UN Resident Coordinator in Zambia, Dr. Coumba Mar Gadio on Wednesday lauded the southern African nation for how it is seriously dealing with civil registration and vital statistics issues by updating legislation and policy and making the process more accessible to citizens.
Speaking at the Press Conference on the 5th Conference of African Ministers responsible for Civil Registration, Dr. Gadio said it was no accident that Zambia was hosting the important meeting.
“It is a tribute to how seriously the government takes civil registration and vital statistics. For despite the importance of identification and ongoing efforts to improve these processes, many African governments still lack adequate, viable, complete and digital registration systems,” she said.
Zambia has been updating its policies and making registration more accessible. The country has also built an integrated and digital national registration system that covers Zambians from birth to death.
Dr. Gadio said the UN system was readily available to help Zambia in perfecting this process.
“I know in the area of birth registration, UNICEF, with funding from the European Union, has been a key partner. And UN agencies have been working closely with the ministry of Home of Affairs, notably the Economic Commission for Africa, IOM, UNFPA, UNHCR and WHO, which have helped with technical and financial support both nationally and through the African structures,” she said.
“To ensure sustainability of these efforts, Zambia should take strides to find sustainable financing mechanisms for CRVS. The UN stands ready to accompany you in this endeavour, including through exploring innovative funding mechanisms and expanded partnerships.”
Dr. Gadio said the conference provides an opportunity to African governments and stakeholders to sensitize and raise awareness among the people on the importance and use of civil registration, adding the meeting will also provide a useful platform for resource mobilisation to supported continued CRVS reform.
The UN Resident Coordinator said it was unfortunate that half of the children in Africa were not registered at birth, which should be the foundation for any civil registration system.
“These are the citizens that are frequently most exposed to poverty and other vulnerabilities. Not being registered renders them unseen, uncounted and excluded. By extension, this affects their ability to enjoy universal human rights and social protection benefits,” said Dr. Gadio.
She added that migrants, refugees and those displaced through humanitarian crises were ‘particularly vulnerable when they lack identity and travel documents. Incomplete civil registration systems mean millions of African people have come into this world and left without leaving a trace on official records’.
For his part, Director of the African Centre for Statistics at the Economic Commission for Africa, Oliver Chinganya, explained the importance of the conference and importance for Africa to modernize and build a comprehensive civil registration and vital statistics system for the betterment of its people.
He said over the past eight years the UN and its partners have noticed tremendous improvement in the registration of African children at birth. More still needs to be done, however, he added.
Mr. Chinganya said the ultimate goal of the conference was to ensure Africa meets sustainable development goal target 16.9 that seeks to ensure everyone on the continent has a legal identity, including free birth registration by 2030.
The high level conference provides an ideal platform for the sharing of experiences, policy guidance and lessons learned among countries and governments.