In an article published on May 8th, 2013, Alassane Diedhiou, the National Coordinator of Tostan in Guinea-Bissau was featured in the local newspaper O Democrata as the “Figure of the week” in an article by journalist Assana Sambú.
The article highlighted an initiative led by Tostan in 2012 to provide birth certificates to people living in Tostan partner communities, adopted communities, and other villages in the regions of the country where Tostan works in Guinea-Bissau. The importance of birth certificates is discussed with participants in the Kobi 1 module of the Community Empowerment Program (CEP). The Kobi 1 module covers democracy and all human rights; birth certificates and other forms of civil registration are discussed during the sessions on the right to a name and nationality – these documents are critical for proving a person’s legal status as a citizen of the country, and are necessary to attend school, obtain marriage licenses, passports, driver’s licenses, and for international travel.
The initiative began when community members asked Tostan, local leaders and government representatives for assistance acquiring birth certificates after learning about their human rights through the CEP. It is difficult for many people living in rural areas to obtain these official documents, as some lack the financial means necessary to pay for the birth certificate, and the process requires a trip to the country’s capital – the only place where they can apply for them.
Tostan facilitators and supervisors were trained in techniques to assist people apply for the birth certificates. In collaboration with the government, Community Management Committees (CMC) in partner villages, UNICEF and UNFPA, Tostan was able to help a total of 8,968 people obtain their birth certificates – of which 5,414 were children and 3,554 were adults.