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Why do CRVS systems underperform?

Policy and institutional challenges

Both demand and supply-side challenges are affected by high-level policy and institutional considerations. For example:

  • Weak or absent high-level political commitment can result in failure to prioritise CRVS, resulting in apathy and disinterest at all levels of government and in civil society.
  • Decision-makers may be unaware of the benefits of CRVS for governance, monitoring and accountability.
  • CRVS systems may not be included in national administrative systems reform and innovation – eg e‑governance strategies, computerisation and the use of IT across the stages of the CRVS process.
  • Paper-based systems for management of registration records may be poorly managed.
  • IT systems may be out of date, poorly managed and maintained, and not well distributed across the country.
  • There may be a failure to reinforce the links between civil registration and vital statistics, including the establishment of data sharing, interoperability and systems for quality assurance of vital statistics. 
  • There may be a lack of investment in CRVS systems and little effort to build skills and capacities of registration officials and of staff responsible for vital statistics.
  • There may be poor coordination among responsible agencies, such as civil registration, health, justice, interior, statistics and the national identification agency.
  • Legal regulatory and administrative systems may be out of date or unresponsive to contemporary requirements.
  • CRVS practitioners may be unaware of the details of the law and associated regulations, giving rise to different interpretations of how the legal provisions should be implemented.
  • International definitions of key CRVS information items and statistical variables may not be systematically applied, resulting in variability, lack of comparability and lack of reliability in the resulting vital statistics. 
  • Skills necessary in performing key duties may be lacking (eg medical certification of cause of death. 
  • Access by legitimate users to information stored in the civil register database may be limited. 
  • CRVS databases that are not linked and interoperable with other agencies’ databases can undermine the full potential of having an up-to-date information system. 
  • There may be weak collaboration among development partners with mandates related to civil registration and to statistics, resulting in ad hoc projects that contribute to the fragmentation of CRVS. 


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