16 March 2015: My 16 minute video charting the reform of civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) in Nigeria is now on UNICEF Nigeria’s YouTube channel.
UNICEF’s Generation 2030/Africa report predicts that Nigeria will be responsible for 10% of the world’s births by 2050. It is therefore vital that the country has a functioning civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) system to both count and account to its growing population.
Data from birth registration and other aspects of the CRVS function such as death registration are critical in government planning and accountability to populations.
The country has made major and steady progress in laying the foundations for a transformative CRVS system through partnerships and collaboration between different federal government entities and other institutions.
The video highlights the work of an EU-UNICEF programme which, has helped to facilitate dialogue and progress in government collaboration with partners including the National Population Commission of Nigeria (NPopC), Nigeria Immigration (pictured) the National Agency for Prohibition of Traffic in Persons and Other Related Matters (NAPTIP), the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), and the Nigeria Immigration and the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON).
Pictured left to right are: Anthonia Osaka Deputy Director Vital Registration Department NPopC; Aboudin Ojo Gender Focal Person Nigeria Immigration; Zainab Mahmoud, Deputy Director Vital Registration Department NPopC; Muhammad Babandede Comptroller-General, Nigeria Immigration; Sharon Oladiji, Child Protection Officer, UNICEF Nigeria; Elizabeth Willmott-Harrop; Garba Musa Rano Deputy Director Vital Registration Department NPopC; Hapsafu Husaini Chief Vital Registration Officer NpopC; Mrs Sanyelo Assistant Controller Migration, Nigeria Immigration.
A memorandum of understanding (MoU) is currently being drafted which will see NPopC and the National ID Management Commission formally work together on harmonizing identity and civil registration through a centralized electronic population database.
As a result of the EU-UNICEF partnership, which has expanded the availability of free birth certificates, increased the use of innovative mobile and online technology for birth registration and expanded partnerships, especially with the health sector, registrations have increased significantly. 6,435,104 under-fives were registered by NPoPC during 2013 and 2014 – an increase of over 2,000,000 from the number of registrations recorded in 2011 and 2012. The under one age group was specifically targeted during the last two years. By working with the health sector to increase birth registration rates in hospitals, and during the biannual Maternal and Newborn Child Health Week (MNCHW), 3,947,047 under-1s were registered during 2013-2014.
“How many of you have an NPopC birth certificate?” Sharon Oladiji, Child Protection Officer, UNICEF Nigeria, asks a group of assembled school children.
Prior to free NPopC birth certificates being available, birth certificates could be issued by local councils for which a charge would be made. However the loss of revenue is compensated for by the provision of data. Matthew Temidayo Sunday, Head Vital Registration NPopC, Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Nigeria, comments:
“Local government councils issue birth certificates to generate revenue and they do not generate any demographic data out of it. NPopC issues birth certificates free of charge and we generate demographic data. Initially the area councils saw us as a threat because they are losing their revenue. But over time the Local government council have come to realise that the data we generate can be used for planning and more cost effective compared to the revenue they are losing.”
While such progress and collaboration takes time, Nigeria’s investment in CRVS will reap many dividends including being prepared for its population boom. And with Nigeria recently leapfrogging South Africa to become Africa’s largest economy, a well-functioning CRVS system is also important in laying the foundation for continued economic prosperity through the establishment of legal identities for work in the formal economy, and in providing data for planning infrastructure, services and employment opportunities.
Read more about UNICEF’s work on birth registration in Nigeria.
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.