1 March 2015: My 12 minute video charting the reform of civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) in Mozambique is now on UNICEF Mozambique’s YouTube channel.
The video highlights the work of an EU-UNICEF programme which, among other things, increased birth registration rates in rural communities through a biannual Child Health Week (CHW). Birth certificates are issued free of charge at the same time as parents attend with their children to receive free healthcare such as immunizations (below).
In the Nacala Porto district, an administrative post with a birth registration facility could have an average radius of 150km, making the lengthy journey and cost involved prohibitive for most parents.
The ease of access to a CHW post, which are establishedin local hospitals, means thousands of births are registered which otherwise would have been missed.
Some mothers (left) had arrived at 3am to ensure they were early in the queue for birth registration. A child’s place in the queue is marked by a line of flip-flops and health cards (below). One mother, Maria, was there with her eight month old son and commented:
“We are suffering in the sun because we want a birth certificate so our children can go to school”.
Mozambique has been strategic and systematic in its reform of its CRVS system, yielding a reputation as a leading African country in terms of emerging best practise.
The country was one of the first to undertake a comprehensive assessment for CRVS, which revealed the essential adoption of new technologies, training technicians in the use of electronic information systems, and the adaptation and dissemination of legislation.
An EU-UNICEF partnership which ran for two years to the end of 2014, has been key in establishing the infrastructure for this reform process. This uses Rapid SMS technology first developed by UNICEF Uganda.
Mozambique is now one of just four developing countries to have produced a costed five year operational plan for CRVS which will see the digitization of all CRVS functions in Mozambique by the year 2020.
The EU-UNICEF investment has therefore been a crucial investment in laying the foundations for an electronic system. This is now being piloted in two conservatories – Maputo and Ribáuè – with the call centre in Maputo due to host the country’s central database.
Data from civil registration events including birth registration are used to produce vital statistics which allow a government to account to and plan for its population. The Mozambique government is demonstrating its commitment to CRVS reform through creating a high level inter-ministerial group on CRVS (known in Mozambique as GITEV). The country is one of only a few developing countries to have such a body in place.
Watch my videos about CRVS in Nigeria and Uganda on my YouTube channel.
Photos © E Willmott-Harrop for the EU-UNICEF Breaking with Broken Systems Programme 2014
Breaking with Broken Systems is a European Union (EU) and UNICEF partnership providing assistance to eight targeted countries in Africa and Asia, to reform their civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) systems. The programme aimed to increase birth registration for children under 5, and has a specific equity focus to reduce disparity rates between urban and rural birth registration.
The two year programme, 2013-2014, ran in Burkina Faso, Mozambique, Nigeria, Uganda, Myanmar, and in Pacific Island Countries Kiribati, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu. The initiative has strengthened in-country CRVS systems, as well as enhancing learning, and models for capacity building in other countries in these regions and beyond.
The project has a life beyond the end of 2014 as it honours wider Government-led continental partnerships on CRVS, in collaboration with on-going international and regional initiatives. As such, all strategic interventions contribute to Government plans and are managed within the context of existing coordination and sustainability mechanisms in targeted countries.
The programme comes at a time when the significance of CRVS as a foundational tool to facilitate good governance, economic prosperity and the fulfilment of human rights, is being recognized both regionally and internationally.