By Alvin Lansana Kargbo
The National Civil Registration Authority (NCRA) commenced a two-day meeting on the 21st September, 2023 to continue today, 22nd September, 2023 focusing on the validation of the 2022 Vital Statistic Report. Held at the prestigious Shangri-La Hotel, located at Lumley Beach in Freetown, the meeting aimed at fulfilling the legal requirement of validating the Report.
Facilitated by Dr. Victor Massaquoi, the Chairman of the IMC, the event brought together various dignitaries and representatives from renowned organizations, including UNICEF, UNFPA, UNDP, Plan International and MDAs including the Gender & Children Affairs Ministry as well as SLRSA, Freetown City Council among others, who expressed their support for civil registration and data statistics.
In his opening statement, Mohamed Mubashir Massaquoi, Director General of NCRA, proudly highlighted that Sierra Leone is one of the few countries in Africa that successfully integrates civil registration.
He emphasized the importance of the meeting, which aimed to scrutinize and validate the vital statistics report adding that the objective is to thoroughly discuss its contents, analyze the data collected thus far and provide an accurate understanding of the Sierra Leone population dynamics.
According to him, a comprehensive analysis would inform Government policies as well as interventions while ensuring effective policy formulations.
Sibeso Mululuma, the UNFPA representative, echoed the Director General’s sentiments during her welcome speech. She emphasized the significance of vital statistics in driving sustainable development also reiterating how the statistics form the foundation for measuring various population-based targets and indicators outlined in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
She reaffirmed UNFPA’s commitment to collaborating with the Government and other stakeholders to strengthen Sierra Leone’s civil registration system saying by doing so the country would progress towards effectively measuring its advancement towards the SDGs and the Africa 2063 agenda.
Insights from Brijesh Kumar, the Digital Adviser of the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, shed light on the crucial role of the vital statistics report. In an interview with The Calabash Newspaper, Kumar emphasized that the report serves as a vital roadmap for comprehensive planning within the country stressing that by analyzing data and statistics, Sierra Leone can improve its planning strategies, ensuring a better future for its citizens.
The Assistant Director General for the Ministry of Gender and Children Affairs, Bamie Sesay, emphasized the significance of the meeting on vital statistics. She highlighted that the gathering is happening at an opportune time and holds immense importance because data serves as a crucial element in effective planning and policy formulation. From a gender perspective, Sesay believes that vital statistics play a pivotal role in understanding and addressing gender-related issues.
Furthermore, she pointed out how they serve as a tool to track progress towards achieving gender equality goals underscoring how as a Ministry that enacted the GEWE Act 2022 it is imperative for them to be actively involved in such meetings.
Abdulrahman Parker, a Public Health Officer and Head of Cemetery at the Freetown City Council, expressed the importance of vital statistics validation in an interview. He emphasized that these statistics contribute significantly to national development and also assist in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). By validating and ensuring the accuracy of vital statistics, a solid foundation is laid for informed decision-making and effective resource allocation, which ultimately fosters development and progress within the nation.
The NCRA’s two-day meeting on the validation of the 2022 Vital Statistic Report will provide the platform for stakeholders and experts to dive into the details of Sierra Leone’s demographic data. The presence of renowned organizations such as UNICEF, UNFPA, and UNDP further underscored the importance attached to civil registration and data statistics.
With a clear focus on sustainable development, the outcomes of the meeting will undoubtedly inform Government’s policies, interventions, and pave the way for better planning and progress in Sierra Leone.