The primary function of civil registration is to issue members of the public with official documents that they can present as legal proof of identity and family relationships. These documents help people to access key social and public services and support realisation of fundamental human rights. Civil registration records are also an important source of vital statistics such as on births and deaths (and causes of death), which are needed by governments to guide planning and policy making in numerous sectors, including through providing a denominator for calculation of many demographic, health and social indicators.
In situations of disasters and emergencies, civil registration systems play a crucial role such as supporting reunification of individuals with their families, and providing critical data to governments needed for planning for relief and other forms of assistance. Nevertheless, during times of disasters, civil registration systems are also largely disrupted which affects their ability to support these critical functions.
This paper draws on Vanuatu’s experiences to discuss the importance of civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) systems and the challenges faced when these systems are implemented during disasters and emergencies. The paper also discusses key strategies to mitigate the impact of disasters on CRVS systems.