Text-based birth registration service introduced for Senegal’s villages

A Swiss non-governmental organisation Aide et Action has introduced a texting service in Senegal that allows parents to send details of their newborns to registration centres to obtain birth certificates

In use in Kolda Village in Senegal, the service would enable parents to register their newborns without having to travel to registration centres.

Unlike the previous method of registration where chiefs were provided with registers, the village has been provided with mobile phones equipped with the birth registration applications.

The chief later sends the information to a government registrar via text message at a cost of 60 cents for certificates, and10 francs 2 US cents for sending the text.

From September 2011, parents who participated in the beginning of the programme registered 20 births in a period of three months.

The highest registration being 12 births in 2003, however this improved, according to a civil registration official who confirmed that there has been an improvement of about 80 percent since the service’s introduction.

Agnès Pfister Aide et Action spokeswoman said the new method ensures information is secure, as it not only uses a coding system but has its data centralized and stored in a server, where only the concerned authorities can easily access.

Research has it that about 20 countries in the African continent had high cost of birth registration as the most powerful restriction to registration.

Yaya Kandé, deputy chief of birth registration, said Villagers there often do not have money to organize for even baptism they would simply name their child and return to their farms or businesses without concern of the future.

The new mobile phone application is intended to cut down on school dropouts.

The programme is being studied for adjustments the organisation is working on legalalising the system as a method of birth registration.

Senegalese law which does not make declaration of birth certificates a must, distance, poverty, lack of knowledge and disregard, among other factors led to the setback of birth registration in some of Senegal’s villages. The text-based service is viewed as poised to increase registaration of newborns in the country.

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