Uganda has one of the highest fertility rates at 6.3 as reported by the World Bank 2008 report; an estimated 1.4 million infants are born every year with few of them registered and even fewer issued with birth certificates. The Uganda Health Demographic Survey (UDHS 2006) reported that only 21 out of 100 children aged 5 years and below had had their birth registered.
The importance of birth registration includes proof of identify and age to facilitate access to social services, such as education, health and protection as well as ensure protection from violations affecting children’s rights such as trafficking, sexual abuse, family separation, early marriage, child-labor, enrolment in armed groups and to uphold the juvenile justice, moreover, the adults benefits are countless as well.
Article 7 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), states the following:
1. The child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have the right from birth to a name, the right to acquire a nationality, and as far as possible, the right to know and be cared for by his or her parents.
2. States Parties shall ensure the implementation of these rights in accordance with their national law and their obligations under the relevant international instruments in this field, in particular where the child would otherwise be stateless.
In Uganda, the government office mandated by law to oversee the delivery of births and deaths registration services, is the Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB), which has in close collaboration with UTL and UNICEF, developed a Mobile Vital Records System (Mobile VRS) that enables the use of mobile phones and web based application to register birth and death. Mobile VRS is an innovative prototype USSD/SMS and web-based application, intended to address the bottlenecks in a paper based system, and to play a vital role in streamlining, simplifying and decentralizing delivery of births and deaths registration services in Uganda.
Mobile phones will be used by Notifiers to send via USSD births and deaths notifications from the community level to a central server (Mobile VRS) at URSB. This information will be verified by respective registrars at sub-county and Town Council offices using their computers prepositioned at their offices and or mobile phones. If the information of the births records is found to be complete and consistent, birth certificates will be printed at the sub-county and Town Council offices, signed by the registrars and sent to the registered persons at community level through Parish Chiefs and notifiers.
To learn more about birth and death registration, please click here