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Imagine a girl having no record of her existence. How will she attend school, receive health care, travel, vote, apply for a job, or inherit a property? Civil registration provides a fundamental right to services, to protection and well-being. Yet, more than half of women and girls in Laos are living with no legal identity (MOHA, 2018). 


Worldwide, according to the World Bank (2018), an estimated 1 billion people cannot officially prove their identity; 40% of them are below 18 years old. In Lao PDR, Only 43% of the total population has their births registered, (MOHA, 2018). For people to count, they must first be counted, and that’s what a Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) system does by adopting a life-course approach through recording the details of all major life events including births, marriages, divorces and deaths. 


Birth registration is the first step in securing legal identity and accessing fundamental rights like education, healthcare, employment, and social protection. ​As the sole continuous source of population data, it provides the foundation for human rights.


Civil registration also provides an overall picture of the population and produces accurate and timely statistics of the demographic and health of the population. The vital statistics generated from registration records are essential for policy development in health, education, employment, economic planning, social protection, and other sectors.


12 of the 17 SDGs’ and 67 of the 230 SDG indicators can be measured from a well functioning CRVS system. The CRVS data particularly helps advance SDG 5, “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.” CRVS contributes to the monitoring of child marriage, adolescent pregnancy, and preventable maternal deaths, which in turn enhances monitoring of the Lao government’s ICPD25 commitments - a critical stepping stone to realizing SDGs. 


In Lao PDR, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MOHA) has been improving the registration of vital events to ensure that everyone is counted. Lao PDR joined other countries in the region in adopting the Ministerial Declaration to ‘Get Everyone in the Picture’ in Asia and the Pacific and established the 2016—2025 CRVS strategy. UNFPA supported the preparation of Lao delegates to join the second ministerial conference held in November 2021.  Recently, MOHA and the Lao Statistic Bureau (LSB) started to digitalize the paper-based Civil registrations as part of system strengthening with support from the World Bank. 


“By the end of CRVS decade (2015-2024), the government would have strengthened the registration system, applied multisectoral coordination approach and increased public awareness especially in rural and remote areas,'' said Ms. Thirakha Chanthalanouvong, Director General of the Social Statistics Department, Lao Statistics Bureau, Ministry of Planning and Investment.


Apart from the system strengthening, public awareness is another essential component that can lead to the completeness of civil registration. “People do not understand the importance of civil registration and/or are not aware of it. There is a lack of outreach and awareness-raising in communities, especially in remote areas. This is something that we aim to improve as we try to enhance our data collection system,” says Mr. Pounlanath Vannalath, Head of Kaisone Phomvihane District Home Affairs Office, Savannakhet Province. 


UNFPA works closely with the Lao government through the conVERGE initiative providing capacity building to produce, use, and disseminate vital statistics, aligning practices with international standards. We seek and mobilize partners to support and improve coordination, modernize systems, raise public awareness, and produce accurate statistics towards fulfilling the government’s ICPD25 commitments and the SDGs. 




UNFPA is the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency, works in over 150 countries including Lao PDR, to achieve zero maternal deaths, zero unmet need for family planning, and zero gender-based violence.



For more information please contact:

Mr. Phonexay Sithirajvongsa

Monitoring and Evaluation Officer, UNFPA Laos   


Ms. Vanly Lorkuangming

Communications and Partnerships Analyst, UNFPA Laos