Solomon Islands launches electronic civil registration system
Unicef says Solomon Islands move to electronic civil registration database is a significant step for the country.
The United Nations child protection agency, Unicef, says Solomon Islands move to an electronic civil registration system is a significant step forward for the country.
The new system was officially launched in Honiara last week and provides a more secure way to store records including births, deaths and name changes.
Unicef's Chief of Child Protection, Amanda Bissex, says Solomon Islands is estimated to have the lowest rate of birth registration in the Pacific.
Ms Bissex told Amelia Langford the new database will be far superior to the old paper-based registration.
AMANDA BISSEX: This way with an electronic database there is more security of data and it is easier to retrieve the data. If someone loses their birth certificate for example, previously you had to go to the civil registrar office and had to try and locate documentation. Often, you had to pay for the issuing of a new birth certificate but now with the electronic database if you lose your documentation it will be there within the database so it much improves the system in terms of securing data and also access for the public to their data.
AMELIA LANGFORD: And I understand at the moment, Solomon Islands has a very low rate of registering births - is that right?
AB: It does, in 2007, Unicef supported an assessment in Solomon Islands and we found that less than one percent of births were formally registered. Since that time, we have been working in four areas, Honiara and three provinces and piloting a system of decentralising birth registration and working with the health system and in those areas we estimate that coverage has increased to at least 20 percent for children under five but until now because there hasn't been an electronic database it has been impossible to verify what the coverage rates are so an added benefit now of having an electronic system is we can verify what the coverage rate is.
AL: And going to this new electronic system will that benefit child protection agencies in terms of looking after children - how will that help?
AB: I think it helps in a number of ways. We always say that a child's birth registration is sort of their first right to have their identity registered and recognised by the Government. So it helps in a number of ways because in some cases accessing services will become easier. When a child is young that is not such an issue but as they get older and they need to access health services or education services, later in life maybe they want to travel and they want a passport, bank accounts, but also establishing the lineage with the family and being able to say 'yes, I am a member of this family', it's important for inheritance rights especially in Solomon Islands and land issues to be able to prove that you're part of an extended family network so it has a very individual and personal impact on children and making sure they can access their rights.
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