Since January 2011 the National Population Commission of Nigeria has been implementing decentralized monitoring using the mobile-phone based platform RapidSMS. The system was designed to identify in real-time, centre-by-centre birth registration disparities, and prompt and facilitate appropriate action.

Where it is implemented
As of September 2012, RapidSMS is operational in 33 states (686 Local Government Authorities (LGAs); 2,887 registrars/registration centres).  The RapidSMS training for the final  three states is currently underway. This means that by the end of November 2012, all of the 36+1 states (774 LGAs and 3,148 registrars/registration centres) will be covered by RapidSMS.

How it works
Each Registrar has his/her unique ID and reports the number of birth registration cases every other week. Those reported cases are all updated on the RapidSMS dashboard which is accessible over the web.

This means that registration centres that are regularly registering births (and those which are not) become public knowledge. It is often very difficult to understand the mechanics of service delivery and what services are actually being delivered on the ground from the top of the three-tiered Federal government system of Nigeria. RapidSMS has made it easier for the Federal and state managers to see what’s going on on the ground. Once they determine which LGAs have lower birth registration rates, they can investigate ‘why’ this is the case.

Managers at the National Population Commission of Nigeria have been asking ‘why? Using the RapidSMS data they are now able to identify LGAs with low birth registration rates and assess why they are not working well. In sum, the most remarkable action triggered by the RapidSMS data collection is the consistent monitoring of the dashboard at the National, State and the LGA levels leading to clear accountability. To borrow words of the Lagos State Head of Department, “there is no more hiding place for Lazy registrars!”

The information is also compiled within the following age bands: 1) Under 1; 2) 1-4 yrs; 3) 5-9 yrs; 4) 10-17 yrs. Disaggregation (boys/girls) is done for all the age groups. Using the estimated number of births per LGA in 2011 (note: determined based on extrapolation of 2006 census data and crude birth rate), the monthly U-1 registration coverage (per LGA) is computed, which is compared to the 65% and 80% targets.
LGA U-1 Registration coverage (%) = # of Under-1 children registered in LGA
Total expected births in LGA

by Noriko Izumi, Child Protection, UNICEF Nigeria

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