Niamey (Niger) — As part of the framework of the implementation of the United Nations Legal Identity Agenda (UNLIA / IJNU), an exploratory mission was carried out in Niger, from March 9 to 13, 2020.
This mission, led by a team of experts from the African Centre for Statistics and the ECA Sub-Regional Office for West Africa, included meetings with the Government of Niger, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and other agencies of the United Nations System and development partners.
Its objectives were to develop a common understanding of the status and possible integration of civil registration systems, management of identification of persons and vital statistics, identification of opportunities, obstacles and entry points for the implementation of the UNLIA program, and agreement on the way forward through a national “road map”.
Through exchanges with Niger, coordinated by the National Focal Point, in this case the Directorate General of Civil Registration, it was clear that, with a rate of birth registration within the legal time limit estimated at 52%, the country is still well behind the 2030 target of universal birth registration, and that other civil status events (deaths, marriages and divorces) have an even lower coverage.
Poor interoperability of civil status, health, vital and identity statistics was also noted. The preliminary findings of the mission also highlighted a significant fragmentation of civil registration and identity systems, with more than fifteen files of natural persons that were not linked, as well as poor digitization and modernization.
During the national consultation meeting, which closed the mission, the Director of the ECA Sub-Regional Office for West Africa, Ms. Ngone Diop, on behalf of the Resident Coordinator of the United Nations System, announced courses of action to engage Niger in the integration of civil status and identity systems. These include, among other things, strengthening the capacities of civil registration and identification centres at the central and decentralized levels, improving the interoperability and sharing of data between civil registration systems and vital statistics, the management of identity, security and respect for privacy, and the development of a communication strategy with a view to raising awareness of the importance of reporting civil status and obtaining a related certificate.
Within three months, the mission is expected to share a preliminary evaluation report, including a roadmap for better integration of civil status systems, vital statistics and identity. This report will be subject to national validation that will engage all stakeholders.
The United Nations Group of Experts on Legal Identity is composed of 17 Agencies that play an active role in the field of legal identity, civil status and vital statistics and is co-directed by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the UNDP and UNICEF, it should be noted.
It was established as part of the strategic outcomes for the United Nations Sustainable Development Group on the implementation of the SDGs.
In Niger, the UNLIA/IJNU mission benefited from the support and active involvement of the Resident Coordination Office, UNICEF, UNDP, IOM, UNFPA, WFP, UN Women, UNHCR and UNOPS. Development partners including the AfDB, French Cooperation and the French Development Agency were also involved in the mission.