22 September 2016: The Government of Tanzania launches a decentralized births and deaths registration system for the under-fives in Iringa and Njombe Regions
IRINGA, 22 September 2016 – The Minister for Constitutional and Legal Affairs Dr. Harrison George Mwakyembe (MP) launched the decentralized births and deaths registration system for the under-five cohort in Iringa and Njombe Regions, today. The exercise will benefit more than 200,000 under-five children in these two regions, reducing the backlog of unregistered children and establishing a system for registering all new births in the regions.
The programme brings registration closer to the community by establishing registration points at health facilities, providing 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 have access to more than 700 registration points. Moreover, there will be more than 1,500 Registration Assistants to support the registration process.
As a special gesture, the government has waived fee for registration under this initiative and the first copy of the certificate is given free of charge. The initiative is a ‘one step, one visit’ process and has adapted an innovative way of data collection using mobile phone technology ensuring instant transfer of data which is uploaded through SMSs facilitating a real-time tracking of progress.
The decentralized system marks a significant shift in accelerating 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.
Ms. Hudson added that, “This initiative transforms the system into a ‘one step, one visit’ registration and certification from the existing ‘three steps, multiple visits’ involving more than one visits to the District Administrative Secretary’s office. Now parents can receive birth certificates from the designated health facilities or through the ward executive offices.”
UNICEF Representative in Tanzania, Maniza Zaman, urged that, “Every child has the right to an identify. A birth certificate is a vital record that documents the birth of a child. Currently Tanzania has a very low level of birth registration which means that millions of children under-five are “invisible” in the nation's records. This initiative to accelerate birth registration 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 has been implementing this programme with partners UNICEF, Tigo and Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) with funding from the Canadian Government since 2012. At present the initiative is occuring in two regions – Mbeya and Mwanza. Starting with Iringa and Njombe, there is a plan to take it forward to additional ten regions. “Birth registration is key to accessing health care for Tanzanian children. Canada is a firm believer in ensuring that every child has a permanent, official and visible evidence of their birth as it creates a state’s legal recognition of these children and their rights,” says Ian Myles, High Commissioner for Canada in Tanzania. This funding will facilitate government efforts that are geared towards establishing a sustainable model of birth registration targeting 3.5 million girls and boys under the age of five. This would go a long way in evolving an efficient Civil Registration and Vital Statistics System in the country.
“This initiative addresses the core issues of ‘accessibility’ and ‘affordability’ in these regions and has the potential to be replicated throughout the country,” said Angela Anatory, the Registration Manager at RITA, who is leading the project.
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 supporting in creating awareness about the importance of birth registration and the project.
TIGO’s Corporate Social Responsibility Officer, Woinde Shisael, said that, “TIGO is proud to be the sole telecommunication company partnering with RITA and other stakeholders in order to make sure that every child birth in Tanzania does not go unaccounted for.”
The Birth Registration programme in Iringa and Njombe is also supported by VSO through human resource by providing coordinators and field volunteers to support the implementation of the project.
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