Birth registrations form an important basis for the planning social services in each country; however the process is often a nightmare for those living in rural areas. A sad reality, more than 90% of children in East Africa have no birth certificates. Families living in poor households choose not to get their children registered because of the financial constraints associated with travelling to government institutions to register new babies.
On a mission to offer better health services, the Tanzanian government is simplifying the registration process by introducing a new way to receive birth certificates using mobile phones. This innovative system is currently being rolled out across Tanzania and allows health workers to send the baby’s name, sex, date of birth and parents’ details through text messaging to a central database and the birth certificate will be issued in a matter of days.
The approach was first introduced in 2013 in partnership with Tigo and UNICEF and the system is now being used in ten regions of the country, with plans to expand to more regions in the next five years.
“I never imagined that one day my two kids would possess birth certificates. This is a miracle to me. I am very happy because now my two kids will be able to register for primary education” said Tuli Mwankenja, a resident in the Mbeya region in Tanzania, expressing a fear that most mothers in the region share- the fear of their children being academically excluded due to not possessing a birth certificate.
“For us to continue dispensing services to Tanzanians, it is important for the government to have accurate statistics on the population including number of children being born,” added Ummy Mwalimu, deputy minister for Constitutional and Legal Affairs.
A birth certificate for every child in Tanzania, it is possible! We look forward to the changes and opportunities that this initiative will create for the families living in poor households in the country. Innovation has once again proved to be the key to improving lives in Africa! Well done to the Tanzanian government, and hopefully this system can be adopted in more countries across the African continent.