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African Civil Registration and Vital Statistics Systems

Vital statistics generated from civil registration systems is the conventional data source in producing timely, continuous and comprehensive population dynamics information. The majority of African countries do not have adequate civil registration and vital statistics systems, hence unable to produce current and continuous fertility and mortality statistics, including causes of death statistics at national and sub-national levels. Lack of adequate vital statistics system is affecting all sectors of statistics as most statistical measures and indicators require continuously updated and reliable population estimates and projections, including MDG measurement and monitoring undertakings.

Considering the values and benefits of civil registration records in legal and administrative services, promoting and safeguarding human rights provisions and production of continuous vital statistics, African Ministers responsible for Civil Registration that was held in August 2010 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia endorsed landmark resolutions that urged all member States to take appropriate political and policy measures in reforming and improving CRVS systems in their respective countries.

The 6th African Symposium on Statistical Development (ASSD) held in October 2010 in Cairo, Egypt has also shifted its theme for the next five symposia to strengthening national civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) systems. Therefore, short to medium-term key activities of ECA in this component area will base on the implementation of the resolutions of the first and upcoming ministerial conferences and ASSD meetings. Accordingly, the major activities include:

  •   Implementation of the medium-term CRVS plan;
  •   Implementation of the resolutions of the first Ministerial Conference;
  •   Supporting the organization of the 2nd Ministerial Conference to be held in South Africa in 2012;
  •   Support the organization of future ASSD meetings that focus on CRVS;
  •   Development of regional conceptual and operational guidelines, manuals and vital statistics data collection, analysis, reporting and monitoring tools;
  •   Organizing training workshops, expert meetings and consultation fora on various topics and issues of improving  CRVS systems in the region;
  •   Providing technical support to countries, including CRVS data management and customized software development;
  •   Collection, compilation and publication of vital statistics in regional statistical publications;
  •   Development of appropriate CRVS curricula  for in-service trainings and academic training institutions;
  •   Mainstreaming CRVS into National Strategies for the Development of Statistics (NSDS) and other regional statistical policy frameworks;
  •   Knowledge building in the application of vital statistics data generated from civil registration systems in the preparation of national and regional population size estimates and projections;
  •   Coordinate resource mobilization; and
  •   Engage with partners on strategic and policy issues.

Expert Group Meeting on the Post-Ministerial Conference Activities on Improving Civil
Registration and Vital Statistics Systems in Africa

17-21 January 2011; Addis Ababa

CRVSAn Expert Group Meeting on the Post-Ministerial Conference Activities on Improving Civil Registration and Vital Statistics Systems in Africa was held in Addis Ababa during 17-21 January 2011. The meeting was attended by 54 invited experts from 21 countries, representing national statistical and civil registration offices, statistical training centres and representatives of young statisticians. International organizations were also represented, and the organizing partners sent their own experts to coordinate and facilitate the meeting, and contribute to the discussions. The experts have concluded their meeting requesting premier regional organizations and other development partners to support the implementation of the Regional Medium-term CRVS Plan and the Call to Action document based on the declaration made by the Ministers responsible for Civil Registration during the historic conference held in August 2010. During the five day meeting the experts reviewed and finalized the Regional Medium-term CRVS Plan whose draft the ministers endorsed last August 2010.

Mr. Dimitri Sanga, Director of the African Centre for Statistics called upon the experts to make sure that those directives given by their ministers in finalizing the Regional Medium-term CRVS Plan are properly reflected. He also requested the experts to review and finalize the proposed Call to Action document that translated the ministerial statement into actionable activities and tasks.

Mr. Beejaye Kokil, Manager, Economic and Social Statistics Division at the African Development Bank stressed the necessity of strengthening the information base for monitoring MDGs through the availability of direct indicators that need to be generated through the CRVS systems. He also reiterated the uniqueness of CRVS in providing continuous and sustainable statistical information between two population censuses. He expressed the commitment of AfDB in supporting African countries in their effort of reforming and improving CRVS systems.

Mr Yeo Dossina, Head of the Statistics Unit of the African Union Commission, noted that reform of CRVS is at the heart of the African integration agenda as it serves as the primary information source in implementing SHaSA and the African Charter for Statistics.

Ms Akila Belembaogo, Head of the UNICEF Liaison Office, Representative to the AU and ECA recalls the role of CRVS in promoting and safeguarding the rights and privileges of children. She informed the experts about the activities of UNICEF in promoting birth registration in the region and requested participants to refer to best practices.

Mr. Kalasa Representative of UNFPA Ethiopia Country Office reminded the efforts of UNFPA in improving coverage and completeness of CRVS to serve as primary source for population and health data requirements in particular on women and children as well as marginalized population groups. He also expressed UNFPA’s readiness in supporting countries through the current regional initiative.

Mr. Pali Lehohla representing HMN Board expressed the challenges most African countries are facing in addressing health and demographic data needs, specifically statistics on causes of death.

The expert meeting concluded by endorsing a set of recommendations on various initiatives that are critical in speeding-up the implementation of the resolution of the first ministerial declaration.


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