For inclusive development and to protect and save lives, civil and vital events must be continuously and accurately recorded.
Currently more than one billion people worldwide cannot prove their legal identity. One third of births continue to go unregistered and almost half of deaths are not recorded. This lack of registration leads to a lack of real-time, accurate data, impeding access to basic services for many individuals, and undermining regional, national and international development strategies.
Weak CRVS systems are more prevalent in low and middle-income countries. 73 countries worldwide produce no death data at all. Without making a concerted effort to understand the obstacles faced in these countries, development efforts and humanitarian work will continue to be hampered by low-quality and/or outdated data.
Interest has therefore been growing rapidly in this area. Since 2012, momentum has been building and progress has been made in countries such as Ghana, United Republic of Tanzania and Kenya where, although in the early stages, steps are being made to build data capacity.
Importantly, the Sustainable Global Development Goals acknowledge the crucial role CRVS systems play in meeting the global development agenda. This has led to a more recent shift in global attention and a more deliberate and focused effort to strengthen CRVS systems and ensure these are effectively linked with health and identity management systems.
The Global Strategy for Women’s Children’s and Adolescent’s Health 2016-2030 also highlights the need for effective CRVS systems; identifying them as a preferred data source for measuring and monitoring progress toward improving women’s and children’s health.
Released in 2014, the Global CRVS Scaling-Up Investment Plan, funded by the Government of Canada and produced by the World Bank with the World Health Organization (WHO), outlined a central goal that there be universal civil registration of births, deaths, and other vital events, including reporting causes of death, and access to legal proof of registration for all individuals by 2030. The investment plan supports and enables the development of a nuanced global strategy. This was further illustrated by the release in 2017 of a CRVS systems eLearning course, produced by the World Bank, and supported by the Global CRVS Group. This course provides practical tools and approaches to achieving 21st century state-of-the-art CRVS systems that are linked to identity management systems and tailored to local contexts.
The increased drive towards effective CRVS implementation has lead to the foundation of new partnerships and new architecture designed to help respond to demand from countries for CRVS systems strengthening. Among these newer players at the global level include:
- The Centre of Excellence for CRVS systems – Housed at Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC), the Centre of Excellence is a global resource hub that actively supports national efforts to develop, strengthen, and scale-up CRVS systems. Its role is to facilitate access to technical assistance, global standards and tools, evidence, and good practice.
- Global Financing Facility – Working in more than 25 countries, and housed at the World Bank, the Facility was launched in July 2015 in support of the Every Woman Every Child multi-stakeholder partnership movement, and the Sustainable Development Goals.
- Bloomberg Philanthropies Data for Health Initiative – this is a four-year, $100m initiative aimed at improving health data, including improving CRVS systems, in select low and middle income countries in Southeast Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Latin America.
Architecture is also emerging at a regional level, where collaboration and innovation are critical. Programs currently exist to support CRVS systems strengthening in the Eastern Mediterranean, Latin America, Africa and Asia-Pacific.
The conference in February, Harnessing the Power: CRVS systems for 2030 global agendas, will provide an invaluable space for discussion and exchange of ideas and new strategies. Innovation is a crucial element in tackling the challenges faced by many countries, both in data collection, data storage and analysis, as well as in linking across different existing data systems.
There is momentum now and this conference will facilitate shared learning around how to create strong and connected CRVS systems in the future. Essentially, making everyone count, by counting everyone.
To find out more on the Current State of CRVS please read the full document here.