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Uganda, 10 September 2013: “Breaking with broken systems” – Pan African study tour in Uganda offers way forward in strengthening civil registration systems in Africa

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Kampala, Uganda, 11 September 2013 - Technology and innovation, combined with an inclusive, robust system to register births and deaths, was the primary lesson for civil registrars from 13 countries who participated in a four-day pan African study tour on civil registration and vital statistics, hosted by the Uganda Registration Services Bureau, together with the European Union and UNICEF. 

In recent years, the rapid expansion of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), including the use of computers, mobile phones, and the Internet, has provided a great opportunity to improve civil registration services in many countries. Uganda is just one of these countries where the use of ICT is already showing promise in boosting birth registrations nationwide. The success is also complemented by adjusting national policy and regulations to ensure inaccessibility, inequality and low demand are addressed.

“As a nation, you can’t plan anything without first capturing the vital statistics,” said Bemanya Twebaze, Registrar General, Uganda Registration Services Bureau. “The Mobile Vital Record System is a simple, yet affordable technology developed by the Ugandan Government with the help of UNICEF and Uganda Telecom, to ensure that the vital records of birth and death are captured in real time.”

For years, birth registration has been stagnated and even declined in some African countries, due to lack of political commitment and many other constrains, such as outdated laws and policies, limited capacities and resources, cultural barriers and poor awareness among populations. In sub-Saharan Africa, almost 60 per cent of children under five years of age do not have birth certificates. The poorest, most marginalized communities are often the ones that are missing out.

“Every child is entitled to an identity, this is a basic human right,” said Sayson Rossette Meya of the EU delegation to Uganda. “Birth registration not only gives a child such an identity, it also offers protection to children and women, and helps them get vital social services. However, for far too long, birth registration has been a neglected issue in Africa. This workshop is part of our efforts to bring the stakeholders and partners together, to learn from the Uganda model and see whether it can be duplicated elsewhere.”

Through field trips to villages and hospitals, the delegates saw firsthand how mobile technology has brought efficiency and effectiveness to Uganda’s civil registration systems. They witnessed how rural communities in particular are benefitting from the change; and how their Ugandan peers work with diverse partners, such as faith based organizations, to increase demand from communities. 

“From what we have seen in Uganda, innovative and technological solutions can help us leap frog progress in civil registration, especially in remote areas,” said Cornelius Williams, UNICEF Regional Child Protection Advisor for Eastern and Southern Africa. “The presence of these government officials echoes the commitments made in the Second Conference of African Ministers Responsible for Civil Registration. South-South learning, like this tour, helps them realize that many of the challenges they face are shared by others, and they can be overcome by making the right investments and sharing of expertise.”

Participants of the study tour included national registrars, statisticians, and health officials from Angola, Burkina Faso, Cote D'Ivoire, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. It also attracted delegates from India and partner organizations including WHO, Plan, Accenture Development Partners and independent experts in the field. 

Note to editor:
This study tour is organized by UNICEF, funded by the European Union, as part of a larger initiative called the Africa Programme on Accelerated Improvement of Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (APAI-CRVS). The two-year (2013-2014) project aims to contribute to an increase in registration of children under 5 by at least 20% and reduce disparity rates between urban and rural birth registration by 50%. 

The APAI-CRVS - was first created in 2010, jointly be the AU, UNECA, AfDB and other UN partners namely UNICEF, UNFPA, UNHCR, WHO and HMN, with an aim to support governments in building fully functional and comprehensive CRVS systems that are built on strong legislative provisions, efficient operations and management systems.  

For further information, please contact: 
Provia Nangobi, Senior Public Relations Officer, Uganda Registration Services Bureau, 0775201188, pnangobi@ursb.go.ug 

Simon Peter Kasyate, Press and Information Officer, European Union, 0414-701035 simon.kasyate@eeas.europa.eu

Kun Li, UNICEF Eastern & Southern Africa, kli@unicef.org, +254 734 813 983

 

 
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