By Shadrach Aziz Kamara
The National Civil Registration Authority (NCRA), has on Tuesday 24th August, 2021 held a one day engagement with Western Area Tribal Heads at the Buxton Memorial Hall on Charles Street in Freetown.
The Director of National Civil Registration Authority (NCRA), Mohamed M. Massaquoi, expressed appreciation to Local and Tribal Heads within the Western Area for gracing the occasion, adding that it is important towards strengthening of birth and death registration services in the Western Area. He maintained that as a Government they have realized that partnering with Local Government will yield a lot of result towards educating the populace on the importance of birth and death registration. He went on to say that the purpose of the engagement is to consult local authorities on the registration exercise, adding that the role of tribal heads in recording vital events within their communities cannot be overemphasized. He continued to say that in most cases residents of various communities do report happenings to them like births, deaths, marriages etc. He added that the intervention of tribal heads will make the process of recording births, deaths, marriages be easy for NCRA. He further underscores that there have been some issues in relation to registration of births and deaths in the country, adding that he is with the strong conviction that with the engagement of tribal heads it will increase the awareness about the importance of the registration of births, deaths, marriages and divorces in the Western Area and the country as a whole.
The Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Tamba Lamina, expressed gratitude to the National Civil Registration Authority NCRA for the collaboration with the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development towards strengthening the registration of births, deaths, marriages etc. in the Western Area and by extension the country as a whole, adding that there have been some challenges in respect of registration of births, deaths etc but he added that with the engagement those issues will be addressed. He reiterated that the importance of the registration of births, deaths, marriages and divorces in the Western Area will help Government to plan in terms of resource mobilization, supporting citizens in accessing social services like education, justice, healthcare etc.
The Child Protection Specialist at UNICEF, Stefano Schwarz, said that the process of recording child’s birth is a permanent and official record of a child’s existence and provides legal recognition of their identity, adding that birth registration is not only a fundamental human right, it also ensures that children’s rights are upheld, adding that like the right to protection from violence and essential social services like health care and justice. He maintained that UNICEF will place its focus on children under one year of age due to the low registration of their age group (73 percent) and to the national legal framework, which he said required birth registration within 90 days of birth. Underscoring some of the issues within the birth registration, he said entrenched traditions and culture interfere with the registration processes such as late naming of births, adding that public awareness about the compulsory aspect of civil registration is weak. He went on to say that most people are unaware of the significance of such registrations.
One of the participants, the Western Area Mende Tribal Headman, Chief Matthew Jibao Young, thanked the National Civil Registration Authority (NCRA) for considering them as very important players towards the strengthening of the registration of births, deaths, marriages etc. within the Western Area in Freetown, adding that as tribal heads they will help to cascade the information about compulsory registration of births, deaths, marriages and divorces within their communities.