Malawi has moved to register all children alongside issuing national identity cards (IDs) to facilitate easier issuance of birth certificates on request and IDs when the child attains the age of 16.
This means that in addition to issuing national IDs to nine million people in the forthcoming mass registration beginning in June, millions of children will also be registered.
The move follows a request from the National Registration Bureau (NRB) to the Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security that a large number of children were being missed through the birth registration exercise being carried out at health facilities.
In an interview on Monday, NRB public relations officer Norman Fulatira confirmed that there was a huge backlog of birth registrations which were not attended to.
He said: “The bureau would be requesting information such as name, date of birth and details of the person registering them.
“Any child who was born but does not have a birth certificate will be registered to get into the government system.
“By age 16, it will be easier to issue [them] a national ID. We will link them with parents and it will be easier to note if the person is a Malawian national. This means we will be registering 17 million Malawians.”
The bureau believes that the registration of all children will improve the pace of attending to requests for birth certificates as they will already have details in the system.
Fulatira said issuing a national ID to a Malawian who turns 16 years would be simplified because the number allocated for the birth certificates would be the one on the ID.
To date, NRB has printed 30 000 IDs following a proof of concept and first phase of the national IDs programme.
During the first phase, the bureau registered a section of civil servants while in the second phase, more civil servants and special interest groups such as Malawians on social cash transfer schemes would be targeted.
The bureau has also registered prisoners in selected prisons such as Maula in Lilongwe, Chichiri in Blantyre and Mzuzu. The exercise is yet to take place at Zomba Central Prison and other prisons.
In the first ever mass registration for issuance of IDs starting in June, districts in the Central Region would be covered in phase one and two while Southern Region districts would be covered in phase three and four with the Northern Region taken care of in the last phase.
In a statement made available to The Nation, the bureau said: “In each phase, up to 2 000 registration teams will be deployed to register Malawian citizens in registration centres throughout the country.
While 10 biometric registration kits were procured for the proof of concept, about 2 000 are expected in the country for the mass registration exercise.
The production of national IDs, which has been 13 years in the making, was one of the reforms the Ministry of Home Affairs and Internal Security presented as part of the Public Service Reforms.n