“In Aceh the coverage of legal identity document ownership is still low. This is due to limited government resources and the distance from service centres,” explained Syarbaini, head of the Population and Civil Registration Office in Aceh.
To overcome this challenge, the Aceh Government began piloting the Village-based Civil Registration Services model in 2017. This model was developed by KOMPAK and its partner PUSKAPA and uses Village Registration Officers (known as PRG) to bring civil registration services closer to communities. The PRG are village residents who are appointed by village heads to help the community process their legal identity documents. Their activities are funded by the Village Budget.
Initially, PRG were established in three of KOMPAK’s target districts. “Within two years, the average coverage of birth certificate ownership in the three districts reached 88 percent, exceeding the national target set by the central government,” said Syarbaini. He explained that this has helped district governments compile more accurate CRVS data to improve the quality of planning and budgeting. “For example, the government can decide to build a new school based on the number of school-aged children in one area.”
Due to the initial success, the Provincial Government of Aceh has adopted the model across the province. As of August 2020, there are now over 3,000 village registration officers serving across 2,445 villages in 12 districts and cities out of 6,514 villages and 23 districts/cities respectively in the whole province.
Aceh Jaya District is one of the districts that adopted PRG in 2019. According to Saloma, the Head of District Population and Civil Registration Office, the low coverage of birth certificates and death certificates was the basis for establishing PRG.
“One of the obstacles for the community in processing CRVS documents is the distance from the district capital,” explained Saloma. Also, low digital literacy and unequal access to telecommunications need to be addressed through direct services at the village. “Since last year, PRG have been able to increase the coverage of birth certificates by 10 percent and death certificates by more than 200 percent,” added Saloma.
This is in line with the priority of the Aceh Government to increase coverage of birth and death certificate ownership. According to Syarbaini, when a death certificate is issued, the name of the respective person will be removed from the civil registration system, allowing services and social assistance to be diverted to those in need. “It’s especially helpful during the COVID-19 pandemic, where the Aceh Government is providing assistance to poor families affected by the pandemic. If we have data on residents who have died, the budget will be spent more efficiently and assistance can be well-targeted,” he said.