Mwanza, 11 May, 2015 – 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.”

Baby Veronica being registered during the launch of new birth registration system in Mwanza​, Tanzania.  ©  UNICEF Tanzania/2015/Shanler
Baby Veronica being registered during the launch of new birth registration system in Mwanza​, Tanzania.
© UNICEF Tanzania/2015/Shanler

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.[1] 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.[2]

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.

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.

Baby Veronica registered through RITA,  a simplified birth registration initiative for children under-five in Tanzania. Her mother holds the birth certificate.  © UNICEF Tanzania/2015/Shanler
Baby Veronica registered through RITA, a simplified birth registration initiative for children under-five in Tanzania. 
© UNICEF Tanzania/2015/Shanler

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, 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.

UNICEF Tanzania Deputy Representative, Paul Edwards at the launch of  the new birth registration system in Mwanza.  © UNICEF Tanzania/2015/Shanler
UNICEF Tanzania Deputy Representative, Paul Edwards at the launch of the new birth registration system in Mwanza.
© UNICEF Tanzania/2015/Shanler

“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.”

About UNICEF

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org

About RITA

The Registration Insolvency and Trusteeship Agency (RITA) is the result of transformation of the Administrator General’s Office into an Executive Agency in 2003. RITA is the custodian of information on key life events of the country on behalf of the Government and also deals with matters of administration of deceased estates, bankruptcy, official receivership and incorporation of trustees to name a few. As seen its roles are unique and important for national development. Visit: www.rita.go.tz or twitter.com/ritatanzania or like us on facebook.com/ritatanzania

About Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada

The mandate of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada is to manage Canada’s diplomatic and consular relations, to encourage the country’s international trade and to lead Canada’s international development and humanitarian assistance.

About TIGO

Tigo started operations in 1994 as the first cellular network in Tanzania. It now covers 26 regions in mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar. Tigo strives to be Tanzania’s most innovative mobile phone operator, offering services ranging from affordable mobile voice communications to high speed Internet access and mobile financial services through Tigo Pesa. Tigo is part of Millicom International Cellular S.A (MIC) which provides affordable, widely accessible and readily available cellular telephone services to more than 43 million customers in 13 emerging markets in Africa and Latin America.

About VSO

VSO is a leading independent international development organization that works through professional volunteers to fight poverty in developing countries. VSO has been working in Tanzania since 1961. It currently works in both the mainland and the islands of Zanzibar and Pemba with projects in the fields of education, health and livelihoods.  In 2011, it elaborated a new strategy aimed at scaling up its work and reinforcing its partnerships with key stakeholders in the country. VSO signed Technical Agreement with the Government of Tanzania on 29th November 2001. VSO Tanzania Health Operational Plan aims at ensuring marginalized communities have access to quality health care services focusing on three areas of interventions: Health system management, Health service training and community engagement and education.  Expected outcomes include among others;

  1. Delivery of health services is improved through effective administration (human resources/financial management) and clear operating procedures
  2. Standard of health care services is improved through access to quality pre-service and in-service training
  3. Increased awareness among local communities of available health services and healthy sexual, reproductive and nutritional practices

For further information, please contact:
Birgithe Lund-Henriksen, UNICEF Tanzania, Tel: +255 22 2196600, blundhenriksen@unicef.org

Josephat Kimaro, RITA, Tel: +255 22 2153069 or +255 22 2153067, info@rita.go.tz

Nadia Hamel, High Commission of Canada in Tanzania, Tel: +255 22 2163306, Nadia.Hamel@international.gc.ca

Patricia McCullagh, High Commission of Canada in Tanzania, Tel: +255 22 2163337, Patricia.McCullagh@international.gc.ca

[1] See Tanzania Demographic and Health Survey (2010), pg. 27.

[2] Ibid. and See p.28, Table 2.11 Birth Registration for Children Under Five

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