Baby Veronica being registered.
The new system is set to drastically increase the number of children under 5 with birth certificates
The Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Constitutional and Legal Affairs of the United Republic of Tanzania, Honorable Ummy Ali Mwalimu, launched today in Mwanza the new simplified birth registration initiative for children under-five in Tanzania. The event took place in Mwanza, the second largest city in mainland Tanzania. Mwanza will be the second region, after Mbeya, to benefit from the new, easily accessible and free birth registration system which is set to register over 400,000 children under-five by December 2015.
This new birth registration system, which is being supported by a generous contribution from the Government of Canada through the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade, and Development, was first field tested in 2012 in Temeke, the largest district of the city of Dar es salaam and in 2014 was officially launched in Mbeya. According to the Acting Chief Executive Officer of RITA, Ms. Emmy Hudson, this simplified system marks a significant shift in accelerating birth registration in Tanzania after years of stagnation.
“RITA has embarked on several initiatives to improve birth registration in Mainland Tanzania, especially to newborn babies to ensure that each baby is captured and registered shortly after birth and closest to home. Through this initiative we see this dream realized and thank our development partners for unwavering support. Temeke and Mbeya have set good examples and we hope to register even better results in Mwanza.”
The 2010 Tanzania Demographic and Health Survey showed that only 16 per cent of children in Tanzania under the age of five were registered with civil authorities, and only about 8 per cent have a birth certificate. Registration in Zanzibar is much more widespread than on the mainland with 78.7 per cent of under-fives registered (63 per cent with a certificate) versus 14.6 per cent registered (6.2 per cent with a certificate) on the mainland.
Prior to the roll-out of the Birth Registration Initiative in Mbeya it was estimated that only 8.7 per cent of the under-five population had a birth certificate. In less than two years after the roll-out, Mbeya saw approximately a 48 per cent increase and now it is estimated that nearly 56 per cent of under-fives in Mbeya have a certificate.
 See Tanzania Demographic and Health Survey (2010), pg. 27.
 Ibid. and See p.28, Table 2.11 Birth Registration for Children Under Five
Baby Veronica and her Birth Certificate.
The new decentralized birth registration and certification system capitalizes on the existing health infrastructure and personnel to register newborn babies soon after birth or within 12 months when visiting health facilities for vaccinations. Registration information is uploaded using mobile phone technology to a centralized data-base resulting in real-time data availability, and a certificate is issued the same day.
This new birth registration and certification system will be operational in Mwanza soon after today’s launch. With financial support from the Canadian Government, this new system will also be rolled out over the next five years to ten additional regions, namely, Mara, Shinyanga, Simiyu, Geita, Iringa, Njombe, Tabora, Kagera, Kigoma and Dodoma.
UNICEF Tanzania Deputy Representative, Paul Edwards.
UNICEF Tanzania Deputy Representative, Paul Edwards, commended the Government of Tanzania for its commitment to prioritizing child rights and reaffirmed UNICEF’s commitment and support towards making birth registration and certification a reality for all children.
“With this initiative RITA has taken an important step towards facilitating birth registration. Registration Assistants are now able to upload information instantly over mobile phones, making data available in ‘real time.’ This type of information is crucial in planning for Tanzania’s future. And it goes without saying that the certificate itself provides protection for children – proof of age informs the State as to who is a child, and provides protection against the exploitation of children and child marriage.”
Tigo Lake Zone Director, Ally Maswanya said: “The support provided by Tigo towards this initiative is in line with the company’s corporate social responsibility strategy which aims at empowering community with information and communication technology tools such as mobile phones. The under-five birth registration initiative demonstrates our commitment as telecommunication experts and attests the potential of mobile technology in development programs.”
The VSO Country Director Jean Van Wetter praised the strong partnership between Government, UN, private sector and civil society: “Birth registration is fundamental to guarantee child rights and further improve the social services delivery system in the country.”