For the first time ever in the history of the country, Malawi commemorated the Africa Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) day at Champiti Primary School ground in the area of Traditional Authority Champiti in Ntcheu district on Saturday, 24th August, 2019.
The day which falls on every 10th August, was set aside by the African Union last year (2018) to increase public awareness of the importance of making everyone visible in Africa through a well-functioning civil registration and vital statistics system covering the entire population and all vital events occurring in a country.
Speaking during the commemorative events in Ntcheu, Minister of Homeland Security Mr. Nicholas Dausi, MP said his ministry will ensure that every birth and death occurring in health facilities is registered in order to improve CRVS in the country.
“…… my Ministry in collaboration with the Ministry of Health ensures registration of newly born babies in the right in a maternity ward as a key event of civil registration,” said the minister.
Mr. Dausi also called upon all parents, traditional leaders, government ministries, departments, agencies and all stakeholders to vigorously mainstream birth registration messages in all their undertakings to safeguard the identity of Malawian children.
In his address to the gathering, Director of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Dr. Andrew Auld urged all stakeholders in CRVS to exercise their rightful roles for the country to achieve universal and compulsory registration in the country.
He commended the government of Malawi for the steps taken so far to ensure that in the near future every birth and death in the country is being registered.
During the event, the Minister of Homeland Security, CDC and NRB distributed some of the Birth Certificates whose records were captured during the pilot community birth registration exercise in Ntcheu district which was supported by CDC. Distribution of these certificates is continuing.
The 2019 CRVS Day was commemorated under the theme: “Birth Certificate for All: Fundamental for Protecting Human Rights and Promoting Inclusion”.
Target 16.9 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) emphasize on the need for countries to “provide legal identity for all, including birth registration, by 2030”.
Applications are invited from suitably qualified Malawians aged 21 years and above without criminal record to fill the following temporary vacancies existing within the National Registration Bureau (NRB).
Location and Duration: This is a field work position that will involve working in various parts of the country including rural areas for a period of up to 9 months.
Job Purpose: This is a leadership and supervisory position. The successful candidate will be responsible for supervising and coordinating the performance of Registration officers.
Provide supervisory leadership in coordinating, assigning and reviewing the work of Registration Officers.
Establishing work schedules and procedures and co-coordinating activities with other work units or departments.
Resolving work-related problems and preparing and submitting progress and other reports.
Training and instructing Registration Officers in job activities, safety procedures and NRB regulating Acts, regulations, and policies.
Evaluating employees job performance and conformance to regulations, and recommending appropriate action.
Preparation and submission of reports.
Authenticating and ensuring that the person applying is indeed a Citizen of Malawi by conducting a short interview and reviewing all documentation presented before continuing to capture the personal information.
On Thursday, 27th October, 2016, Malawi President Prof. Arthur Peter Mutharika launched the much awaited National Identity Card at the Bingu International Convention Centre in Lilongwe.
The launch of the National ID is a clear manifestation of a country in transformation. From now onwards, Malawians of 16 years and above will be positively identified as citizens of the country.
Furthermore, the Government of Malawi will now implement development projects based on actual statistics and will save costs in a number of sectors providing free services such as health, agriculture and even in elections.
Despite the launch of the card, some sections of the population are still asking on the reasons behind the expiry date placed on the ID Card.
To begin with, Malawians must know that the National ID Card is an extremely secure card, durable and sophisticated with important features embedded and was designed based on the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), which sets the standards for passports and other official electronic documents.
Malawi President, His Excellency Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika has on Thursday, 27th October, 2016 launched the National Identity Card programme at the Bingu International Convention Centre in the capital Lilongwe.
Presiding over the launch ceremony, President Mutharika emphasized that the DPP government is ready to implement all its promises through the reforms programme.
“Those who question about the reforms my government is undertaking, show them the National ID,” challenged the president.
During the same event, the President Mutharika also launched the Compulsory Birth Certificate which NRB commenced issuance on 1st August, 2016.
The First Lady Madame Dr. Gertrude Mutharika presented a Birth Certificate to a lady for her newly born daughter as a symbol of launching the Birth Certificate component.
In her remarks at the same ceremony, Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security Grace Obama Chiumia, MP, said funds for the mass registration exercise have already been identified.
The National Registration Bureau (NRB) commenced the registration and issuance of Birth and Death Certificates in Malawi on 1st August, 2015 taking over the function from the Registrar General’s Office. This function has been under the Registrar General’s Office from 1904 to 31st July, 2015. Under the National Registration Act of 2010, registration for birth and death certificates is universal and compulsory.
The Government of Malawi through the Ministry of Home Affairs and Internal Security on Thursday, 10th March, 2016 signed a contract with a firm called SELP SAS, Route de Riberac, France for the supply, delivery, installation, commissioning and training of NRB staff on Proof of Concept for the National Registration and Identification System (NRIS) for the Republic of Malawi.
The Malawian National Identity system captures information about each person that is 16 years of age or older and records that information electronically in a central database, known as the National Register. A unique National Identity number is assigned and a National Identity Card is then issued to each person, which allows them to prove their identity and information. A person’s National ID number then identifies and links them across many systems.
A National ID system serves many purposes. The National Register, which contains information about the population enables policy makers to use data driven planning. That is, they have a reliable, accurate and up to date source of information by which to govern and direct policies for development. This enables improvements in service delivery across both the public and private sectors. For the individual, it gives them proof of their nationality and personal information so that they can use it to claim their benefits.
The National Registration Bureau (NRB) within the Ministry of Home Affairs and Internal Security is mandated by law to create and maintain the National ID system. NRB’s mandate is created under the National Registration Act of 2009, which came into force as of 1 August 2015. The NRB is also responsible for Malawi’s system of recording births, deaths and marriages.
The information to be collected is based on the law. It includes a person’s surname and given names, nationality, date of birth, place of birth, sex, current residence, height, eye color, passport number, marital status and parents information. Unique biometric information is also collected in the form of all ten fingerprints, a person’s photograph and signature.
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.
On one Wednesday morning in the month of June this year, I met a young lady, Martha Phiri outside the Capital City Branch of the National Bank of Malawi in Lilongwe. Martha, probably in her early 20s stood motionless and shaking her head looking more confused. Asked about her problem, Martha indicated, “I wanted to open a bank account in order to easily access funds from my cousin who stays in Blantyre”. The bank could not assist her because she had no identity to authenticate her status. Martha had lost her voter’s ID that she used as an identity for so long.
Many a Malawian are in Martha’s predicament not by choice but because the country is currently not issuing national identity cards. Malawians just like Martha are struggling to access financial services not only from banks but financial institutions as a whole.
1st August, 2015 will go down in the history of Malawi as the day when the country shifted from optional birth and death registration for indigenous citizens [as per the Birth and Death Registration Act of 1904] to universal and compulsory birth and death registration for all in the country [as per the National Registration Act of 2010].
This policy shift meant that the National Registration Bureau (NRB) assumed the roles of birth and death registration from the Registrar General’s office from the date the 2010 law was effected (1st August, 2015). Thus the general public has to visit all district registration offices in the 28 district councils in order to apply for either birth or death certificate for their children and the deceased respectively.