Home Affairs Woes Continue

THE Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration is experiencing difficulties in registering births and deaths because of lack of access to some of the country’s remote areas.

A consultant in the department of civil registration, Annette Bayer Soringbel, disclosed this information at the ministry’s stakeholders’ meeting yesterday.

The department issues identification documents, manages the registration of births, deaths and marriages as well as the national register.

According to Soringbel, the ministry encounters challenges when it comes to reaching people in remote rural areas.

“Mobile campaigns are costly. There are operation constraints at offices and the lack of appropriate identification equipment contributes to double registration,” she said.

Soringbel said the ministry also has difficulties accessing appropriate vehicles to reach communities in remote areas, especially during floods.

“This results in duplicates as birth records cannot be verified,” said Soringbel.

In addition, there are other challenges such as people’s tendencies to register births or deaths at later stages.

“Almost 40% of parents do not register their children during the first years after birth,” said Soringbel.

Past media reports show that the ministry has been understaffed in the past, and yesterday Sorindbel pointed out that the ministry is still struggling with this problem.

According to her, one of the good examples of an understaffed office is the Khomas regional office that only has four clerks, two chief clerks and one chief control officer.

She said on a monthly basis, they have to deal with a 1 000 birth registration duplicates that need to be traced and issued, while there are at least 300 late death as well as birth registrations and 1 200 identification documents to deal with. The woes of the ministry continue, as they allegedly have outdated legislation, which at times leads to uncertainty as to how the ministry should address certain aspects, said Soringbel, adding that one of the examples is Act no. 83 of 1963.

Despite all the difficulties the ministry has experienced, it has scored other achievements such as opening 26 sub-regional offices and 21 high volume hospitals, especially in far rural areas.

According to records, 92% of Namibians have had their births registered and 89% of deceased people have had their deaths registered, as per 2011 Population and Housing census.

“The ministry has introduced identity registration at schools for pupils who are 16 and above and held national campaigns as well as enabling the availability of information leaflets,” said Soringbel, adding that the ministry is also enjoying the automation of historical records and soon the National Planning Register System web-based software will be integrated.

Home affairs has also come up with strategies to meet some of these challenges through the recruitment of new staff and aertising vacant positions in the department in addition to consultations done with the University of Namibia and Polytechnic of Namibia to develop a curriculum on Civil Registration and Vital Statistics.

The National Statistics Agency’s Liina Kafidi said it is important for the country to have Civil Registration and Vital Statistics to measure developmental progress and ensure good governance.

“In most African countries, civil registration is dysfunctional and people probably die without leaving a trace of their existence,” said Kafidi.

Kafidi said due to the almost non-existent or incomplete civil registration, one cannot compile vital statistics and this makes it harder to monitor mortality, morbidity, national goals and targets.

“Communities cannot effectively plan for instance for social grants, inheritance, various health and education services as well as housing and infrastructural development,” said Kafidi.

According to her, at times, civil registration may exist in areas but might be hindered by difficulties with coverage and timeliness, which affect the quality of statistics at the end of the day.

Source : The Namibian