President Joko Widodo plans to achieve 85% birth registration coverage for all Indonesian children by the end of 2019. It sounds like an ambitious plan, remembering that only about 63% of children’s birth are currently registered. For those who are familiar with the issue, it is not a new topic. There have been numerous activities and discussions regarding how to achieve this target, and how to improve the whole civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) system in Indonesia.
Although the issue has been going on for many, many years, we are still lacking coordination and collaboration between the ministries concerned. Several ministries have been working on improving different parts of this system independently, but there hasn’t been a national strategy to coordinate all their efforts. On August 9 and 10, 2016, however, National Development Planning/BAPPENAS, WHO, PLAN Indonesia, UNICEF, and PUSKAPA invited policymakers from over a dozen ministries, several UN bodies and civil society organizations to a workshop to begin developing the country’s first national strategy on CRVS.
The main objective of the workshop was to find common visions for improving Indonesia’s CRVS system, with a particular focus on improving the government’s ability to deliver legal identity documents and unique identification numbers (NIK) to all of its citizens. The workshop started with presentations from a few ministries, explaining what they have done to strengthen the CRVS system. Many great efforts have been made, but what they all need is to a strong and clear coordination mechanisms, something the national strategy would be able to enforce.
In one of the sessions, the participants were divided into four groups to discuss birth, death and marriage registration, and data and interconnectivity. They discussed the situations and came up with solutions to improve civil registration. That’s when the ‘marketplace’ session started. They exchanged ideas, by trying to convince or ‘sell’ their ideas to other groups while also buying other groups’ ideas. The key was to start constructing a big puzzle of integrated solutions.
The marketplace was also a great session to highlight the potential collaborations between each sectors and ended up with these key recommendations: decentralizing the authority of civil registration services from the district to lower levels of government, strengthening through laws and regulations, interconnecting data and information systems between the ministries concerned, and improving social accountability, while also giving serious attention on marginalized/vulnerable groups.
Amanda Bissex, Chief of Child Protection from UNICEF Indonesia, presented case studies from two countries (Thailand and Vanuatu), and explained how they improved their CRVS system. What we can learn from Thailand and Vanuatu is that a combination of multi-sectoral partnerships, comprehensive CRVS assessment, decentralized services, and the awareness of the importance of CRVS becomes the key to improvement. Amanda said, “Indonesia has so much potential. I believe that once the strong coordination mechanisms are formed, we can make sure that every Indonesian will get registered, and can get access to what they deserve.”
Based on lessons learned from these two countries, and others, participants agreed that the mandate to form a committee for coordination and to pass a National Strategic Plan for CRVS had to come from the President to ensure the necessary resources and political will. The results of this workshop will be presented to the Ministry of National Development Planning/BAPPENAS, and there will be a series of closed discussions to build a common vision between ministries, and to make a further plan on how to form the committee. Lastly, the results and the plan will be presented to the President and his staff.
“Indonesia has potential” are three words we should never take for granted. We still have a long way to go, but those three words should be what we believe in, and be reflected in each and every action. Because in the end, teamwork is the ability and willingness to work towards a common vision: to maximize Indonesia’s potential.