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Report, Human rights & justice, Global governance, Africa, Reach Alliance, Munk School

Reaching the Hard to Reach: A Case Study of Birth Registration in South Africa

The 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are momentous, not only for their ambition but also their unequivocal clarity. SDG #1 declares the imperative of “ending poverty in all its forms everywhere.” A key mechanism for eliminating poverty is the guarantee that everyone has a form of legal identity. For instance, SDG 16.9 proclaims: “By 2030 provide legal identity for all, including birth registration.” South Africa is a success case when it comes to increasing birth registration. According to the 2013 UNICEF report, Every Child’s Birth Right, South Africa’s birth registration rate (inclusive of current and late registrations) increased from under 25% in 1991 to 95% in 2012. This increase in birth registration is a remarkable achievement given that a 95% registration rate is considered “universal.” South Africa’s commitment to ensuring that the births of newborns are registered demonstrates extraordinary will and capacity to reach those who are hardest to reach.