before the new school year and ensure parents collect them on time.
Kathy Neba Sina