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23 Feb 2022
CRVS Champion: Ms. Gloria Mathenge
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(Newsletter: CRVS Insight February (2) 2022)

Regularly, our community newsletter puts a spotlight on one person who has gone above and beyond in their efforts to support CRVS programmes in Asia-Pacific, raise awareness of CRVS issues or lead CRVS improvement efforts in their home country. This month we are happy to highlight Ms. Gloria Mathenge.

What is your current (and previous) title and role?

I am currently a Statistician at the UN Economic Commission for Africa, headquartered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. I joined UNECA in September 2021. Prior to this, I worked at the Pacific Community (SPC) in New Caledonia as a Social Statistician and civil registration and vital statistics advisor. I also coordinated the Brisbane Accord Group partnership and represented the group on the Regional Steering Group on CRVS in Asia and the Pacific.

Please share with us a particular experience which highlighted the importance of CRVS to you?

Despite having worked on CRVS for a number of years before, working in this area in the Pacific region (while at SPC) brought a lot of new insights about how crucial CRVS systems are to individuals and governments, how the organization of civil registration systems in different contexts may need to differ in order to attend to special needs and how performance of CRVS systems can heavily influence development planning and policy making.

The Pacific Island region is highly vulnerable to natural disasters. The vastness of its sea area and high number of sea activities also creates additional health risks; which are is believed to contribute to a considerable (though unknown) proportion of deaths in the sea and cases of disappearance persons. Learning from the example of countries like Vanuatu that have severally been hit by disasters, civil registration records have in many instances demonstrated to be of lifesaving value due to their usefulness in informing pre and post disaster planning and policy making and in supporting  humanitarian efforts to offer relief during times of disaster. In the mitigation/reduction of deaths at sea and cases of disappearance of persons in the sea, civil registration records remain highly relevant in guiding governments to understand the scale of the problem and to develop of adequate policies to guide sea safe activities. Unfortunately, deaths and disappearances in the sea are often under reported.

How are you currently involved in CRVS improvements?

In my current role, I support implementation of the regional CRVS programme in the Africa region. I am tasked with providing technical assistance to African countries in CRVS systems improvement. This entails supporting development of regional technical resources on CRVS, supporting countries in implementation of such resources and providing overall support to the Secretariat of the regional CRVS programme based at UN ECA.

How would you like to see CRVS in Asia and the Pacific develop by the end of the CRVS Decade?

Similar to the Africa region, my dream is to see countries in the Asia and Pacific region achieving universal registration of vital events and being able to demonstrate what a well performing CRVS system can offer to their governments. I envision a time when there will be a great demand for CRVS outputs at a national level and when civil registration offices will be able to meet such demands sustainably.

Which advice would you give to others trying to improve CRVS systems?

I would advocate that they consider inclusion of civil registration education in elementary school curricula to ensure that the generations to come have a holistic understanding of the value of the systems and that they participate proactively in making these systems functional.

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