NCRA COMMEMORATES 6th CRVS DAY IN SIERRA LEONE.
34 Military Hospital, Freetown
Sierra Leone, through the NCRA, joins other African countries to commemorate the 6th Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) Day on the theme:
*THE POTENTIAL TO INCREASE COVERAGE, IMPROVE QUALITY, AND TIMELINESS OF DATA THROUGH DIGITIZATION OF CIVIL REGISTRATION SYSTEMS. *
The CRVS community in Africa has kept the tradition of commemorating the CRVS Day 10th August every year. This is the Sixth CRVS day being celebrated during the fourteenth year since the establishment of the Africa Programme for Accelerated improvement for Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (APAI-CRVS). This day was adopted by the 32nd Ordinary Session of the AU Executive Council in 2018 as a vehicle to enhance advocacy on the importance of CRVS Systems for Africa’s growth. It is also an occasion to voice support to country, regional, and global commitments to strengthen CRVS Systems and increase stakeholder coordination to maximize available resources. This year’s celebration commits African countries to transform and modernize their CRVS Systems through digitization.
“As a country, I am humbled with joy to report that Sierra Leone has made monumental strides in achieving the desire of the APAI-CRVS, the AU, and UNECA. From the darkness, a light thus emerges. From uncertainty, we have built hope, and from small beginnings, greater things are beginning to come.” Director General of NCRA; Mohamed Mubashir MASSAQUOI noted in his opening remarks.
The potential for digital technologies to increase coverage, improve quality, and enable real-time data has proved to be immense.
“As an AUTHORITY, in our move to increase coverage and quality of CRVS data, the NCRA with technical assistance from the EU has established a Directorate of Vital Statistics responsible for monthly and periodic collection, compilation, analysis and production of data generated from Civil Registration Systems consistent with Section 26 1) of the NCR Act, 2016” DG MASSAQUOI informed.
In successive conference of Ministers responsible for Civil Registration meetings, it has been outlined that Digitization promotes not only interoperability, but also enhances outreach and links Civil Registries among others health systems for more timely and complete notification of Births and Deaths events. The NCRA DG confirmed that Data are collected on a regular basis from Health facilities, NCRA offices, and other designated outlets and collated, but without an automated system. DG MASSAQUOI however noted that with support from the European Union through UNOPS, a modern integrated CRVS System has been developed that enables Data collection from registration services directly from the system thereby, enhancing timeliness in data production for Vital Statistics purposes.
Since the launch and introduction of the Electronic Registration and issuance of Securitized Certificate system, over 200,000 Citizens and other Residents have their Births, Adoptions, Marriages, Divorces and Deaths registered and linked digitally to the ID Management system of the NCRA. It is worth noting that Sierra Leone is among the few countries in Africa integrating CRVS with identity management systems.
“On 30th June 2016, the Government of Sierra Leone, following a policy on Civil Registration reform mandating all previously fragmented and truncated registration of Vital Events as well as ID Management to be consolidated and integrated into one entity, passed a law to the effect,” said DG MASSAQUOI “The 2016 National Civil Registration, Vital statistics and National Identity Systems which is very much consistent with the UN guidelines and international best practices.” He added.
Sierra Leone’s effort to march towards fully realizing the desired integration remains on track. Since March 2022, access to services whether public or private such as enlistment into Social Security Scheme, Vehicle registration and licenses, Immigration Services, Enrolment into Public and Civil Service as well as placement into the Centralized Government Payroll System, Business and Tax administration, SIM Card registration, Land and Property registration, Enrolment into Academic institutions, e-KYC for financial institutions and Credit Reference checks to enhance financial inclusion, Registration for Public Exams among many others is linked to the National Identification Number (NIN) assigned to Registrants who are enrolled into the CRVS and Identity Management System.
Additionally, it is important to mention that since 2018, the Voter Register is extracted and updated from the Civil Register in Sierra Leone.
The Director General ended by expressing gratitude for the support received from the UNDP, UNICEF, UNFPA, EU and Irish Aid in supporting the GoSL to integrate the CRVS and Identity System and Digitization process the country is currently undergoing. “With your supports, I am happy to say that Sierra Leone is far ahead of many other African Nations in the Digitization of the CRVS and ID Management System.” DG MASSAQUOI ended.
The UNICEF Representative in Sierra Leone; Mr. Rudolf Schwenk expressed delight in commemoration the 6th CRVS Day, citing that Digital innovation is of critical importance for the development of Civil Registration and Vital Statistics systems. The CRVS Day according to Mr. Schwenk sets out a desired future for CRVS that can specifically be achieved using Digital technologies and explains how technology can be cost-effective means to improve CRVS Systems and processes.
“if properly employed, ICTs can make a significant contribution towards achieving universal registration of vital events, providing legal documentation of civil registration as necessary to claim identity, civil status and ensuing rights, and producing accurate, complete and timely vital statistics,” the UNICEF representative cited “though digitization offers a transformative path to amplify our efforts to increase coverage, improve data quality, and enhance the timeliness of information, we should however embrace these technological advancements while safeguarding data privacy, security, and equitable access.” He furthered.
In Sierra Leone, UNICEF’s support to the Government, working primarily with the NCRA, and other partners has focused on improving the supply and accessibility of Birth registration services through development, piloting and scale up of a digital application using mobile technology for the notification and registration of Births, and training of over 4,000 Births and Deaths Registrars, Community Health Workers and Health Workers from health facilities across the country, and institutional support to decentralize and strengthen birth registration services among others.
Mr. Rudolf Schwenk pledged UNICEF’s continued support and commitment to the NCRA and other partners in realizing the potential of digitalized CRVS systems. “We will keep working diligently to further strengthen CRVS systems and enhance their reach through building capacity, improving data quality, and harnessing the power of innovation to bridge existing gaps, we are harnessing the potential of technology to modernize and streamline these systems, making them more accessible and efficient for all.” He reiterated
In her remarks, the UNFPA Deputy Representative; Ms. Sibeso Mululuma marked off by stating that a well-functioning CRVS system is the best source of continuous and up to date information on Birth, Death and population statistics. These statistics, according to Ms. Mululuma serve as the denominator for a wide range of population-based targets and indicators in the SGDs.
“The theme for this year’s Africa CRVS Day underscores the need to strengthen the civil registration system through digitization in order to improve quality and timeliness of data” noted the UNFPA Deputy representative.
Ms. Sibeso Mululuma reaffirmed UNFPA’s commitment to collaborating with the Government of Sierra Leone, alongside other stakeholders in strengthening the country’s Civil Registration System, which will in turn steer Sierra Leone towards the effective measurement of progress made towards the aspirations of the SDGs and the Africa 2063 agenda.
Delivering her speech, the Keynote speaker of the event; the Honorable Minister of Gender and Children’s Affairs; Dr. Isata Mahoi, noted that Civil Registration is of immense importance to her ministry, citing CRVS as the cornerstone of national machinery for the protection and empowerment of women and children.
Dr. Mahoi stated that birth registration is an important aspect of child protection system strengthening, and a fundamental element of child protection framework. “It has seen a remarkable progress since the inception of the NCRA.
Nevertheless, challenges persist, particularly among marginalized communities and vulnerable populations who still encounter barriers in registering vital events such as births, deaths, adoptions, and divorces.” Dr. Mahoi informed the gathering.
The implications of inadequate vital statistics cannot be underestimated. For women, the lack thereof increases vulnerability to gender-based violence, including domestic abuse, property dispossession, sexual violence, and restricted child custody rights.
“In our pursuit of advancing civil registration and vital statistics systems, we must embrace the realm of innovation to unlock new frontiers of data collection and accessibility. The convergence of technology and social progress has birthed a spectrum of possibilities, from the utilization of user-friendly mobile applications that empower citizens to register vital events effortlessly, to harnessing the transformative potential of block chain for immutable and secure record keeping.” Said Madam Minister.
Sierra Leone’s steadfast commitment to bolstering Civil Registration and Vital Statistics systems resonate within the larger tapestry of regional and global progress.
In attendance were representative from various sectors including the Sierra Leone Armed forces, the Police, Nurses, market women, civil society organization, Irish-aid, UNDP, Ministry of Health and Sanitation as well as suckling mothers with their babies.
The event was climax with a demonstration of live birth registration process using the CRVS and ID management system managed by the NCRA. The registered children were certificated, issued to them by representative of the CRVS development partners, the Hon. Minister of Gender and Children affairs and the Director General of NCRA. The event was chaired by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Mr. Sheku Kargbo.