On 8th of March 2021, SPC concluded its responsibilities as Chair of the Global Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) Group for 2020-2021. The term was marked by the impact of COVID-19, which created unique challenges globally. Nevertheless, thanks to the strong partnerships and collaborative efforts of the group, significant progress in the CRVS area was made.
The outgoing Chair, SPC’s CRVS Adviser in the Statistics for Development Division, Ms Gloria Mathenge, handed over Mr. Niall McCann, Policy Advisor/Project Manager, Legal Identity United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) who will lead the Group over the next year.
With the Covid-19 pandemic striking in the early months of 2020, the last year was particularly special for CRVS; with both positive and negative impacts on national, regional and global efforts towards progress.
On the one hand, the pandemic highlighted the importance of civil registration systems (to people and their families, governments and to the global development community), as a critical source of data on mortality, needed to understand and manage the crisis. This message was underlined in national and international platforms as well as leading academic and policy journals, newspapers and other media articles.
On the other hand, the pandemic caused major disruption to the functioning and progress of CRVS systems in many countries around the world. Of note are the measures taken by many governments to close civil registration offices (especially at the onset of the pandemic), which created a gap or delay in the registration of key vital events. While many countries are working hard to close these gaps in registration, the impact of the pandemic in constraining progress in the development of CRVS systems cannot be overlooked.
In view of the extreme context of the pandemic, SPC in collaboration with the United Nations Statistics Division (secretariat of the global group) and with partners of the global group focussed on supporting national and global efforts towards minimising the impact of the Pandemic on registration systems. Highlights of the year included:
1. Development of national guidelines on the maintenance of CRVS systems during times of the pandemic. These guidelines provided recommendations for civil registration authorities to ensure operational continuity during COVID-19 and allow for the continued production of comprehensive vital statistics
2. Hosting of a series of webinars to disseminate the above-mentioned guidelines as well as to engage with countries in understanding the impact of CoVID-19 on CRVS systems and to recommend the UN’s holistic approach to legal identity. These webinars were held in the Pacific, Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean regions. The proceedings and materials from these webinars are available here.
3. Compilation of a report on the impact of COVID-19 on CRVS systems drawing on country experiences shared during the above-mentioned webinar series as well as the findings of a survey administered by the United Nations legal identity agenda task force (UNLIATF) on the same topic
4. Organisation of a CRVS session at the upcoming 63rd session of the International Statistics Institute (ISI) of the World Statistics Congress. This session will focus on promoting the sharing of knowledge on the impact of COVID-19 on CRVS systems and recommended national efforts to handle the Pandemic
Incoming Chair McCann will be facing a challenging year ahead as the pandemic continues to pose challenges to countries around the world. But under his leadership the CRVS group will continue to support national efforts towards a stronger and more robust CRVS.