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Why a Tsunami Highlighted the Need to Count Every Child in Indonesia

The wreckage in Indonesia 10 years ago painted a clear picture of the need to count every child.
The wreckage in Indonesia 10 years ago painted a clear picture of the need to count every child.
May 26, 2014

A natural disaster in Indonesia only highlighted the need to count every child.

Ten years ago, the Boxing Day Tsunami struck the shores of Indonesia, killing more than 130,000 people and causing massive damage. Among the destruction were countless civil registration documents – including birth certificates.

Recognizing the importance of birth registration before, during, and after an emergency, Plan immediately got to work and started providing cost subsidies to register 5,000 children in Aceh Besar. To ensure sustainability, Plan Indonesia conducted advocacy activities, targeting communities, local NGOs, and district governments to promote free and universal birth registration.

As a result, birth registration was made free for children between 0 and 6 years of age.

“Birth registration is an important tool for protection when there is an emergency, helping protect children from violence, abuse, neglect, and exploitation,” said Nicoleta Panta, Plan's Count Every Child manager. “Plan Indonesia immediately began working to ensure that every child in Aceh had a birth certificate.”

Plan also worked to simplify the birth registration process through temporary mobile registration offices in camps for internally displaced persons.

The organization’s experience in Indonesia made it clear that there is a critical need for birth registration to be mobile, easily accessible, and decentralized.

Since 2005, Plan has helped register 40 million children around the world and influence laws in 10 countries so that 153 million can enjoy the rights that come with a birth certificate.

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