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Thursday, 28 September 2017

Decentralized births registration system for the under-fives rolled out in Lindi and Mtwara Regions

 MTWARA, 26th September, 2017 – Mtwara and Lindi regions launched the roll out of the decentralized births registration system that is expected to benefit more than 290,000 under-five children in the two regions. 

The launch, held at Tandahimba, was graced by Hon. Dr. Harrison Mwakembye, the Minister of Information, Culture, Artists and Sports on behalf of Hon. Minister for Constitutional and Legal Affairs Professor Palamagamba John Aidan Mwaluko Kabudi and other distinguished guests. The goal of the programme is to establish a system for registering all new births and reduce the backlog of unregistered under-five children in the two regions.
The programme moves the points of registration closer to the community. It establishes registration points at health facilities, which provide reproductive and child health services, and at the community ward executive offices in line with the government policy of decentralization through devolution.

This will enable parents in these two regions to easily access more than 780 registration points set up compared to 10 registration points at present. Moreover, there will be more than 1,500 trained Registration Assistants to support the registration process.

The government has waived fee for registration under this programme and the first copy of the certificate is given free of charge. The programme introduces a ‘one step, one visit’ process adapts an innovative way of data collection. Through the use of mobile phone technology data will be instantly transferred and uploaded through SMS, facilitating a real-time tracking of progress.

The decentralized system significantly accelerates birth registration in Tanzania Mainland, after years of stagnation. “We are transforming the system to make it easier for children and their families to access the entitlement of a birth certificate,” said Emmy Hudson Acting Chief Executive Officer of the Registration, Insolvency and Trusteeship Agency (RITA), responsible for the programme.  She added that; “Now parents can receive birth certificates from the designated health facilities or through the ward executive offices.
The system has helped thousands of children in the regions where the decentralized system is in operation and we have a plan to replicate this throughout Tanzania Mainland in the shortest possible time.” She further added that, “ the government duly recognizes the contribution of UNICEF, the Government of Canada and TIGO for their commitments to this cause”.

UNICEF Representative in Tanzania Ms. Maniza Zaman said that "Every child has the right to an identity. A birth certificate is a vital record that documents the birth of a child. This programme is reversing the current low level of birth registration which means that millions of children under-five who are "invisible" in the nation's records, will now be ‘visible’. This will help more Tanzanian children to claim their rights and be protected. The Government too will have better data for policy and planning."

The government is implementing this programme since 2012 in partnership with UNICEF, Tigo and funding from the Canadian Government. The roll out of the initiative started today in two regions – Mtwara and Lindi, joining Geita, Shinyanga, Mbeya, Songwe, Mwanza, Iringa and Njombe which have already been covered reaching 1.64 million under-five children.

Canadian Government is a firm believer of child rights, upholding that every child needs a permanent visible evidence of their birth as it creates a state's legal recognition of children and their rights. 

“Birth registration helps to ensure that every child has access to the health and social services they are entitled to”, said Ian Myles, High Commissioner for Canada in Tanzania. “Canada is a proud supporter of Tanzania’s efforts to promote birth registration, enabling children and their families to exercise their basic rights as Tanzanian citizens. We are delighted to witness the roll-out of the program in Mtwara and Lindi, building on the highly successful roll-outs in Iringa, Njombe, Geita and Shinyanga.”

The funding has facilitated government to establish a sustainable model of birth registration aimed at reaching 3.5 million girls and boys under the age of five. This will significantly contribute to the development of an efficient Civil Registration and Vital Statistics System in the country.

Tigo is supporting the initiative through innovative mobile technology, which ensures that birth registration data is uploaded and sent to a central database at RITA in real time. Tigo is also using its media platforms in raising awareness about the importance of birth registration in Tanzania.

Speaking at the launch ceremony, Tigo Managing Director, Simon Karikari said “Our decision to support this initiative underscores our commitment to build a strong societal ecosystem that brings the promise of technology in communities where we operate. With this innovation, Tigo is making positive and significant contributions to the Sustainable Development Goals. Additionally, this partnership showcase the role mobile service providers can play in addressing a pressing social need through application of their technology and expertise. “ 

The importance of birth registration and certification for any state/nation cannot be undervalued. “Children access to all social services stem from birth certification. Moreover, for adults to acquire other forms of identification such as Voters ID, Driver’s license, Passport and National ID to mention a few requires birth certificate. Today, SIM card registration cannot be performed without one of the IDs mentioned above. It is therefore imperative for Tigo as a responsible mobile operator to join forces with the government of Tanzania to achieve 100% registration and certification of under-five children in Tanzania by 2021“, added Karikari. Together with developing the innovative mobile birth registration application, Tigo is also providing smartphones to support the initiative.

The exercise has bridged the rural-urban divided improving access to the most marginalized communities to register their children. It addresses the core issues of ‘accessibility’ and ‘affordability’ which has been a major barrier in the birth registration system in Tanzania.

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