Tanzania launches a decentralized births and deaths registration system for the under-fives

IRINGA, 22nd September, 2016 – The Minister for Constitutional and Legal Affairs Dr. Harrison George Mwakyembe (MP) launched the decentralized births and deaths registration system for the under-five cohort in Iringa and Njombe Regions, today. The exercise will benefit more than 200,000 under -five children in these two regions, reducing the backlog of unregistered children and establishing a system for registering all new births in the regions.

The programme brings registration closer to the community by establishing registration points at health facilities, providing reproductive and child health services, and at the community ward executive offices in line with the government policy of decentralization through devolution. This will enable parents in these two regions to have access to more than 700 registration points. Moreover, there will be more than 1,500 Registration Assistants to support the registration process.

As a special gesture, the government has waived fee for registration under this initiative and the first copy of the certificate is given free of charge. The initiative is a ‘one step, one visit’ process and has adapted an innovative way of data collection using mobile phone technology ensuring instant transfer of data which is uploaded through SMSs facilitating a real-time tracking of progress.

The decentralized system marks a significant shift in accelerating birth registration in Tanzania Mainland, after years of stagnation. “We are transforming the system to make it easier for children and their families to access the entitlement of a birth certificate,” said Emmy Hudson Acting Chief Executive Officer of the Registration, Insolvency and Trusteeship Agency (RITA), responsible for the programme.

Ms. Hudson added that, “this initiative transforms the system into a ‘one step, one visit’ registration and certification from the existing ‘three steps, multiple visits’ involving more than one visits to the District Administrative Secretary’s office. Now parents can receive birth certificates from the designated health facilities or through the ward executive offices. ”

UNICEF Representative in Tanzania Maniza Zaman urged that "Every child has the right to an identify. A birth certificate is a vital record that documents the birth of a child. Currently Tanzania has a very low level of birth registration which means that millions of children under-five are "invisible" in the nation's records. This initiative to accelerate birth registration will help more Tanzanian children to claim their rights and be protected. The Government too will have better data for policy and planning."

The government is implementing this programme with partners, UNICEF, Tigo and Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) with funding from the Canadian Government since 2012. At present the initiative is going on in two regions – Mbeya and Mwanza. Starting with Iringa and Njombe, there is a plan to take it forward to additional ten regions. "Birth registration is key to accessing health care for Tanzanian children. Canada is a firm believer in ensuring that every child has a permanent, official and visible evidence of their birth as it creates a state's legal recognition of these children and their rights" says Ian Myles, High Commissioner for Canada in Tanzania. This funding will facilitate government efforts that are geared towards establishing a sustainable model of birth registration targeting 3.5 million girls and boys under the age of five. This would go a long way in evolving an efficient Civil Registration and Vital Statistics System in the country.

“This initiative addresses the core issues of ‘accessibility’ and ‘affordability’ in these regions and has the potential to be replicated throughout the country”, said, Angela Anatory, the Registration Manager, RITA who is leading the project.

TIGO is supporting the initiative through innovative mobile technology, which ensures that birth registration data is uploaded and sent to a central database at RITA in real time. TIGO is also supporting in creating awareness about the importance of birth registration and the project.

TIGO’s Corporate Social Responsibility Officer, Woinde Shisael said that, “TIGO is proud to be the sole telecommunication company partnering with RITA and other stakeholders in order to make sure that every child birth in Tanzania does not go unaccounted for.”

The Birth Registration programme in Iringa and Njombe is also supported by VSO through human resource by providing coordinators and field volunteers to support the implementation of the project.


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 Global Affairs Canada

The mandate of Global Affairs Canada (GAC) 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. The Under-five Birth Registration Initiatives in Mbeya and Mwanza were funded by GAC. GAC is also funding the initiative in Iringa and Njombe, with a commitment to fund scaling up activities to 8 additional regions. For more information about GAC and its work, please visit: www.international.gc.ca

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 international development organization that was founded in 1958. We currently work in over 40 countries across the world, with the headquarters based in London, UK. Our core expertise is in education, health, wealth creation and participation & governance. Our unique niche is to build the long term capacity of local service providers through tailored coaching provided by highly skilled volunteer professionals, enabling us to go beyond the impact traditional training approaches deliver to focus on creating a learning culture within the organizations where we work. For more information please visit: www.vsointernational.org

For further information, please contact:

Usia Nkoma-Ledama, UNICEF Tanzania, Tel: +255 787600115, +255 762871830 [email protected]

Josephat Kimaro, RITA, Tel: +255 22 2153069 or +255 22 2153067 [email protected]