Solomon Islands Civil Registration System Goes Digital
HONIARA, December 20, 2013 - The establishment of the new Civil Registration database software in Solomon Islands last week guarantees improved registration of all children across the country. This was finalized with a two-day training for staff of the Ministry of Home Affairs and Key Stakeholders on how to operate and manage the new database and its relevance to the work of other key Government agencies in the country.
The Civil Registrar of Births and Deaths, Mr Musu Kevu, said that this is a milestone in the protection, survival and development for all children in Solomon Islands. He added that “All Solomon Islanders will now be better able to formally register themselves as legal citizens, easily trace their identities, access relevant services and for the government the database system will greatly enhance the development of their social and economic policies and decision making.”
“The previous system greatly affects organizational performance, effectiveness, and suffers from inadequate security, limited data sharing and lack of data integrity, affecting data collection, analysis and generation of reports from aggregated data” explained Mr Kevu.
He also pointed out that the old system did not keep any auditable electronic record of what was issued to whom, by whom and when: the new Civil Registration and Vital Statistics database management system is critical in filling all of these gaps.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Pacific Representative, Dr Karen Allen said that “UNICEF is proud to join hands with the Solomon Islands Government in such an important programme. We are grateful for the support received from UNICEF New Zealand.”
“Registering a child’s birth in Pacific Countries is doubly important because of natural population mobility. A registered child is an official citizen with rights to public services such as education, health care and legal and social services but also to casting a vote and to a passport”, she explained.
Dr Allen highlighted that the under- five coverage of Birth Registration in Solomon Islands is currently unknown, however it is estimated to be among the lowest in the Pacific, perhaps 20% according to the 2008 UNICEF Child Protection Baseline Research for Solomon Islands.
The Right of every child to be registered at birth, to have a name and a nationality is guaranteed under the Article 7 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which was ratified by the Solomon Islands Government in 1995, and under the Laws and Policies of the Solomon Islands Government.
“It is also very encouraging to see that the Solomon Islands Government is investing efforts in strengthening the Civil Registration and Vitals Statistics System in the country through the approval and allocation of funding in its 2014 recurrent budget for Civil Registration division and its programs.” Dr Allen happily noted. “We hope that in the near future the Government will be able to move to reporting via mobile phones, especially in areas faraway from main registration sites. “
The transitional trial period into the use of the new civil registration database system commenced last week, and will continue until the end of January 2014, when a formal date for the official launch will be announced.
The establishment of the new civil registration and vital statistics database software comes in time as UNICEF releases the new birth global registration report on its 67th Birthday. The report, Every Child’s Birth Right: Inequities and trends in birth registration showed that births of nearly 230 million children under-five have never been registered, approximately 1 in 3 of all children under-five around the world.
The upgrade from paper based system to a more convenient, effective and efficient database civil registration system was achieved through the partnership of the UNICEF and the Civil Registration Department of the Ministry of Home Affairs with financial support from the UNICEF New Zealand National Committee and European Union (EU).
Mr Kevu thanked UNICEF for the financial and on-going technical advice and support rendered towards the project, which included the purchase and installation of new IT equipment (3 workstations, 2 laptops and 2 printers) within the civil registration division for the implementation of the database project.
He also acknowledges the technical support from Brisbane Accord Group Partners, Secretariat of the Pacific Community, World Health Organisation, Australia Bureau of Statistics and Queensland University.