Telenor Pakistan and UNICEF have handed over the Digital Birth Registration (DBR) system to the Punjab Government.
After its successful launch and implementation in 5 pilot districts, the local government in Punjab is now all set to take over the Digital Birth Registration project and scale it across the province. The project transfer took place at an event in Lahore, attended by officials from Telenor Pakistan and UNICEF along with Punjab Government officials.
Designed with the goal of birth registration for kids under the age of 17, with a special focus on children under 5 years of age, the Digital Birth Registration system, since its inception in 2016, has already helped recognize the identities of approximately 1.8 million children across Pakistan.
The DBR project ensures that every child gets their basic right of identity which would lead to giving them better access to education, healthcare, and basic human rights.
Together, UNICEF and Telenor Pakistan have facilitated the creation of easy to access, convenient, and real-time mechanisms bringing birth registration to the doorstep in far-flung, hard to reach areas, thus reducing the high opportunity cost and time incurred by the parents.
This successful public-private partnership model has shaped regional collaboration in technology and best-practice sharing for the achievement of universal birth registration for children across South Asia.
Commenting on the development, Irfan Wahab Khan, CEO Telenor Pakistan, said, “Millions of children in Pakistan remain unaccounted for and without an identity despite birth registration being the fundamental right of every child. Our collaborative initiative Digital Birth Registration has been instrumental in giving unnamed children an identity, thus bringing Pakistan a step closer towards socio-economic empowerment and the eradication of social inequalities.”
“After successfully handing over the project to the Sindh Government, today, UNICEF and Telenor Pakistan are furthering this ambition by handing this flagship project to the Punjab Government to scale across the province and reach more families. Together with UNICEF, we are stretching the boundaries of inclusion while enabling the nation’s transition to digitalization in every aspect,” he added.
“Government of Punjab is striving hard to translate the vision of Prime Minister of Pakistan of Digital Pakistan. Today we are advancing towards the realization of an inclusive digital society. Local Government Department Punjab, in collaboration with NADRA, has launched a web-based application to have real-time and authentic data for better planning,” said Mahmood ur Rasheed, Minister for Local Government Punjab.
“Birth Registration is the proof of legal identity of children and is our responsibility towards international commitments,” he added.
Wilbroad Nagmbi, Chief Field Office, Punjab, commented, “Birth Registration is a fundamental right of a child recognized by the convention on the right of the child (CRC). Registration of birth is the first legal binding at the national and international level to incorporate the full range of human rights.”
“In addition to contributing to a country’s civil registry, birth registration also strengthens the quality of vital statistics, straightening planning and government efficiency. Moreover, a child who remains uncounted is less likely to be included in development policies and planning for the provision of social services. Ownership of the idea of digitization by LG&CD Department Punjab through the Launch of Baldiaonline Application is highly appreciated,” he added.
“Local Government Department is focusing on Girl Childbirth Registration and due to socio-cultural constraints, registration of girl child is low in South Punjab,” said Noor ul Amin Mengal, Secretary Local Government Punjab. “LG&CD Department has formulated Birth & Death Registration Rules to facilitate the general public and enhance registration. In the future, the department plans to integrate with the health sector for scaling up birth & death registration in Punjab,” he added.
The upscaling of the DBR project shall ultimately contribute to universal birth registration for children in Pakistan; an obligation that Pakistan upholds under the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the government’s commitment under the Asia Pacific Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) Regional Action Framework.
The Digital Birth Registration project will also help Pakistan in fulfilling its commitment to fulfilling Sustainable Development Goals (16.9), particularly those relating to children.