600,000 under-five children set to benefit from decentralised birth

22Mar 2019
Getrude Mbago
The Guardian
600,000 under-five children set to benefit from decentralised birth

OVER 600,000 under-five children in the regions of Dodoma and Singida are set to benefit from the decentralised birth registration system which will see children getting their birth certificates for the country’s development. 

Statistics shows that before the launch of the new system, less than 10 per cent of the children had birth certificates in Dodoma and Singida regions leaving over 90 per cent of them out of birth registration system.

Speaking at the launch event yesterday in Singida town ,Minister for Constitutional and Legal Affairs Dr Augustine Mahiga emphasized  that it was every child’s right to be identified that’s why the government is determined to ensure that all births are registered.

Mahiga said that at least 650,000 children under the age of five will benefit from the programme in the two regions.He said the government is implementing the new system since 2012 in partnership with UNICEF, Tigo and the Canadian government, which  are providing funding. 

The roll out in Dodoma and Singida region joins the regions of Lindi, Mtwara, Geita, Shinyanga, Mbeya, Songwe, Mwanza, Iringa, Njombe, Mara and Simiyu which had already been covered reaching 3 million under-five children.This system is very important because it will also help the government to know the exact  number of births and plan well its development plans and services provision,” he added. 

He further added that “Tanzanian government has also waived fee for registration under this initiative where the copy of the certificate is given free of charge.” 

He called upon parents and relatives to make well use of the programme by sending all their children under the age of five to get the certificates.

The decentralised birth registration system 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 decentralisation through devolution. 

UNICEF Representative in Tanzania, 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.”

According to her, the 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.

Acting Chief Executive Officer of the Registration, Insolvency and Trusteeship Agency (RITA) Emmy Hudson said “We are transforming the system to make it easier for children and their families to access the entitlement of a birth certificate,”

According to her, parents can now receive birth certificates from the designated health facilities or through the ward executive offices timely. “The system has helped thousands of children in the regions where the decentralised system is in operation and we plan to replicate this throughout Tanzania mainland in the shortest possible time,” she said.

 The new system has 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. The system has also helped in improving the certification rate for Tanzania mainland from less than 13 per cent to more than 38 per cent in little over five and a half years.  

Pamela O’Donnell, High Commissioner for Canada in Tanzania said 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.  

“For every child, a birth certificate provides access to essential human rights. It grants them with a personal identity and is a child’s link to education and health care. Providing boys, but especially girls, with legal armor is crucial to protecting them against child trafficking, child labour and early marriage”,