Count­ing the un­counted: 1.1 bil­lion peo­ple with­out IDs

Financial Nigeria Magazine - - Contents - By Vy­jayanti T De­sai, co-au­thors: Matthias Witt, Kamya Chan­dra, Jonathan Marskell Source: World­bank.org

An es­ti­mated 1.1 bil­lion peo­ple world­wide can­not of­fi­cially prove their iden­tity, ac­cord­ing to the 2017 up­date of the World Bank's Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion for De­vel­op­ment (ID4D) Global Dataset.

Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion mat­ters

How do we prove who we are to the peo­ple and in­sti­tu­tions with whom we in­ter­act? Imag­ine try­ing to open your first bank ac­count, prove your el­i­gi­bil­ity for health in­sur­ance, or ap­ply for uni­ver­sity with­out an ID; qual­ity of life and op­por­tu­ni­ties be­come se­verely re­stricted. An of­fi­cial­lyrec­og­nized form of ID is the key en­abler – crit­i­cal not only for ex­er­cis­ing a wide range of rights but also for ac­cess­ing health­care, education, fi­nance, and other es­sen­tial ser­vices. Ac­cord­ing to the World Bank Group's lat­est es­ti­mates, this is prob­lem­atic for an es­ti­mated 1.1 bil­lion peo­ple around the globe.

Ad­dress­ing this most ba­sic bar­rier was the ra­tio­nale be­hind the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity's de­ci­sion to set tar­get 16.9 in the UN Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment Goals: “to pro­vide le­gal iden­tity for all, in­clud­ing birth reg­is­tra­tion” by the year 2030. It was also the im­pe­tus for the World Bank Group's

launch of the Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion for De­vel­op­ment (ID4D) ini­tia­tive in 2014.

In or­der to work ef­fec­tively to­wards this am­bi­tious goal, gov­ern­ments and de­vel­op­ment part­ners need to un­der­stand the scale of the chal­lenge – and ev­ery year the World Bank Group up­dates the ID4D Global Dataset to do just that. Us­ing a com­bi­na­tion of pub­licly avail­able data (e.g. birth reg­is­tra­tion cov­er­age rates from UNICEF) and self-re­ported data from ID agen­cies, we es­ti­mate the pop­u­la­tion with­out an of­fi­cially rec­og­nized ID in 198 economies. In ad­di­tion, we col­late rel­e­vant qual­i­ta­tive in­for­ma­tion such as de­tails on the agen­cies and min­istries re­spon­si­ble, and the preva­lence of sys­tems which are dig­i­tal (now in­tro­duced in 133 economies, but not nec­es­sar­ily with full cov­er­age in each).

Who are the 1.1 bil­lion?

The lat­est data pro­vides greater in­sight on the break­down of this fig­ure:

· 78% live in Sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa and Asia, in­di­cat­ing that these re­gions should be the fo­cus of global ef­forts; · 40% are chil­dren un­der the age of 18 and one in six are un­der the age of five, re­in­forc­ing the im­por­tance of the first of the ten Prin­ci­ples on Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion which en­sures uni­ver­sal cov­er­age from birth to death

· More than half live in lower-mid­dle in­come economies, while a third live in low-in­come economies.

It is also worth not­ing that the level of de­vel­op­ment of a coun­try likely af­fects the cov­er­age of IDs: 36% of the pop­u­la­tion in low-in­come economies is es­ti­mated to lack an of­fi­cially-rec­og­nized ID, com­pared to 22% in lower-mid­dlein­come economies, and just 9% in up­per­mid­dle-in­come economies.

There is more to the story, how­ever. Few coun­tries re­port or pub­lish more than na­tional-level sta­tis­tics for cov­er­age of adults with IDs, which ham­pers our abil­ity to know ex­actly where gov­ern­ments and de­vel­op­ment part­ners need to di­rect their ef­forts. For ex­am­ple, only 43 coun­tries re­port such data that is dis­ag­gre­gated by gen­der, which is fun­da­men­tal to un­der­stand­ing whether or not women and girls face dis­pro­por­tion­ate chal­lenges in ob­tain­ing an ID.

The lat­est 1.1 bil­lion fig­ure is down from 1.5 bil­lion in 2016. This is be­cause of im­prove­ments in the method­ol­ogy, bet­ter data sources for 128 economies, and a par­tic­u­larly large in­crease in the num­ber of reg­is­tered peo­ple in In­dia achieved through the rapid progress of Aad­haar (see the Method­ol­ogy & Sources tab in 2017 ID4D Dataset file for fur­ther de­tails).

What's ahead? Im­prov­ing the ID4D Global Dataset

This prob­lem is not merely about mea­sur­ing the chal­lenge, but also about re­al­iz­ing the SDG's de­ter­mi­na­tion to 'leave no one be­hind'; to reach those fur­thest be­hind first. In or­der to do this, it must first be known who is less likely to pos­sess an ID, and ide­ally why. Who are the ex­cluded? Is it the poor­est pop­u­la­tion seg­ment? Peo­ple who live in ru­ral ar­eas? Which prov­inces or states do they live in?

More­over, spe­cial at­ten­tion needs to be paid to un­der­stand­ing the sit­u­a­tion of pop­u­la­tions who are al­ready marginal­ized in so­ci­ety and whose vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties could be ex­ac­er­bated by be­ing with­out an ID: dis­abled per­sons, the el­derly, indigenous per­sons, and chil­dren be­tween the age of five (when it be­comes more com­pli­cated to regis­ter for a birth cer­tifi­cate) and the el­i­gi­bil­ity age for a na­tional ID (e.g. 16 or 18 in many coun­tries). Like­wise, we sim­ply don't know how many of the world's 200+ mil­lion mi­grants, 21.3 mil­lion refugees, or 10 mil­lion state­less per­sons have Ids.

There are three im­me­di­ate steps that gov­ern­ments and de­vel­op­ment part­ners can take to ad­dress the lack of dis­ag­gre­gated data:

1. ID agen­cies and sta­tis­ti­cal of­fices can be­gin pub­lish­ing data on the num­ber of peo­ple they have reg­is­tered by gen­der, by age and by lo­ca­tion. Peru and In­dia al­ready do – other coun­tries such as Thai­land and Nige­ria pro­vided this data on re­quest.

2. Ques­tions on pos­ses­sion of IDs can be in­cluded in cen­suses and house­hold sur­veys, which will be es­pe­cially help­ful for some of the marginal­ized pop­u­la­tions men­tioned ear­lier.

3. To bol­ster these ef­forts, the in­ter­na­tional sta­tis­ti­cal com­mu­nity should de­velop stan­dards, def­i­ni­tions and method­olo­gies, and con­sider ex­pand­ing the cur­rent in­di­ca­tor for SDG tar­get 16.9 to look be­yond just birth reg­is­tra­tion of chil­dren un­der five. We are pleased to re­port that through sup­port from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foun­da­tion, ID4D has in­cluded ques­tions re­lat­ing to ID cov­er­age as well as chal­lenges in ob­tain­ing a na­tional ID in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the 2017 Global Fin­dex Sur­vey (which cov­ers over 90 coun­tries). To­wards the end of this year, we will be able to pub­lish na­tion­ally-rep­re­sen­ta­tive, com­pa­ra­ble ID cov­er­age data, which can be dis­ag­gre­gated in a mul­ti­tude of ways. In ad­di­tion, we plan to fur­ther strengthen the ID4D Global Dataset through new part­ner­ships and ad­di­tional in­vest­ments from in­ter­ested part­ners, fo­cus­ing on im­prov­ing the method­ol­ogy and data col­lec­tion.

By tak­ing these steps to bet­ter count the in­vis­i­ble in our world, we are strength­en­ing our com­mit­ment to pro­vid­ing le­gal iden­tity for all.

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