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16 Feb 2023
CRVS Champion: Ponifasio Vasa
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(Newsletter: CRVS Insight February 2023)

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

What is your current title and role?

I am the Assistant Chief Executive Office for Births, Deaths and Marriages Division and Registrar for Births, Deaths and Marriages.  

The institutional arrangements in Samoa are quite unique, whereby the Office for Births, Deaths and Marriages is situated within Samoa Bureau of Statistics.  

My main role is to ensure full compliance with BDM Legislation in registration of births, deaths, marriages and divorces, as well as verifications of vital statistics for overseas citizenships and registration of adoptions.  

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

The experience I treasure most in terms of highlighting the importance of CRVS in Samoa, is outreach programmes. Through outreach programmes, we have witnessed the vulnerabilities of some population groups (especially those residing in isolated areas or people living with disabilities), in terms of their accessibility to services and access to birth or death certification.  Without access to a birth certificate, people may face challenges in accessing many government services such as education, health services and financial services.

There are tailored government services for people living with disabilities, but a birth certificate is a necessity to access these essential services.

How are you currently involved in CRVS improvements?

In Samoa, we try to ensure that every person is reached by civil registration services through outreach programmes and public awareness campaigns.  I feel in my role as Assistant Chief Executive Office for Births, Deaths and Marriages Division and Registrar for Births, Deaths and Marriages, it is important for me to continue coordinating with our core group of CRVS stakeholders and to continue building this network, in order to advocate for the importance of CRVS. Collaboration with stakeholders is key to our work in improving access to civil registration.  

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

Be patient and persistent, especially when it comes to advocacy among CRVS stakeholders for CRVS improvements.  Collaboration with other civil registrars in the Pacific region such as through the Pacific Civil Registrars Network (PCRN) is also invaluable, for sharing experiences between countries and working together to strengthen our national civil registration systems.   

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