Civil registration in Cameroon is being modernised
Title: Support Programme for the Modernisation of Civil Registration
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Lead executing agency: Ministère de la Décentralisation et du Développement Local (MINDDEVEL)
Overall term: 2018 to 2021
Since 2009, the African Union’s African Programme on Accelerated Improvement of Civil Registration (APAI-CRVS) has been making civil registration as a government responsibility the focus of state action. For the Government of Cameroon, the lack of reliable population data impedes demographic projections and development planning and inhibits inclusive growth. Furthermore, it considers the issue to be of increasing importance due to the security situation and the challenges of displacement.
The Ministry of Decentralisation and Local Development (MINDDEVEL) is responsible for civil registration at the central level. The National Civil Status Registration Office (BUNEC), which was established in 2015 and is subordinate to MINDDEVEL, is implementing the national reform. The municipalities are responsible for the implementation of the civil registration system in the regions. Previously, registers and documents have been kept or given out manually. This poses huge challenges, including in terms of archiving, personnel, the reliability of existing documents and cooperation between various actors. The statistical function of the civil registration system is also not yet being fulfilled. In addition, one of the biggest challenges is low public demand.
The Ministry of Decentralisation, the National Civil Status Registration Office and the partner municipalities are in a position to establish an inclusive and accountable system for civil registration and population statistics.
On the one hand, the project supports institutional actors in building capacity for civil registration. On the other hand, the aim is, above all, to encourage disadvantaged groups to get themselves registered by raising awareness and improving the system.
The supply side is supported by providing strategic advice and increasing the ability of key actors to take action in this respect. This support includes developing viable ICT solutions (information and communication technology). On the demand side, particular attention is paid to providing equal access to civil registration services for all population groups. The project contributes to reducing poverty, as documentary proof of a legal identity gives poor sections of the population in particular access to basic government services. For example, the birth certificate provides proof of legal identity and is a prerequisite for legal capacity, social participation and access to public services.
Not having a birth certificate leaves some population groups further marginalised. Women and girls are particularly affected by this issue as, if births and marriages are not registered, they hardly have any opportunities to assert their rights and are more vulnerable to abuse.
Gender justice is ensured by paying special attention to women and girls in terms of access to services. Here, raising awareness of the rights associated with civil registration, in particular in marriage and the family, plays an essential role.
The project comprises three areas of action:
- Supporting the responsible authorities (BUNEC) at the central level in implementing reform and building capacity
- Implementing the reforms at regional and municipal level
- Raising public awareness and strengthening the civil society dialogue
The project is active in three regions: the North, South-West and Coastal regions.