Civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) are quite literally matters of life and death. In the realm of development, there can be little measurable progress made in countries that do not keep track in the form of reliable legal records of their populations. After all, without a birth certificate or an identification document, an individual cannot easily vote, own property or exercise other essential human rights.
Development institutions such as the African Development Bank (AfDB), African Union Commission (AUC) and the United Nations recognize that CRVS are critical to assuring good governance, the protection of human rights, the successful implementation of development programmes, and the monitoring and evaluation of development on the ground. In fact, the improvement of CVRS is a key element of the post-2015 development agenda.
From February 9-13, the Statistics Department of the AfDB, in collaboration with the AUC, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, has organizing the Third Conference of African Ministers responsible for Civil Registration and Vital Statistics in the Ivorian capital of Yamoussoukro. The theme of the 2015 conference is a noble one: “Promoting the use of Civil Registration and Vital Statistics in support of Good Governance in Africa”.
The overall objective of the conference is to contextualize CRVS in the realm of governance and discuss ways in which a complete and efficient CRVS system can help countries to achieve good governance. The meeting aims to mobilize countries in the following ways: to assist them in envisioning this important link between vital statistics and good governance, to guide them in developing and implementing specific strategies and operational plans that will facilitate the realization of good governance, and to help them mainstream a good governance approach in their civil registration and vital statistics programmes.
The conference is also taking stock of the progress made in the implementation of the Africa Program for Accelerated Improvement of CRVS (APAI-CRVS) and providing policy guidance to address the various challenges experienced in the course of implementation of the programme in the last four years. The conference is expected to provide clear directions for establishment of sustainable CRVS systems on the continent and at the same time identify priority actions that will lead to concrete outcomes in the short-term.
The main outcomes of the conference include:
- The sharing of experiences among countries in form of successes and challenges in the implementation of CRVS programmes;
- Wider appreciation and recognition of good governance approaches to CRVS;
- To provide policy and programmatic guidance towards the establishment of complete and efficient CRVS systems in Africa by addressing the following issues:
- sustainable capacity development strategy on CRVS;
- accessibility of registration services, particularly through the health sector;
- inter-operability with national identification and electoral systems;
- choice of appropriate technology solutions;
- civil registration in conflict and emergency situations;
- gender and CRVS.
Discussions will also focus on innovation and the use of information and communication technology (ICT) in improving registration coverage and services as well as the CRVS systems themselves. A draft outline of a new guidebook on the use of ICT in CRVS will be presented and discussed.
Civil registration and identification systems are critical pillars of one identity platform that is essential for a country’s development.
Recent global and regional efforts to finance CRVS plans at the regional and country levels are also under discussion. The AfDB is working to mobilise resources for the improvement of CRVS in African countries.