Cameroon’s Minister of the Economy, Planning and Regional Development, Alamine Ousmane Mey, on Friday June 9, signed a partnership agreement with the French Development Agency, on behalf of the state, for the financing of a civil status registration project in some parts of the country.
Going by the deal, which was signed for French Development Agency by its Cameroon country director, Virginie Dago, the sum of €3.5 million (US$3.7 million) will be disbursed to support birth registration in the West region. In Cameroon, civil status registration is done principally by city and local councils, but there are other civil status registration centers.
Speaking during the signing ceremony, Ousmane Mey said the project is part of government’s efforts to improve birth registration in the country and also to help those who have lost their civil status registration documents, to be able to reconstitute them.
The West region borders the North West region which has seen an armed conflict in the past six years. It is also host to thousands of internally displaced persons, many of who have lost their civil documents such as national ID cards and birth certificates.
The funds will be put at the disposal of local councils in the region to help modernise their civil status registration and archiving systems, and streamline the way people get access to civil status registration services.
Another activity earmarked as part of the project, according to the partners, include a community sensitization campaign on the importance of birth registration.
They say the project aims to improve the supply, quality and security of the public civil registry service, increase citizens’ demand for civil registry documents such as birth certificates through gender-sensitive awareness-raising and communication operations, and strengthen the coordination of civil registry actors at the central and decentralized level in order to improve the effectiveness of the services they render to the public.
Dago emphasized the importance of the aspect of reconstitution of lost civil registration documents, saying it will enable the internally displaced persons coming from the North West, especially children, to regain access to basic public services such as education and healthcare.
Statistics from Cameroon’s National Civil Status Registration Office (BUNEC) say the rate of birth certificate issuance in the country currently stands at 69 percent, but many communities still lag behind in birth registration, especially in areas facing security crises such as the Far North, South West, North West and East Regions.
Decentralisation and Local Development Minister George Elanga Obam told a Senate plenary in April last year that work to modernize the country’s civil status registration system is ongoing, and a draft text to lay down the regulatory framework was being finalized.
The French Development Agency is also supporting Nigeria’s digital identity program.