NCRA, Freetown, Thursday 11th June 2020 – The Director General of the National Civil Registration Authority (NCRA) Mohamed Mubashir Massaquoi has held a virtual meeting with the new United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) Country Representative to Sierra Leone, Dr. Suleiman Braimohand staff, as part of the NCRA’s continued engagement with Development Partners critical to strengthening civil registration, vital statistics and identity management in Sierra Leone. The meeting was held at the Authority’s headquarters on Walpole Street in Freetown.
The Chairman of the meeting, Hon. Lawrence Leema, Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs, expressed gratitude to Unicef on behalf of the Government of Sierra Leone for the laudable role that they have played in the development trajectory of the Country particularly in the area of births and deaths registration. He said that despite the present focus on fighting the COVID 19 pandemic, the Government is determined to continue to develop skill-set programs at the end of the fight against the disease. Mr. Leema therefore appealed to the new Unicef Country representative to help the NCRA develop a securitised birth register that would put it on a proper footing to be able to have an automated system that they would share with other relevant agencies. The Deputy Minister extolled the NCRA for the work they are doing on behalf of the Government for the people of Sierra Leone and added that he and the Minister Panda -Noah were at the meeting to lend support to the Authority.
The Director General of the NCRA, Mohamed Mubashir Massaquoi expressed his gratitude to the Minister, his deputy and the Unicef country Representative for providing the platform for such an important meeting. He recognized the pivotal role Unicef has played and continued to play when they took over governance of the Country in 2018 and even in the past in the development of civil registration, vital statistics and ID management in the Country and thanked them on behalf of the NCRA and the Government of Sierra Leone. Mr. Massaquoi cataloged the technical and financial support that UNICEF has in the past provided to the NCRA which included among many others, the support towards the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) guided Comprehensive Country Assessment (CCA) of CRVS that was achieved in a record time of 3 months and the hiring of both the national and international consultants for the project. According to the Director-General, the CCA informed the development of a 5-year CRVS and ID Management Strategic Plan (SP) which informs the operations of the NCRA from 2019 to 2023. Other areas of Unicef’s intervention that the DG highlighted includes their partnership with UNDP to support the NCRA to develop an operational and resource mobilisation plans for the implementation of the 5 year Strategic Plan; capacity building of healthcare workers that the NCRA is working with in the Peripheral Health Units (PHUs’) and other healthcare facilities across the Country so as to sharpen their skills and increase their knowledge in managing vital events of births and deaths; the facilitation of Sierra Leone’s participation especially the NCRA at a number of international fora that has bearing on CRVS and ID management that has been helpful for the Country to showcase its plans and the gains we have made. Mr. Massaquoi also cited Unicef’s support to the NCRA in 2018 to undertake a rapid assessment of health facilities across the country to find out their readiness to support births and deaths registration and if they meet international standards; the rapid assessment done by the UN Legal Identity Agenda Mission for the UN legal identity agenda and most recently, the procuring of securitised and serially numbered births and deaths certificates.
The Director General praised the work of the Unicef team in Sierra Leone particularly Mr. Stefano Shwarz and Mrs. Nasal Kamara, Child Protection Officers and before them Madam Danga who have all helped to establish a cordial relationship with the NCRA.
In his statement, the Unicef Country Representative, Dr. Suleiman Braimoh extended a congratulatory message to the Minister of Internal Affairs for his appointment and thanked the DG of NCRA for providing formidable leadership in steering the affairs and activities of the Authority. Dr. Braimoh informed the participants at the meeting that Unicef is challenged with limited resources and therefore the need to keep prioritizing and reprioritizing during various quarters in time so that resources could be shifted towards primarily saving lives and the livelihood of the people of Sierra Leone. But that notwithstanding, the UN Representative acknowledged, he will take into consideration the request for assistance made by the Deputy Minister and the Director General that could further make the work of the NCRA very effective and efficient in the area of birth registration which is an area of interest and mandate of Unicef. Dr. Braimoh assured the NCRA and the Minister, the Deputy Minister and members of the Unicef staff that birth registration is an area of priority for Unicef.
Dr. Braimoh proposed that the Minister recommend one or two technical persons to join Unicef staff to discuss priority areas of interest in the NCRA Strategic Plan that they and other development Partners will discuss and support at this time and in the next 5 years.
The Minister of Internal Affairs, Mr. David Panda-Noah on behalf of the Government of Sierra Leone thanked the Unicef Country Representative and staff for their work in the Country.
“The government of Sierra Leone recognizes these many other significant efforts of Unicef as key in the on-going reform of the Civil Registration, Vital Statistics and Identity Management System in Sierra Leone,” the Minister maintained.
The Minister added that as a responsible government under the astute leadership of H.E President Bio, they will continue to count on Unicef as a major development partner in births and deaths registration in particular. He however appealed for the continued support of Unicef and highlighted the immediate needs of the NCRA as follows: an integrated Civil Registration System upgrade to strengthen birth registration to interoperate with DHIS-2; sustained public education and communication to increase birth registration coverage and completion; capacity building for birth registration of health workers, District/local Council focal points and logistical support. These areas if focused on, the Minister said “will help the NCRA achieve its strategic objectives for universal birth registration, identity for all, and to enable documentation for all to enjoy their citizenship rights especially women and children.”
Minister Panda-Noah affirmed that at the Ministry of Internal Affairs they have a great role for the NCRA for credible and real time data sourced from the Permanent Civil Register which is important for the security of the nation. He appealed for the consideration of the immediate needs of the NCRA in the Unicef prioritization and reprioritization of its funding.
In his concluding statement, the Director General of the NCRA assured the Unicef Representative of the readiness of his technical team to meet with the staff of Unicef to discuss further, the NCRA immediate needs and an agreed timetable for such a meeting.
The Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs, Mr. Lawrence Leema thanked Unicef for their continued support and collaboration which he said will continue to yield dividend especially in births and deaths registration across the Country.
IEC DIRECTORATE, NCRA
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