The National Identification Regulatory Authority (NIRA) has been called upon to institute effective coordination mechanisms with local government to ensure improvement in birth registration rates countrywide.

Speaking at the UNICEF Speaker Series held at UNICEF Uganda head office on 9th May 2017, Ms Sheila Depio, a Researcher with the Economic Policy Research Centre noted that local government authorities are carrying out birth registration without filing returns to NIRA as required by the Registration of Persons Act (2015).  She also added that district officials at times impose exorbitant charges to effect birth registration.

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Ms Depio called for synchronization of roles regarding the registration of marriages, births and deaths among stakeholders,  implementing partners at the local government level with NIRA  as specified in the Local Government Act 2007.

“We need to create awareness, build capacity and institute systems that facilitate local governments to originate and remit timely records to NIRA,” She said urging local governments to recognize NIRA, the legally mandated organ to register all persons in Uganda.

Depio also noted that despite improvements since the innovation of the Mobile Vital Records Systems (MVRS), Uganda still falls short of universal birth registration and certification. “Registration hardly happens at birth and most people are compelled to register only when conditioned by job, travel or educational requirements,” She added. 

During the deliberations, cultural norms were cited as being one of the biggest impediments to childbirth registration. Some participants reported that certain norms push parents to leave the Health Centre to perform rituals before the child can be named. It was noted that this challenge could be addressed by registering the newly borns during the immunization phases.

Other issues raised were; the registration of children born in refugee camps especially where parents are of different nationalities; and the secuirty, protection and sharing of data collected by NIRA with other government agencies. 

Citing the progress made by Kenya, Michelle Ell the Project Director 4Children (Catholic Relief Services) called for collaboration between government and Civil Society in the capture of national child registration data saying it had largely worked in Kenya.

Child registration is inline with SDG 17:7 which mandates countries to provide legal identity for all by 2030 including birth registration. This aids national planning, protection and inclusion of children in national development. 

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