Ethiopia: Ensuring Effective Vital Events Registration –


Vital events (or civil) registration has important uses for individuals, societies and the government. For individuals, copies of such records can be used as legal documents for evidence. Information compiled from records of this nature are needed for administrative applications such as public health programmes and the electoral roll.

Ethiopia has to benefit from the opportunity of civil registration, because such records assist in improving access to government services and promoting equitable development across the the country as well. But for various reasons, such registration has not been put into action. Of course, there has been uncoordinated and unorganised administrative attempts on the issuance of marriage, birth, and death certificates by municipalities. Also such uncoordinated efforts have prevailed due to lack of adequate human and financial resources .

Indeed, the establishment, operation and maintenance of a national civil registration and vital statistics system is a core governmental responsibility, Vital Events Registration Agency has been established by the House of Federation under the Regulation number 278/2013, Article 8.

Vital statistics are data on principal events in the life of an individual. As such they are very important. Such information are often gathered at the time of an event such as birth, marriage, the dissolution of a marriage, and death. Vital statistics are commonly compiled from records of vital events registered through offices that are organized as part of a vital registration system.

The hallmark of civil registration and vital statistics is the ability to log vital events on a universal, continuous, permanent and compulsory basis at the lowest administrative levels.

This makes it a source of vital statistics that cannot be matched by other data gathering methods such as censuses and demographic household surveys.

Civil registration and vital statistics systems are central to any country’s development process. The legal identity documents and records derived from the system are useful to both individuals and governments. The system is also the most reliable and continuous source of vital statistics.

FDRE President Dr. Mulatu Teshome said, the Government of Ethiopia has given great emphasis to vital events registration across the nation by putting the appropriate policies in place, establishing a system up to the lowest administrative level and deploying massive resources in this endeavour. The government has showed great commitment in allocating more than one hundred million birr resources to establish the institution structure..

“With collaboration and commitment of all stakeholders, we will succeed in the operationalization of the system, just like we have succeed in other development sectors efforts. The community has the primary role to play in meeting the desired goals,” he noted.

Frankly speaking, the nation has shown strong ownership and giving leadership that could assist the full implementations of the subject. In this regard, respective states also had made remarkable preparations. Therefore, kebele general managers have a responsibility to serve as civil status registrars. Nationally, 94 per cent of the generals managers have taken training on the subject. All required registry and certificates are printed and dispatched to all 18,416 kebeles of the nation. The prescribed time of registration for birth is within 90 days while for marriage, divorce and death 30 days.

So, creating public demand for civil registration is challenging. Legal provisions alone will not guarantee public participation. The readiness of citizens to participate in registration is largely determined by societal consensus around the value of the system and trust that it will be used to their benefit. The civil registration and vital statistics system must be recognized by the public as a task for their own good if it is to be successful. Maintaining confidentiality is also one of the important aspects of gaining public trust.

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