Call for papers:


Lessons learned from local initiatives supporting sustainable civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) systems in Africa


Side meeting at the African Population Conference,
Johannesburg, South Africa, 28 November 2015 



Organized by the IUSSP Scientific Panel on Innovations for Strengthening Civil Registration and Vital Statistical Systems.


Submission deadline: 31 August 2015

Online Submissions:



Download pdf version of call for papers



Sub-Saharan Africa is the region where uncertainty about fertility and mortality trends is the greatest. Our understanding of demographic changes in this region is often based on sparse and inconsistent estimates from surveys and censuses. This is because Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) systems operating in the vast majority of countries fail to provide full national coverage. Even in areas covered by registration offices, many vital events go unreported or local registers are not used to produce regular statistics. Overall, less than 50% of deaths are reported in official records at the national scale, with only few exceptions (e.g. South Africa). Only 44% of children under age five have had their birth registered in Sub-Saharan Africa [1].


In recent years, there has been a growing momentum for strengthening CRVS. The importance of timely, high-quality and disaggregated data on vital events is a standing item of discussions related to the post-2015 agenda. The need to accurately register deaths with a cause certified by a medical practitioner is now being recognized more widely by governments and the international community. Action to support birth registration levels has also intensified, in order to overcome barriers to basic rights such as education and social protection.


Most of these recent efforts have been devoted to better coordination between key stakeholders at the national and regional level. Many countries have also undertaken comprehensive assessments of their CRVS system and have prepared national investment plans. Less attention has been devoted to assessing birth and death registration completeness at the subnational level and understanding how local systems of registration can be used as stepping stones for national CRVS. For example, some capital cities already achieve a high completeness of death registration, often because death certificates are required to obtain a burial permit. Civil registers from large cities remain a relatively untapped source of data, seldom used by National Statistical Offices. Health and Demographic Surveillance Systems (HDSS) have also the potential to support CRVS by providing adequate training for personnel, hosting validation studies, and testing innovative data collection systems. However, HDSS are not always perceived as a key part of the national statistical and health systems.   


This event will take place as a side meeting to the 7th African Population Conference (APC) in Johannesburg, organized by the Union for African Population Studies (UAPS). It will bring together participants attending the APC and additional participants from civil registration authorities (CRAs (including staff from local registration offices), National Statistical Offices (NSOs), Ministries of Health, HDSS sites, and international organisations.


Possible themes covered by the submissions include the following:

  • What are the lessons learned from local initiatives supporting sustainable civil registration and vital statistics systems in Africa?
  • What are the incentives to register births and deaths locally?
  • How are local initiatives integrated with the national statistical systems?
  • Are there innovative ways to make sure that notifications of vital events are followed by registration and issuance of certificates?
  • Experiences and lessons learned in the production of vital statistics from incomplete civil registration systems.


Online Submissions:


Abstracts should be submitted via the IUSSP website before 31 August 2015 at


Submissions should include a short 200-word abstract AND an extended abstract (2 to 4 pages, including tables).


The working languages of the side meeting will be English and French and simultaneous translation will be provided. Abstracts may therefore be written in English or French.


Submission should be made by the author who will attend the side meeting. If the paper is co-authored, please include the names of your co-authors in your submission form (in the appropriate order).


Selected papers will be published as a special issue in a scientific journal.


Thanks to support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), financial support will be available to cover travel and accommodation for a limited number of participants. If you require travel support to attend the meeting, please include this request in the submission form at the end of your short abstract.


For further information please contact Organizers: Patrick Gerland ( and Bruno Masquelier (



IUSSP Panel on Innovations for Strengthening Civil Registration and Vital Statistical Systems:


Chair: Patrick Gerland (United Nations Population Division);

Membership: Carla AbouZahr (CAZ Consulting), Maria-Isabel Cobos (United Nations Statistics Division), Mark Landry (World Health Organization (WHO) Western Pacific Regional Office), Bruno Masquelier (Université Catholique de Louvain), Gloria Mathenge (United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA)), Neo Lepang (Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs, Botswana), Chalapati Rao (Australian National University), Anneke Schmider (WHO / OMS), Romesh Silva (United Nations).

[1] UNICEF (2013), Every Child's Birth Right: Inequities and trends in birth registration,