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Development Account Projects

Strengthening the capacity of civil registration and vital statistics systems in Africa to produce continuous and reliable indicators for measuring progress on the development agenda

Background:

Available information in the Africa and Asia and the Pacific regions on levels and trends in development indicators, such as births, deaths and causes of death, are highly erratic and unreliable as a basis for making informed policy interventions and actions. The registration of people and of their vital events is crucial for governance, elections, distribution of services (e.g., health and education) and resources (e.g., land and income) and the establishment of the human rights of all individuals and of their role in development. Unlike censuses and surveys, civil registration provides both individual and aggregate information. When complete, it can provide inter-census estimates of populations and their distribution in the countries for planning and policy development. It is also the conventional information source used for monitoring internationally agreed development indicators, including the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. However, the civil registration and vital statistics systems in the ECA and ESCAP regions are weak. In the great majority of the countries in those regions, such systems suffer from the problems of weak infrastructure, weak organization and management of the registration process, and capacity constraints. They also lack political support and are weakened by outdated laws and legislation, and the low levels of population literacy and awareness of their importance for human rights and development. Low coverage is also due to the concentration of the civil registration and vital statistics in urban centres, leaving out rural areas where the great majority of people live. In addition, most of the people living in slums in urban areas are not covered by the systems. The project aims to contribute towards bridging these gaps by supporting the capacity of Member States in African, Asian and Pacific countries to develop efficient and effective civil registration and vital statistics systems.
The project will be executed by the Statistics Divisions of ECA and ESCAP, with ECA as the lead agency responsible for managing the project and assistance from the respective divisions within ECA responsible for social development. One of the motivations for the project was the request from the Conference of African Ministers responsible for civil registration, which was organized jointly by ECA, the African Development Bank and the African Union Commission, with further technical assistance from the United Nations Statistics Division, the United Nations Children’s Fund, the United Nations Population Fund and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. These partners will therefore be involved in the implementation of the project.

Objective:

To strengthen the Civil Registration and Vital Statistics systems for improved monitoring of the internationally agreed development goals including the MDGs, as well as lay a solid foundation to facilitate monitoring of implementation of the United Nations development agenda beyond 2015

Expected accomplishments:

  • Developed institutional structures for regional coordination and harmonization of strategies, guidelines and efforts for promoting CRVS systems in selected countries
  • Built operational and management capacity of CRVS systems in  selected countries in Africa and Asia and Pacific region to continuously record and document vital event

Implementation status:

In progress.