Addis Ababa, 26 November 2021 – A four day Expert Group Meeting of African Registrar Generals and Director Generals of Civil Registration has officially begun in Kigali, Rwanda.
The meeting that runs between November 23 – 26 is organized by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) in collaboration with Rwanda’s National Identification Agency (NIDA) under the theme, “Building back better: A sustainable, resilient recovery of Civil Registration and Vital Statistics Systems after COVID19”.
The objective of the meeting is for the heads of Civil Registration Offices to share experiences, best practices and practical solutions in developing and fast-tracking improvements in resilient CRVS systems.
Rwanda Minister of State in Charge of Social Affairs, Assumpta Ingabire at the opening of the meeting said Africa continues to make progress in the improvement of CRVS Systems with multiple initiatives taken across the continent.
“This meeting comes at a time when there is a need to examine how to rebuild CRVS Systems after the disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. It is a platform that will enable continued consultations and knowledge sharing among countries to discuss and agree on the how to provide services better amidst emergencies,” said Ms Ingabire.
She noted that there here are still challenges to address; the insufficiency of resources allocated to CRVS initiatives have affected the improvement process. More efforts need to be given to increase citizens’ engagement and awareness.
According to the minister, the recent strategic plan for the programme running from 2017-2021 has come to its end and this makes it timely for countries and partners to take stock of the progress made and to identify strategies and actions for the next phase of the programme.
Ms Ingabire said the capacity building of national CRVS professionals is a major area of focus and should be the pillar of the African Program on Accelerated improvement of CRVS (APAI-CRVS) strategy and plan.
She added that Registrar Generals need a platform for knowledge sharing. “This is the right time to acknowledge the purpose of the proposed Committee of African Registrar with the aim to establish a consultative network” said the minister
Since 2015, the government of Rwanda undertook strategies to improve civil registration. To better align its efforts with the CRVS decade’s agenda, a series of civil reforms were made but mainly through legal reforms
To move from paper based civil registration to electronic one, national centralized and integrated CRVS was initiated to record all civil events and currently births and deaths are being recorded at their places of occurrence.
The minister thanked ECA and the Secretariat of the Africa Programme for Accelerated Improvement for Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (APAI-CRVS) and the Africa Regional CRVS Core Group for choosing Rwanda to host this extra ordinary meeting of Registrar Generals of CRVS.
Oliver Chinganya, Director, African Centre for Statistics, ECA said, “Covd -19 has revealed the weaknesses of systems including for Civil Registration. It is therefore imperative that we devise mechanisms that are resilient to crisis such as the current pandemic.” This he said requires adopting new approaches and technologies as well as maintaining the momentum of CRVS systems improvement programmes.
The ECA director noted that the African governments have realized the critical role that CRVS plays in generation of vital statistics and data for policy, strategy and decision taking. He thus congratulated countries for the confidence they have demonstrated amidst these turbulent times, to not only convince their leadership to designate CRVS as essential services in almost all African countries, but also allocate emergency funding to strengthen your systems and re-engineer them to be more robust.
“Civil registration systems have not been spared and already begun to experience disrupted services at all levels. We therefore need to identify immediate actions to ensure business continuity and especially modernizing our CRVS systems to enable remote service delivery and strengthen mortality reporting for improved data for management of emergencies,” he said.
“I also appeal to development partners to support member states as we strive to explore innovative ways of sustaining the CRVS systems and identify opportunities for leveraging on existing funding opportunities and relevant programmes to build back better systems.”
Mr Chinganya said the meeting compliments many on-going initiatives to review progress of the regional APAI- CRVS programme; provide a platform for peer-peer learning among African Registrars through sharing of knowledge, experiences and best practices in the development of CRVS systems, and finally on formalizing the platform for Registrar Generals, to be convening annually.
He appealed to member states to consider strategies that have been identified and prioritized in Africa as being effective to provide quick wins for countries.