Ecuador’s Investment in Modernized Statistics Shows Benefits for SDGs
Photo by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth
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Experiences in Ecuador show how investment in the modernization of CRVS and identity (ID) management systems is key to ensuring citizens’ access to rights and better policies.

Over the past ten years, Ecuador has moved from a paper-based to an electronic registration process, and transformed an obsolete technology infrastructure by developing its own technological solutions.

Experiences in Ecuador demonstrate how investment in the modernization of civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) and identity management systems is key to ensuring citizens’ access to rights and better policies. The Ecuador case study is part of a compendium of good practices for advancing SDG target 16.9 (provide legal identity for all, including birth registration) published by the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data and the Centre of Excellence.

In Ecuador, the Dirección General de Registro Civil, Identificación y Cedulación (DIGERCIC) is part of the National Public Data Registration System, which combines information from many registers, including CRVS and ID management, and makes it available to public and private institutions through interoperable platforms. The case study explains that DIGERCIC signs agreements with public and private institutions to grant access to identity information, each agreement containing the terms and conditions for institutions to access data. In order to gain access to data, institutions must provide justification for each field of information to which they request access.

In 2010, DIGERCIC started to go through a modernization process. According to the case study, the modernization process was supported by strong political leadership and financial commitment followed by a clear and updated legal framework. The authors report that in the process of consolidating improvements and strengthening the CRVS and ID management systems, DIGERCIC engaged in institutional coordination with key counterparts, such as the Ministry of Health and the National Institute of Statistics and Census, and this coordination allowed the agency to standardize concepts and methodologies to ensure comparable data and solid vital statistics. Furthermore, transitioning to digital technology “greatly improved” the quality of services the agency provides. The publication explains that registration is done 100% electronically now, through a unique identification number assigned at birth; and paired with the digitization of the information contained in paper-based records, this has resulted in a more complete civil registration database and better integration of civil registration and identification information.

During the modernization process, birth registration was improved by providing civil registration services in health facilities. In addition, to close data gaps and reach populations that were historically excluded, such as rural populations, indigenous communities and African Ecuadorians, DIGERCIC is using strategies like mobile units and special brigades to reach remote areas and vulnerable citizens. In order to measure users’ satisfaction and use feedback to improve service, the publication notes, the institution conducts a monthly average of 3,000 surveys nationally. The sustainability of its business model is assessed through the analysis of direct financial revenues and estimated social benefits of the modernization process.

The case study notes that, after being in a state of emergency in 2008, DIGERCIC transformed itself into a modern civil registration and identification agency through a total investment of USD 277.6 million, of which 73.4% was financed through Ecuador’s national budget and 26.6% through a loan from the Inter-American Development Bank. This investment covered administrative costs, human resources, ID credential materials, infrastructure and equipment, monitoring and the purchasing of land to build facilities. The case study notes that DIGERCIC was modernized to be financially sustainable, its revenues having been higher than its expenses since 2015. Revenues include renewals or duplicates of ID cards, passports, E-certificates of vital events, and copies of original paper records. 

The publication titled, ‘Compendium of Good Practices in Linking Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) and Identity Management Systems,’ also features five other country case studies: Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Namibia, Netherlands and Peru. The authors note that the benefits of a holistic approach to CRVS and identity management span several aspects of governance, including ensuring people’s rights, improving service delivery, reducing corruption, and leaving no one behind. [Compendium of Good Practices in Linking Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) and Identity Management Systems – Ecuador]

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