The Nigerian Civil Registration and Vital Statistics System: Contexts, Institutions, Operation
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Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) Systems are playing increasing roles in national and global data infrastructure, facilitating the achievement of key developmental goals. The performance of CRVS systems in many developing countries including Nigeria is sub optimal and information on their structure and operations scanty. This paper characterizes the statutory, institutional, and operational elements and social contexts of the Nigerian CRVS System. It includes a context analysis of the system and a review of improvement strategies and interventions. The paper shows that the Nigerian CRVS System is built on viable statutory and institutional platforms—the constitutional enshrinement of: universal, compulsory and continuous civil registration and, a central registration institution—the National Population Commission (NPC). NPC has registration hierarchy and infrastructure deployed at every level of political administration and mechanisms for efficient coordination of registration and production of vital statistics on live-births, deaths and stillbirths amongst other vital events. The major weaknesses of the system include inadequate financing and deployment of registration facilities, conflicting statutes and institutional arrangements for the registration of key events like death and stillbirths. Other weaknesses include intra-organizational conflicts in resource allocation and weak ICT infrastructure within the NPC. These are compounded by overarching contextual issues namely registration unfriendly sociocultural norms, weak national data infrastructure, systemic corruption, poverty and undeveloped civic culture. Domestic initiatives and interventions to improve the system have focused on birth registration, while multilateral interventions have only made a modest impact on the system. Thus, holistic in-country improvement initiatives supported with robust interventions are imperative to overcome weaknesses in the Nigerian CRVS system. However fundamental improvements in CRVS systems in developing countries like Nigeria may likely only follow sustainable solutions to overarching contextual issues especially poor infrastructure, weak institutions, poverty and systemic corruption.
KeywordsCivil registration Contexts Institutions CRVS improvement Nigeria
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