The commitment of the National Population Commission to provide the nation with a wide range of demographic data for planning purposes received a boost as the Board of the Commission at its 150th Ordinary Meeting of 28th October 2015 approved the inclusion of marriages and divorces in its Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) programme.
The Commission also approved the proposed statutory marriage and divorce registration forms as instruments to be used for the registration of the two events.
The registration of marriages and divorces will facilitate the transition of the vital registration programme of the Commission to civil registration and vital statistics, which is consistent with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) protocol which stipulates that a CVRS must register not less than four vital events.
Registration of marriages and divorces yields benefits for the nation and the individuals. At the national level, it provides data on prevalence, trend and rates of marriages and divorces and this will be useful in planning the health particularly reproductive health, education and social security sectors.
At the individual level, marriage registration and certification is particularly important for women and children. Proof of marital status provides them with legal protection from discrimination in enjoying the benefits accorded by marital union.
In some situations, marriage registration and certification confers upon a child his or her status of legitimacy and the right to inherit property from his or her parents. Birth certificates, coupled with laws that set the minimum age for marriage, help to prevent child marriages and their devastating consequences.
Also, Divorce certificates are important for alimony (spousal support), child custody, child support, distribution of property and division of debt. Divorce registration also allows the divorced parties to marry others.
The inclusion of registration of marriages and divorces has expanded the scope of the vital registration programme, which the Commission has implemented since 1989. Births and deaths are being registered throughout the country and certificates issued free of charge.
Recently, the coverage of birth and deaths registration has been increased with the engagement of 451 ad-hoc registrars to speed up the mop-up of the backlog of registration and register the new ones that occur on a daily basis in the 4440 Civil registration centres established nationwide.
Other steps taken to boost the registration of births and deaths include the development and use of Rapid-SMS dash board for monitoring birth registration on real time basis and collaboration with the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) using the National Immunization Programme as a vehicle for registration of births.