Genesis studies why 30% of SA births go unregistered

Project name:
Implementation evaluation of the birth registration programme

Monitoring and evaluation

Public and Social

Area of Expertise:
Evaluation & impact assessment

Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, South Africa


South Africa

A priority for the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) is to ensure the efficient determination and safeguarding of identity and status of South African citizens. A fundamental way to achieve this is an up-to-date, reliable National Population Register (NPR) in which all births are registered in a timely manner. 

Only about 694 000 out of 1.1 million births a year in South Africa are registered. To improve this, the DHA has implemented a variety of initiatives under the Birth Registration Programme. Genesis was contracted by the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) to evaluate the programme to understand why many registrations are not done within the first 30 days of birth.  

Genesis is using a systems thinking approach for this evaluation because birth registration is complex. The evaluation considers the context within which birth registration operates and how this affects the implementation of the DHA’s birth registration interventions. A theory-based evaluation approach is being used in conjunction with the systems thinking approach to better understand the DHA’s birth registration programme and its implementation. To facilitate this, Genesis is developing a theory of change for the Birth Registration Programme. It forms the basis of the evaluation’s analysis framework that is guided by the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC) evaluation criteria of relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, impact and sustainability.

Genesis is using quantitative and qualitative methods to provide evidence on the barriers to birth registration in South Africa and systematically develop recommendations on how timely birth registration can be improved. In doing so, Genesis is undertaking a rigorous literature review, conducting site observations, interviewing key informants and is engaging with the users of the birth registration system.

Throughout the evaluation, Genesis has committed to a consultative and collaborative approach. To effect this, stakeholder engagements are a priority. In line with this, the Genesis evaluation team met the Minister of Home Affairs, Malusi Gigaba, and the deputy, Fatima Chohan, to understand the ministry’s objectives of the evaluation and what is envisioned as the key evaluation outcomes. As part of a collaborative approach and skills transfer initiative, Genesis has included four members for the DHA and one member of the DPME to take part in the evaluation. 


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