For every child: an identity
Decentralized birth registration system for under-fives
What is UNICEF doing for birth registration?
In March 2019, the decentralized birth registration system was launched in the Singida and Mtwara regions. The launch follows the rollout of the system in 11 other regions in Tanzania, which resulted in an overall increase of certification of under-fives in these regions from less than 10 per cent to more than 80 per cent. In Tanzania mainland, the system has helped in improving the certification rate from less than 13 per cent to more than 35 per cent in just over 5 and a half years.
The aim is to establish a system for registering all new births and clear the backlog of unregistered under-five children. In 2012, the Tanzania Population and Housing Census (TPHC) pegged the number of children 0-4 with a birth certificate in Tanzania mainland at less than 13 per cent.
The importance of birth registration cannot be underestimated since it grants a legal identity on children for life. Without a birth certificate, children may be excluded from education as well as health and social services.
Actions by Government and partners to accelerate under-five birth registration
Decentralization of the birth registration system: The programme supports establishment of registration points at health facilities and at the community ward executive offices in line with the government policy of decentralization through devolution. This brings the service closer to the people, cutting down on costs and time.
Affordability: The government has waived the fee for registration under this programme and the first copy of the certificate is given free of charge
Simplified process: The programme has overcome a key barrier of having to make several visits to the District level for follow-up on registration, to ‘one step, one visit’ process in which the registrar either at health facility or village executive office provides the certificate on the spot.
Use of technology: The programme uses mobile phone technology ensuring instant transfer of data which is uploaded through SMS, facilitating a real-time tracking of progress.
Legal reform: The revision of the Birth registration law in 2009 is making it compulsory for all Tanzania’s to register. The Law of the Child Act (2009) also recognizes the child’s right to identity and statehood right from the onset of a child’s birth and stresses the right to registration upon birth. The Government is at an advanced stage of amending the Birth and Death Registration Act to address the core issues including the problems of accessibility and affordability.