Tanzania registers births by mobile phone

2015-10-13 19:00
(Saps, Facebook)

(Saps, Facebook)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Dar es Salaam - Tanzania has launched a nationwide drive to help parents register their children's births by mobile phone so the government can better plan health, education and other public services.

The country has one of the lowest rates of birth registration in eastern and southern Africa. Around 80% of Tanzanians - and more than nine in 10 under-fives - do not have birth certificates, according to the 2012 census.

Child's rights campaigners say ensuring every child's birth is registered is key to safeguarding basic rights and access to healthcare, education and justice. Birth registration also helps protect children from exploitation including child labour, child marriage, trafficking and early recruitment into armed forces.

Last month world leaders agreed to ensure universal birth registration under ambitious new global development goals (SDGs).

Most parents in rural areas of Tanzania do not register their children because of the steep cost, long distances to registry offices, cumbersome process and lack of awareness of the benefits.

Parents have to pay $1.6 if they request a birth certificate within 90 days of a child's birth, or $1.8 afterwards, as well as travel costs - a high price in a country where many rural people live on less than $1 a day.

The new system being rolled out across the country over the next five years allows a health worker to send the baby's name, sex, date of birth and family details by phone to a central data base and a birth certificate is issued free of charge in days.

The initiative - already operating in 10 of the country's 26 regions - is run by the government registration agency RITA, Unicef and telecommunications company Tigo.

90% of all newborns

RITA's acting head Emmy Hudson said the project had accelerated birth registration after years of stagnation.

The government expects to register about a million children under the age of five before the end of this year, and 90% of all newborns within the next five years.

Anna Mbelwa, who gave birth to a baby boy at Mbalizi hospital in the southern Mbeya region this month, said the initiative made a big difference.

"I was very impressed because it usually takes a long time to get a birth certificate," she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. "It was very inconvenient before since parents had to travel a long distance to the district registrar only to be told their children's files were missing."

Globally, around 290 million children do not possess a birth certificate, according to Unicef. Without one, they can face problems later in life if they want to enrol in university, find employment, buy property, access justice or get a passport.

"I will make sure that all my children have their birth certificate, it is very important for their future," Mbelwa added. "At the hospital every delivering mother was quite eager to get a birth certificate, they certainly know its importance."

Read more on:    unicef  |  tanzania  |  technology  |  east africa

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.