Over 90 per cent of children living in the Afram Plains North and Afram Plains South districts have not been registered as citizens of Ghana.
A survey conducted by the Ghana News Agency (GNA) Media Auditing and Tracking of Development team showed that most parents in the two districts do not have birth certificates for their children and themselves.
Out of 94,868 children between ages 0-14 living in the Afram Plains per the 2010 census report, less than 9,000 of them mainly from the urban areas have birth certificates, a figure which is less than the 17, 410 urban children in those areas combined.
Almost all the 77, 456 children living in the rural areas in the Afram Plains, are likely not to have birth certificates as shown by the survey conducted at Supom, Agotime and Mem-Chemfre.
The GNA Medias Auditing and Tracking of Development Projects is sponsored by STAR-Ghana under a project aimed at promoting participatory democracy, social accountability and good governance.
All the 30 parents who responded in the survey did not have birth certificates for their children.
Some of the parents even did not know what the birth certificate is and produced weighing cards to show as birth certificates.
“The hospital where I delivered did not give us any birth certificate,” one of the women, a mother of three, told the GNA team.
Currently, the two districts do not have an office of the birth and death registry and officers of the registry visited those areas on rare occasions to register the people.
Mr Ernest Ewusi, the District Social Welfare Officer in-charge of the two districts, said recently the Department, in collaboration with World Vision Ghana, collected data on children in the Plains “and it was so sad that just a few of them had birth certificates.”
He said the situation was worrying and that “it affects the Department’s planning for children in the two areas, especially those in rural communities.”
Mr Ewusi suggested that a district birth and death registry be opened in the two districts to get the children especially those in the rural areas registered.
The GNA gathered that , most of the parents living in the rural areas and on the islands did not deliver in health centers and so do not even have weighing cards for their children.
Mr Samuel Foster Omane, the Eastern Regional Director for the Birth and Death Registry, said “I will agree with you on the assertion that more children have not been registered in the Afram Plains.”
He said his outfit was aware of the challenge and that they wished they had the capacity to solve it but they were handicapped.
“The communities in the Afram Plains are scattered, especially those on the islands and this makes it very difficult for us to get there to register the people,” he said.
“What makes the situation more worrying is that, we don’t have any vehicle to go round with; we have to rely on public transport, meanwhile we have not received subvention the whole of this year,” he said.
Mr Omane said inadequate staff was another challenge which militated against their efforts as a result of which they did not have any office in the plains.
He said in the whole of Eastern Region, the birth and death registry had less than 25 staff with 19 spread across the 26 districts and the remaining in the regional office.
According to Mr Omane, for a while now, the whole Region was short of birth registration forms “and our printers are saying we owe them and that they would no longer supply us with the forms until we have redeemed our debts.”
He said his office was not in the position to register anybody until the forms are available.
Mr Omane expressed commitment to salvage the situation in the Afram Plains by arranging with the two District Assemblies to train volunteers who would help in registering births in those areas.
He appealed to parents in those areas to take the initiative to register their children anytime the officers were around. GNA