Friday, April 29, 2016

Getting feedback from citizen to improve birth registration services in Viet Nam

Giang Seo Lu is living in a remote village in Si Ma Cai district of Lao Cai province, located in the Northern mountainous area of Viet Nam. Lu has never gone to school. His daughter was born in 2011. Like most of the H’mong ethnic minority children in the area, she was delivered at home. Lu had not thought of having her birth registered because there were so many requirements to get the job done. Firstly, he had to walk two hours down the mountain to the commune centre. Then, they would ask for many papers which he did not have such as his marriage certificate or the confirmation paper of the birth of his daughter. Besides, filling in the application forms would be challenging job for him as he was illiterate.

Photo: UNICEF Viet Nam\2016\Nguyen Thi Thanh Huong
Lu’s story is common for many families in the remote mountainous areas of Viet Nam. Although Viet Nam has made impressive progress in birth registration, it is estimated that 359,000 children under five years old in Viet Nam do not get a birth certificate and most of them are living in the hard to reach area. Without having their birth registered, they officially do not exist in the administrative system and therefore have been deprived from the basic child rights such as the rights to health care and education.

To support Viet Nam to further improve the situation of birth registration and reach those unreached, UNICEF supported the Government to carry out a survey to explore the root causes, the influencing factors as well as the barriers of birth registration, especially in the disadvantaged areas. Using social audit tool named Citizen Report Cards, the survey collect feedback about quality of service and satisfaction assessment of people who registered birth certificate in rural communes of Lao Cai province.

When the survey team met with Lu in 2015, he has already got the birth certificate for his daughter. Being reminded so many times by the local authorities, he finally decided to make a trip down to the commune centre in late 2014. To his surprise, the judicial officers supported him enthusiastically and the requirements for paper work was simpler than he thought. “The judicial staff guided us enthusiastically. However, the procedure of issuing birth certificate for a child was still complicated because it required household registration book and confirmation paper of the child’s birth”, Lu said. He also suggested to strengthen the communication about the importance of birth registration to villagers. “It’s important that everybody are aware of and carry out birth registration for their children on time so that their children have free health inssurance cards”, he said.

Photo: UNICEF Viet Nam\2016\Nguyen Thi Thanh Huong
Three hundred people in six disadvantaged communes of Lao Cai province participated in the survey to provide their opinion about the quality of the birth registration services such as the access, the use, and the fee involved. Based on their opinion, the survey also provided a number of recommendations for improving and enhancing the quality of registration service for children birth certificates in the coming years.

“Citizens, as service users, are in the best position to provide useful feedback on quality, effectiveness and relevance of such public services as well as constraints or difficulties that they encountered when using the service. The Citizen Report Cards tool sees service users as clients, therefore their opinions and feedbacks are very important for the process of designing, providing and evaluating public services of the Government”, said Yoshimi Nishino, Chief, Social Policy and Governance Programme of UNICEF Viet Nam.

With support from UNICEF, since 2010, Citizen Report Cards has been piloted and implemented in some provinces to assess public services, especially those for women and children in the provinces of Dien Bien, An Giang, Dong Thap, Kon Tum, Ho Chi Minh City and recently in Lao Cai. Results and recommendations of Citizen Report Cards were widely shared with related parties, especially governments, service providers and the people in order to further improve quality and effectiveness of the essential public services for children.

By Thanh Huong, January 2016


  1. A video was posted on Facebook of a woman severely beating a girl. Someone who wrote a comment thought the people in the video were speaking Vietnamese. If I can confirm this is in Vietnam, can you direct me who to contact about seeking help? I don't know anything about the video clip - how old it is or its origin. It was posted for public view by Teli Nil Rajeshbhai on September 5 at 5:29am so you should be able to see it.

    Thank you for any assistance you can provide.

    Chris Arabadjis

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