Statistics show that the registration rate has increased to 49 percent from 13 percent before commencement of the programme, which is jointly implemented by the government, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Canadian government and Tigo, a mobile phone service provider.
Under the new, decentralized system, the government seeks to identify and register all under-five children across the country.
Speaking during the launch of the programme specifically for Morogoro and Coast regions, the Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Dr Augustine Mahiga stated that at least 560,000 children under the age of five in the two regions will in the next two months have been provided birth certificates.
Dr Mahiga stressed that it is every child’s right to be identified, and that’s why the government is determined to ensure that all births are registered.
He said the roll out in Coast and Morogoro would add two regions, joining Dodoma, Singida, Lindi, Mtwara, Geita, Shinyanga, Mbeya, Songwe, Mwanza, Iringa, Njombe, Mara and Simiyu which have already been covered, reaching four million under-five children.
This system is important because it will also help the government know the exact number of births and set out well its development plans and service provision, he asserted.
The government has also waived fees for registration under this initiative and a copy of the certificate is given free of charge, he stated.
Dr Mahiga called upon parents and relatives to make use of the programme by sending all their children under the age of five to get their certificates.
The decentralized birth registration system moves the points of registration closer to the community, he pointed out.
It establishes registration points at health facilities, which provide reproductive and child health services, and at community ward executive offices in line with the government policy of decentralization through devolution, the minister intoned.
The UNICEF Acting Representative in Tanzania, Rene Van Dongen said that every child has the right to an identity. “A birth certificate is a vital record that documents the birth of a child. The right to be registered immediately after birth, to have a name and acquire a nationality is every child’s right, enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child – for which the world recently celebrated its 30 years.”
The simplified birth registration programme reverses the current low level of birth registration where millions of children under-five are invisible in the nation's records, and will now be ‘visible,’ he pointed out.
Gwen Walmsley, Minister-Counsellor and Senior Director (Development) at the Canadian High Commission, said Canada is a proud supporter of Tanzania’s under-five birth registration strategy and has provided C$ 30.6 million for its implementation in 26 regions in Mainland Tanzania.
She said the funding has facilitated the government to establish a sustainable model of birth registration aimed at reaching close to four million girls and boys under the age of five in 15 regions.
In reversing low level of birth registration and making invisible children visible in the nation's records, this exercise will help more children to access various facilities and be protected.
Acting Chief Executive Officer of the Registration, Insolvency and Trusteeship Agency (RITA), Emmy Hudson said they have transformed the system to make it easier for a child’s family to access the entitlement of a birth certificate.
Parents can timely receive birth certificates from designated health facilities or through ward executive offices, she said.
“The system has helped thousands of children in the regions where the decentralized system is in operation and we plan to replicate this throughout Tanzania Mainland in the shortest possible period,” she affirmed.
Tigo is supporting the initiative through innovative mobile technology, which ensures that birth registration data is uploaded and sent to a central database in real time.
The mobile phone operator is also using its media platforms in raising awareness about the importance of birth registration in Tanzania.
It has provided 1,900 smart phones worth 134m/- to support the initiative.
The new registration system has resulted in an overall increase of certification of under-fives in the specific regions from less than 10 percent to more than 80 percent.