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Sarah was 15 years old when her aunt announced that James was interested in marrying her, and that she was better off getting married sooner rather than later.  But Sarah wanted a different life.  She had just completed her primary leaving examinations, and looked forward to a secondary education.  Her aunt would hear none of it.  She made it clear that Sarah had only two options: either marry James, or find another place to stay.  This was scary, as Sarah had lived with her aunt since her parents died when she was only 4 years old.  A member of the Child Protection Committee (CPC) in the village learnt of the plans to marry Sarah off and reported the matter to the village chairman. Both the CPC member and the village chairman visited Sarah's aunt and told her it was illegal to marry off a child below the age of 18.  Sarah's aunt retorted that she was aware of the law, and that Sarah had turned 18 years 2 months ago.  Sadly, Sarah's actual age could not be established without a birth certificate…

 

Source: UNICEF Uganda

Published in Projects
Saturday, 15 August 2015 11:35

Mobile birth registration in Uganda

 

UNICEF promotes birth registration as a human right and has had a pioneering role in advocating for, and successfully supporting birth registration programs in many parts of the world, leading to a level of commitment among governments and bringing about greater efficiency in systems that register births. 

In the recent past, UNICEF has also taken lead in innovating for children through harnessing available low cost technologies. One such clear opportunity for innovation has been the development and use of mobile and internet technologies to support UNICEF and partners to deliver results for children more efficiently and effectively. In Uganda for example, a solution known as Mobile Vital Records Systems (Mobile VRS) was developed with support from UNICEF, under a public private partnership with Uganda Telecom. Mobile VRS uses low cost technology to capture births and deaths registration data at community and hospital levels, and transmit it into a central government server in real time using mobile phones and a web-based application respectively. 

This system which is currently in use in all 135 government and missionary hospitals, and in half of the 112 district local governments, has in almost three years, increased national birth registration rates by an estimated 30 percent point increase from 30% in 2011 (UDHS 2011) to an estimated 60% at the end of 2014 (Mobile VRS/Administrative data). (See Annex 1)

UNICEF aims to support government of Uganda to scale up this solution to the remaining 54 districts and in over 200 Health Center IVs that were designated as birth and death registration districts in late 2014. Uganda has shared and continues to share this innovative best practice that could greatly improve delivery of, and access to birth registration services to all children including those in remote and hard to reach areas. 

 

Issue

While birth registration is compulsory for all people in Uganda according to the Births and Deaths Registration Act of 1970, the reality is that recent estimates from Mobile VRS and administrative data indicate that about 2.8 million of the approximately 7 million children under the age of 5 years in Uganda are not registered.  Without a legal identity that comes with birth registration, a child may not be able to prove their age, nationality and parentage, and as a result, they will not have institutional protection and are more vulnerable to exploitation, violence, neglect, early marriages, child labour, sexual trafficking and slavery. They may also not be able to claim basic services, such as access to education and health, as well as social protection. 

Even though URSB is decentralizing the final birth registration services (issuance of long birth certificates) away from Kampala into its regional offices, to make them more accessible, they remain far from the communities, and the barriers of inaccessibility due to long distances, significant waiting times, registration fees and other associated hidden costs are only reduced slightly. In districts with manual and paper-based registration systems, it takes several months from the time a child is registered to the time they receive their birth certificates, particularly for children born out of hospitals.  

With an estimated 1.5 each year million births in Uganda that needs to be registered, the requests pile up due to their quantity and the tardiness of the data processing in all involved units. 

The birth registration process is also poorly understood, and many people do not know where and how to obtain a birth certificate. In a mobile phone survey conducted in 2012 by UNICEF Uganda, 60% of respondents did not know where to go to register a birth. 

Lastly, birth registration data is an essential prerequisite for the implementation of adequate legislation, policies, as well as planning and delivery of basic social services for children. It will also soon be linked to the National ID as per the Registration of Persons Bill which was approved by Cabinet and whose intentions are to harmonize and consolidate the law on registration of persons, to provide for registration of individuals and to establish a national identification register. Birth registration is thus a critical contributor to good governance.

 

Action

As a response, UNICEF partnered with Uganda Telecom under a Public Private Partnership, and supported Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB), the government institution responsible for Civil Registration, to develop a solution known as Mobile Vital Records System (Mobile VRS). This system uses local mobile and internet technology to capture births and deaths registration data at community and hospital levels respectively. Information on birth records is transmitted in real time using pre-registered mobile phones in the community, and a web-based application in hospitals and district local governments, into a central government civil registry server. This makes the birth registration process faster, more accessible and more reliable, and the system is currently used in all 135 government and missionary hospitals, and in 58 out of 112 district local governments. 

Other planned actions include supporting development of a national policy on birth and death registration, capacity development of registrars and notifiers in the remaining 54 districts and over 200 Health Center IVs that have not yet started using Mobile VRS, system strengthening in the 135 hospitals and 58 districts that are already using Mobile VRS to register birth, advocacy with parliamentarians for increased government funding, builder partnerships with FBOs, CSOs and the private sector for improved service delivery and creating demand for birth registration through awareness creation on the importance of birth registration.

As part of South to South learning, Uganda has also shared with over 20 countries how the mobile and internet technologies can be used to improve delivery of real time birth registration services to all children, including those in hard to reach areas. Uganda will continue to share knowledge and experiences in the region and beyond, providing increased opportunities for effective registration services using innovative methods to millions of children.

 

Impact

Through this initiative, which is currently functional in all 135 government and missionary hospitals and in only 58 of the 112 district local governments, the percentage of birth registration in Uganda, has increased from 30% in 2011 to an estimated 60% by the end of December 2014. This estimated 30% increase in three years is a big improvement considering that national birth registration rates for under 5s increased by only 9 percent points over a 5 year period from 21% in 2006 (UDHS 2006) to 30% in 2011 (UDHS 2011). 

Therefore scaling up the use of Mobile VRS in the remaining 54 local governments and introducing it to the approximately 200 Health center IVs which were gazetted as birth registration districts at the end of 2014, would provide a significant opportunity to increase the birth registration rates for all children including the under 5s, for a target of at least 90% registration has been set in the GOU-UNICEF Country Programme results of 2016 to 2020. 

The design of the Mobile VRS system emphasizes cost effectiveness and long term sustainability. By building a system that leverages very high ownership rates of the most basic mobile phone handsets by designated “Notifiers,” initial investments significantly decreased and concerns about the replacement of old, lost or stolen phones are significantly decreased. UNICEF also supported URSB to acquire a single USSD code number 280 for Mobile VRS, which enables notifiers across different telecommunication networks (MTN, Uganda Telecom and Airtel) to use the same code over their respective sim-cards thereby cutting out the need to purchase and distribute mobile phones to notifiers.

The initial costs of setting up this system (hardware and software development, training, and initial system monitoring) is where the bulk of the investment lies. Recurrent, or ongoing costs, should be quite modest compared to the results achieved. The recurrent per transaction costs of capturing, digitizing and transferring the birth registration records is estimated at about only US$0.5 for every birth or death entered into the system. 

Budget

The budget estimate is based on observed investment costs while supporting strengthening of the capacities of registrars in 58 districts and 135 hospitals that are already using Mobile VRS to register births. This budget will over technical support to government on birth registration, capacity development for staff and procurement and distribution of ICT equipment (Computer, printer, internet modem, data) to the remaining 54 districts and over 200 Health Center IVs to which Mobile VRS will be introduced, overall system strengthening, travel and administrative costs.

Funds from UNICEF core resources will be used to support policy development and legislative reforms, social mobilization for improved public awareness about the importance of birth registration, advocacy work with parliamentarians for increased government funding, as well as contribute to building and strengthening the capacity of URSB to plan, coordinate and give oversight to the entire national birth and death registration exercise.

Published in Projects
Thursday, 23 October 2014 12:57

A tour of Kabarole DCC

KABAROLE - It started at a light note as members of various committees shared results of outstanding assignments on various judicial matters. Like a bomb slowly daring to explode, the meeting slowly boiled from one controversy to another; but thankfully members appeared more than willing to embrace change. First was a submission by one member on the use of the L.C Court as a best practice for diverting petty offences. It wasn’t long before another official threw in a challenge insisting that L.C Courts are acting illegally having been pronounced outlawed by the Constitutional court and therefore have no mandate to handle any case. The general feeling at the end of the day with guidance from the chairperson was that the illegality of L.C courts notwithstanding, the role of L.C courts in case diversion cannot be overstated.

Published in Blog

 

The Justice, Law and Order Sector is participating in a project being undertaken to develop a “training of trainers” manual for duty bearers working within the child justice domain in Uganda. The manual is being developed to enhance access to justice for children in contact with the law within the premise of using more child sensitive approaches to justice for children and using detention as a last resort mechanism.

The juvenile justice training manual is a product of the Uganda National Working Group (UNWG) under the SAJCEA (Strengthening Access to Justice for Children and Youth in East Africa) project which was initiated for the purpose of strengthening access to justice for children and youth in Eastern Africa, through stakeholder collaboration, institutional development and capacity building. The project aims to support a collaborative approach to improving legal services, public legal awareness and law reform on issues relating to the rights of children and youth, thereby increasing access to justice for children and youth in East Africa.

Published in Latest News
Monday, 21 July 2014 09:22

Job Opportunities at Save the Children

 

Save the Children is the world’s leading independent organization for children and has program presence in over 120 countries in the world. Save the Children envisions a Uganda in which every child attains the right to survival, protection, development and participation. Our mission is to inspire breakthroughs in the way the world treats children, and to achieve immediate and lasting change in their lives. We strive to create impact for children by delivering our Programmes through partnerships, by being innovative, by acting as the voice for and of children, and by achieving results at scale.

In Uganda, we implement programmes in six thematic programme areas of Child Protection, Child Rights Governance, Education, Livelihoods & Food Security, Health, Nutrition and HIV/AIDS in development and emergency contexts. Save the Children delivers programs in over 36 districts in the North, Rwenzori, North-Eastern and Central regions of Uganda, Currently, Save the Children has a staff complement of over 200 persons. We save children’s lives. We fight for their rights. We help them fulfil their potential. In 2013, we reached over 143 million children through our work around 52m directly and 91 million indirectly around the world.

Save the Children seeks to fill vacant positions and applications are invited from suitably qualified and experienced Persons for the operations.

 

NOTE: The closing date for receiving applications is 25 July 2014

 

DOWNLOAD FULL ADVERT (198.13 kB)

 

Published: July 21, 2014

 

Published in Archived News
Thursday, 12 June 2014 17:52

Justice for Children Program Reviewed

 

KAMPALA -- The Justice for Children Program (J4C) supported by the Justice, Law and Order Sector has been hailed as a champion for the cause of children in terms of children’s protection, rights and obligations. This was during the review of the J4C program held at Protea Hotel, Kampala on June 12 2014. The review was a stock-taking event to evaluate the programme for the last 2 years, identifying bottlenecks and challenges as well as map out strategies oriented toward ensuring proper delivery of justice services to children.

Published in Latest News

 

Officials from the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) on Thursday June 27 2013 held discussions with the JLOS Secretariat as part of their country tour to assess the state of online child protection on the Internet in Uganda. Ms Susan Hargreaves (Chief Executive, IWF) and Mr. Fred Langford (Director of Global Operations, IWF) will also be meeting key stakeholders responsible for child protection in Uganda including the Internet industry, ministers, government officials, law enforcement and civil society.

 

The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) was established in 1996 by the Internet industry in the United Kingdom to provide advanced online mechanisms for reporting criminal online content in a secure and confidential way. IWF works in partnership with the online industry, law enforcement, government, and international partners to minimize the availability of this content, specifically: child sexual abuse images hosted anywhere in the world; criminally obscene adult content and child sexual abuse images.

 

The purpose of the visit by the IWF was to discuss the Justice, Law and Order sector’s policies, mechanisms and efforts geared toward protection of children’s rights specifically through processes for combating online sexual abuse (pedophilia).

 

During the meeting, key among the challenges of combating child sexual abuse over the Internet were identified. These include: a weak social protection system, general cultural beliefs, lack of sufficient mechanisms by regulatory bodies as well as poor networks among stakeholders (and countries). Additionally, some parents do not want to report child sexual abuse cases because there is often a financial benefit with deals struck with the offenders. In fact the reported cases to the justice system are often a result of “failed negotiations”.

 

Mr. Gadenya Paul, the Senior Technical Advisor, JLOS also pointed out a weakness in the legal framework such as the Penal Code and Evidence Act that were developed a long time ago and therefore do not reflect the realities on the ground when dealing with pedophiles. He however added that the Justice, Law and Order Sector through the Uganda Law Reform Commission is carrying out a review of criminal procedures and rules of evidence to reflect the current state of affairs.

 

According to the IWF, there has not been any identified host servers of child pornography in Uganda. However, Mr. Langford said that IWF would avail free tools to the Uganda Police Force and the public to enable them combat and report online child sex abuse whenever it arises.

 

The Internet Watch Foundation working with the National Information Technology Authority (NITA), Ministry of Information and Communications Technology (MoICT) and the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) will be compiling a report at the end of this visit to inform any action planning efforts in Uganda geared toward child protection against online sexual abuse.

 

 

By This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | Published: July 3, 2013

 

**

Reprinting or republication of this article on websites is authorized by prominently displaying the following sentence, including the hyperlink to the JLOS Website, at the beginning or end of the report:

 

"Internet Watch Foundation Officials Visit JLOS" is republished with permission of the Justice, Law and Order Sector."

 
Published in Archived News

The Technical Committee at its sitting on November 20th 2012 considered a draft proposal by the Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development to strengthen Probation Services in Uganda. The proposal lists four priority areas : reviewing the legal , regulatory and policy environment under which probation officers operate; increasing access to probation services; improving child focused rehabilitation services as well as a strong focus on diverting children from the formal criminal justice system, which are all aimed at creating a robust Probation Service in Uganda.

Given the importance of Probation Services and the need to strengthen them, the Technical Committee decided to appoint a task force comprising of the following persons to consider the draft proposals.

The members of the Taskforce are:

1. Mr. S Kaboggoza- Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development- Chairperson
2. Ms. Robina Rwakojjo Ministry of Justice & Constitutional Affairs
3. Ms. Maurine Atuhaire- Uganda Police Force
4. Mr. Omitta- Uganda Prisons Services
5. Ms. Margaret Mutonyi- Chairperson J4C
6. A representative of UNICEF
7. A representative of the Registrar of the High Court
8. Ms. Rachel Odoi- Musoke – Secretary.

The Task Force will operate under the following terms of reference:

1. Review and refine the draft proposal on strengthening probation services in Uganda
2. Recommend to the Technical Committee strategies for improving probation services in Uganda.
3. Recommend to the Technical Committee quick wins for incorporation in the JLOS Work Plan for 2013/14.

The Technical Committee reassured the task force of its commitment to support the activities and facilitate the Task Force in carrying out its assignment.

 

Published in Archived News

 

KAMPIRINGISA - On November 29th 2012, the Justice Law and Order Sector and Development Partners visited the National Rehabilitation Centre for children at Kampiringisa to establish for themselves , how the Centre was looking after children who had come in conflict with the law and street children who had been brought to the Centre by Kampala City Council Authority.

The team was appalled by the poor leaving conditions for the children, many of whom were living in dirty and dilapidated buildings. The kitchen and dining hall were particularly dirty and in urgent need of repair. Many children were also going without adequate medical care including a child who had a foreign object in his ear, who was turned away from the local dispensary. Some of the children had told us that they had only one pair of clothes and stayed naked whenever they washed them.

Despite the hopeless situation at the Centre, the staff at the school were upbeat about the potential of the Centre as a tool for transforming children in conflict with the law. This optimism is however, far-fetched because without Government putting in the much needed resources to repair the centre, posting of critical staff and install vital facilities, Kampigirisa will only be living a pipe dream- unfortunately putting a full stop to the lives of many children who could have been turned into better citizens, only if, a little gentle and purposeful care was given to them.

The Justice Law and Order Sector will play its part in rehabilitating children and resources permitting, in making the Centre pleasantly habitable.

 

By Gadenya Paul | Published: November 29, 2012

Published in Archived News
Monday, 10 December 2012 00:00

J4C Releases First Issue of the DCC News

 

Justice for Children (J4C) Program is an initiative of the Justice Law and Order Sector (JLOS) funded by UNICEF and implemented by the Centre for Justice Studies and Innovations (CJSI). The Program, which has just launched its second year, is aimed at strengthening the overall sector’s capacity to respond to the needs of children in the justice system. J4C has adopted a new approach to child justice by advocating for justice for all children, not only children in conflict with the law.

DCC and Justice for Children News Bulletin (October 2012) is a monthly update on the ongoing work in the sixteen District Chain-linked Committees involved in the Justice, Law and Order Sector’s Justice for Children (J4C) Programme, implemented by the Centre for Justice Studies and Innovations (CJSI) and funded by UNICEF. DCC News contains information on the regular and noteworthy practices of these 16 DCC’s, as well as information on key cases relating to children in each district, input from key actors and other information relevant for the improvement of DCC collaboration across J4C sites.

The first Issue of DCC News will introduce you to the J4C program, the composition of the DCC’s in the pilot sites and the Steering Committee at the national level. Upcoming issues will provide program updates in program implementation, emerging practices, events Updates, Best Practices and information of the kind.

Contributions are welcome from all readers. J4C would love to hear about your positive results, difficult experiences, innovative solutions, best practices, interesting cases, upcoming events or any other information relating to justice for children.

For more information or to submit an article, please contact your local J4C Coordinator or the editor of this newsletter, Camilla Dalla-Favera, at 0793202481 or contact[at]cjsi.org.

 

By Edgar Kuhimbisa | Published: December 10 2012

 

Published in Archived News
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