The National Registration & Identification System (NRIS) For MALAWI

The Government of Malawi resolved to introduce the National Registration and Identification System (NRIS) to address problems associated with lack of universal and compulsory registration. NRIS will be achieved through:

Registration: The registration of births, adults, marriages, resident foreigners and deaths. This has been devolved to all the district councils in the country. The District Registration Offices in the office of the District Commissioner perform this function through the decentralized structures at district level.

Image Capturing (IC): This function will involve capturing of photographs of individuals above 16 years of age to be one of the components for positive identification.

Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS): Taking of fingerprints using Biometric Technology will be the main feature in order to positively identifying an individual.

National Database Program: This involves the assigning of unique number to an individual that will lead to the production of identity cards and certificates for all eligible persons. For economic and security reasons, production has been centralized so far. The Database will be interfaced with other relevant systems to enhance data sharing.

Capacity Building: The successful implementation of NRIS requires a well-structured organization, adequately trained staff with sufficient and relevant skills. Registration offices should be well equipped and mobility enhanced at all levels for effective implementation of the system. As such, NRB embarks on a number of capacity building initiatives in order to promote and develop responsive, transparent and accountable leadership and management practices.

Public Awareness and Civic Education Program: The effective NRIS implementation requires intensive public awareness and civic education on population, birth, marriage and death registration.

 OBJECTIVES OF THE NRIS

  • To facilitate continuous capture of demographic data through compulsory birth and death registration;
  • To improve socio-economic planning by providing up-to-date population information from the “Population Register”.
  • To improve internal security by facilitating positive identification of Malawians, Residents and Non-Residents;
  • To enable Government and all stakeholders effectively process emigration and immigration data;
  • To improve voters registration and identification process in Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Government Elections;

NRIS BENEFITS

The National Registration and Identification System brings benefits to many including government departments, the private sector, service providers and the general public.

Civil Registration and Vital Statistics

  • Civil registration is the most important act of recording and documenting of vital events in person’s life (including birth, marriage, divorce, adoption and death) as per the laws of the country and is therefore a fundamental function of the government.
  • Civil registration contributes to public administration and governance by providing individuals with legal identity and civil status.
  • Well-functioning CRVS enhances the credibility of national and local administrators and their capacity to deliver services by helping them to identify what services are needed and by whom.
  • As CRVS includes many stakeholders from a wide variety of background, coordination and communication of multiple agencies is the key to system’s performance.

Civil Registration System and Social Services

Benefits and facilities provided by the government to improve the life and living conditions of “Children, disabled, the elderly, and the poor in the national community”;

It is the legal identity that enables access to essential services.

Education - a prerequisite of sustainable socio-economic development of any country.

  • CRS will provide accurate data on school-going age groups (5-17 years) by area, district and national level – thereby facilitating effective planning for education in the country.
  • Stakeholders will be able to realistically focus on the financial, human and physical infrastructure requirements based on up-to-date data available.

Health - a prerequisite enhancing the well being of general public by reducing the incidence of illness and occurrence of death in the population.

  • CRS will provide accurate data for launching the vaccination programme and for estimating the requirement of vaccine and the corresponding workload by area, TA, district and national level – thereby facilitating evidence based health planning.
  • Provide data for undertaking follow-up cohort studies i.e. Under- weight children.
  • Identifying areas with lower percentage of women reporting for 1st trimester antenatal check-up.

Deceased Estate Management

  • There has been cases where deceased estate i.e. death gratuity, inheritance of property, insurance claims etc. has been paid to wrong people due lack of proper system for issue of death certificate and positive identification of the individuals. 
  • Similarly, it has not been easy to enforce the Inheritance Act, as there is no identification system to relate objectively relationship between the deceased and would be beneficiaries.

Civil Registration System and Civil & Human Rights

  • Birth registration - a fundamental human right and an essential means of protecting a child’s right to a name and identity.
  • The Convention of the Rights of the Child and the African Charter on the Right and Welfare of Child recognize the right of every child to be registered after birth.
  • The right to be registered is key to the protection right. Without legal registration, other rights are difficult to claim.
  • Birth registration establishes formal proof of a child’s name, existence and age. This proof can help to protect the child against child marriage, under-age recruitment into armed forces, and against child labour.
  • By having the birth certificate (which is the child’s first identity), it is easier to fight abuse and child trafficking.
  • Proof of age can protect adolescent from being prosecuted and sentenced as adult.
  • A birth certificate, as a proof of birth, can assist in tracing support unaccompanied and separated children. 
  • Not being counted leaves a child vulnerable to exploitation and abuse - crucial for children from marginalised groups. 

NRIS and Positive Identification

Eradication of fraud in Lending and Banking Institutions

  • The cases of forgery, fraud and impersonation will be eradicated completely with positive identification of the people by an identify card which is a prima facie of particulars of the individual including biographical and biometric details. 

Cross-border Security

  • Porous borders are making it difficult to identify the Malawian citizens from those people from neighbouring countries. This is on account of absence of positive identification along the international border resulting in compromising the security. The identification system will put a check on cross – border crimes such as drug trafficking, car thefts etc.

Illegal Immigration

  • Foreigners from neighbouring and other countries are able to sneak through the porous international border. In the absence of identification system, it is almost impossible to segregate them from the citizens, resulting in over stay of these immigrants apart from indulging in illegal activities such as money laundering, car-jacking, armed robbery, drug trafficking and other shady deals.

Relief Management

  • Targeted relief management becomes easy when there is a system for positive identification of the people. Programmes such as targeted input in agriculture and relief distribution during natural calamities i.e. earth quake, floods and other emergencies would be more effective with positive identification of the beneficiaries.

Registration and Issuance of Birth & Death Certificates

NRB commenced the issuance the universal and compulsory registration and issuance of birth and death certificates following the Gazette Notice No. 18 of 2015 on the commencement of the National Registration Act on 1st August, 2015. 

The registration started with all births occurring in health facilities of three pilot districts of Chitipa, Ntcheu and Blantyre including Bwaila Hospital in Lilongwe where births are being registered before the mother is discharged, for processing and issuance of Birth Certificates. However, the bureau is still processing all requests for Birth Certificate from all the 28 districts through the District Registration Offices located at each District Council in the country.

In addition, all requests for issue of death certificates are being received in all District Registration Offices for processing.

For registration to take place, informants to any birth or death will have to fill the Birth Report Form (NR8) and the Death Report Form (NR10) in order to process the certificates respectively.  Informants can be mother, father, any close relative present at the time of birth or death in the absence of parents. The forms are available at District Registration Offices in all the District Councils and health facilities of three selected districts of Chitipa, Ntcheu and Blantyre.  Registration and issuance of these certificates is free of charge.

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