Information and stories on Tanzania

Project Healthy Children

Global hunger is one of the most pressing and visible poverty-related issues in our world today. People can easily recognize the defined ribs, sunken eyes and bone-thin limbs of starvation. However, there is another side to hunger that is not as obvious: micronutrient deficiency.

Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals such as zinc, iron, iodine, vitamin A and folic acid. In developed nations like the United States, most people get these critical nutrients from maintaining a well-rounded diet or taking a daily supplement. But it isn’t always that simple in some other parts of the world. In fact, micronutrient deficiency remains a big problem in Eastern and Southern Africa but often does not get the attention it deserves because the effects are not immediately visible. For this reason, micronutrient deficiency has been nicknamed “hidden hunger.”

Hidden hunger has real and long-lasting consequences. Insufficient amounts of vitamins and minerals can result in learning disabilities, mental retardation, low work capacity, blindness and premature birth. These deficiencies lower overall health and weaken the immune system, thus making it much harder to survive infections like HIV and measles. They can cause extreme birth defects in children and are the leading cause of maternal death during childbirth.

Background

Clearly, micronutrient deficiency is a pressing issue that deserves the attention necessary to mitigate it. An organization called Sanku’s Project Healthy Children (PHC) is doing just that through a process known as food fortification: essentially, they add critical micronutrients to the flour people already consume.

PHC is based in Tanzania and currently supplies almost 2 million people with fortified flour to help them get the vitamins and minerals they need. Flour is a staple food that many people consume regularly; according to the PHC website, “over 50 million Tanzanians eat maize flour every day,” but more than 95 percent of it is produced without added nutrients in small, rural mills. Countries like Tanzania are in desperate need of better access to micronutrients—here, about 35 percent of children under 5 years old have stunted growth due to under-nutrition. Project Healthy Children uses the mills and distribution systems already in place to simply add essential micronutrients to the flour with no additional cost for the consumer. This way, people can get the nutrition they need without changing their eating or purchasing habits.

Why Food Fortification?

  1.  It is cheap: Food fortification is very inexpensive, typically costing no more than $0.25 per person annually. In other words, one quarter donated is enough to supply someone with adequate nutrients for an entire year.
  2. It is effective: Improving nutrition can be highly beneficial to overall health, work capacity and productivity. Women who sustain good nutrition before getting pregnant greatly reduce the risk of maternal death and birth defects.
  3. It has a huge payback: The economic rewards of food fortification are astounding. The WHO estimates that the consequences of micronutrient deficiency (birth defects, learning disabilities, premature death, etc.) can cost a country about 5 percent of its GDP per year. Supplying people with critical vitamins and minerals puts less pressure on a country’s health care system and allows for a more productive workforce. In addition, the Copenhagen Consensus estimated that for every dollar spent on nutrition in young children, a country will save an average of $45 and sometimes as much as $166.

The Future of Project Healthy Children

In the past few years, Project Healthy Children has become even more streamlined in its approach to food fortification. A partnership with Vodafone, a mobile network based in the United Kingdom, allows PHC staff to remotely monitor flour mills so that they instantly know when a machine is down or a mill is low on nutrients. The partnership saves money, time and manpower, allowing PHC to run more smoothly.

Project Healthy Children currently helps nourish about 1.7 million people in sub-Saharan Africa but hopes to reach 100 million people by 2025, an ambitious goal that would be instrumental in lifting communities in Southern and Eastern Africa out of extreme poverty.

– Morgan Johnson
Photo: Flickr

The African Continental Free Trade Agreement The African Continental Free Trade Agreement is the largest free-trade agreement in the world with a 1.2 billion-person market and a combined GDP of 2.5 trillion dollars. It was signed in March of 2018 by 44 African heads of state, and following the initial signing, 5 more countries joined in July for a total of 49. The African Continental Free Trade Agreement’s primary focus is to increase intra-African trade by promoting free movement of goods and tariff-free trade. In fact, for the countries that joined, tariffs are expected to decrease by 90 percent within 5 years.

According to an article by The Economist, roughly 82 percent of African goods are exported to other countries. Due to high transport costs, poor infrastructure (e.g. in West Africa, less than one-fifth of the roads are paved) and time-consuming border procedures, it is more costly to trade within Africa than to export to foreign countries.

With the new free-trade agreement, a more competitive market will emerge that will reduce costs for consumers. Additionally, producers will have access to a larger number of potential buyers, as well as more investment opportunities from foreign countries. Strengthening intercontinental trade has the potential to protect the countries in Africa from the impact of exogenous trade shocks.

Maximizing the Impacts of AfCFTA

In order to reap the highest benefits from the new intra-continental free trade agreement, it is imperative to make adjustments to Africa’s trade structure. However, trade facilitation is not an easy task. It involves coordination between countries, transparency in policies and easing the movement of goods. Currently, intra-African trade accounts for only 16 percent of Africa’s total exports, while the bulk of its exports are to Europe (38 percent), China (19 percent), and the U.S. (15 percent). With the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa estimates that intra-African trade will see a 52 percent increase by 2022.

Infrastructure Development

Reducing non-tariff barriers, like transport time for goods, is an essential component of solidifying the new free-trade agreement. According to the International Monetary Fund, the average cost of importing a container in Africa is about $2,492, which is significantly more expensive than the cost of exporting to another continent. This helps to explain Africa’s high incentive to export the majority of its goods.

In order to aid with the implementation of infrastructure projects, the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) has facilitated two main systems of information. The African Infrastructure Database (AID) concerns itself mainly with data management and stores information about ongoing infrastructure development projects including the location as well as relevant financial and economic information. The Virtual PIDA Information Centre contains regional and continental infrastructure projects and promotes investment opportunities.

Clearly, higher access to information regarding infrastructure projects can help countries organize themselves around infrastructure development efficiently. This will help to reduce the intra-African costs of trade by fostering more easily navigable and cheaper transport routes between countries.

Economic Integration

It is crucial to consider that the informal trade sector contributes to a large amount of overall trade in Africa. The Africa Economic Brief is a document published by Jean-Guy Afrika and Gerald Ajumbo that discusses the specifics of informal trade in Africa. It states that the informal cross border trade sector (ICBT) represents 30-40 percent of total intra-African trade. In West and Central Africa, women make up almost 60 percent of informal traders, and 70 percent in Southern Africa.

Problems that affect the formal sector, like infrastructure and trade, have a disproportionate effect on the informal sector—especially for marginalized groups such as women and youth. It is unclear how the African Continental Free Trade Agreement will affect these groups as trade is adjusted; however, an increased focus on local trade and easier trade routes will likely facilitate trade for everyone involved. Since informal trade struggles with the same main issues as formal trade, making trade more accessible in the formal sector can create positive spillovers.

The informal trade sector is an important one to protect. Big businesses often avoid trading with rural areas due to high transportation costs, so instead these areas rely on informal trade for food, clothing and other commodities. Furthermore, ICBT provides a vital source of income to individuals who are often low-income or low-skilled. According to the Africa Economic Brief, studies estimate the average value of informal cross border trade to be 17.6 billion dollars per year in the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

In order to provide support for informal traders in Eastern and Southern Africa, the United Nations is funding a project to help decrease gender-specific obstacles in Malawi, Tanzania and Zambia. A focus on female empowerment will help maintain and improve the informal trade sector and contribute to poverty reduction.

With support from various organizations, countries in Africa are taking defining steps to reduce taxes, transport times, and an increase in market competition. Signing the African Continental Free Trade Agreement opens Africa up to free trade and, if facilitated effectively, it will have enormous positive implications for Africa’s economy.

– Tera Hofmann
Photo: Flickr

biometric identificationGavi, the Geneva-based vaccine alliance, has partnered with Simprints Technology in order to provide more accurate records of vaccination for children in Bangladesh and Tanzania. The partnership hopes to use biometric identification methods to track the medical history of children under five. Because half of the children born in sub-Saharan Africa are not registered at birth, they lack an official “identity,” making it infinitely more difficult to access medical care and vaccinations for life-threatening diseases. This ever-evolving technology would allow doctors to administer immunizations at clinics to scan a child’s fingerprint, and immediately have access to a complete record of vaccinations.

What is Biometric Identification?

Biometric identification uses unique indications of a person, such as a fingerprint, voice recording, retinal scan or even an ear scan, as proof of a person’s identity. Major technology corporations like Apple have been moving towards this as a more secure mode of entry to devices like laptops or smartphones. As so many facets of daily life are digitalized, and with many people in developed countries possessing more than one device and countless online accounts, this method does away with the need for passwords and usernames. Instead, users may unlock their devices or accounts with their fingerprints or their face. Because of the reliability and security of this method, global poverty initiatives, like Simprints, are looking towards this technology as a means of accurately tracking medical history and practice.

The Security Risks

Though biometric identification poses many benefits, there are security risks to using this technology. Just as bank account passwords or credit card information can be hacked and stolen to be used for profit, so too can this more complex information. Hackers would not be stealing someone’s fingerprint or retinal scan. Instead, as technology like this becomes more prevalent, a robust online identity will be attached to individuals, geographic location, gender, and medical records. Access to this information may allow companies seeking a profit to contact a more specific demographic, and hackers may sell this information to people who may benefit from it.

These security risks are combatted by ensuring informed consent before any scans are taken and allowing every individual to determine for what purposes their data is used.

The Vaccination Record Initiative

Simprints Technology, a non-profit organization specializing in biometric identification, is providing the fingerprinting equipment for this trial. The company’s mission is to use biometric identifying technologies to fight global poverty, primarily by easing the minutia of healthcare. For example, these methods can also be used to increase maternal healthcare by more effectively tracking an expectant mother’s doctor visits.

In Bangladesh and Tanzania, Simprints and Gavi will work to create digital identities for thousands of young children. Simprints technology is so fine-tuned for this type of work that their equipment can account for the blurriness of a child’s fingerprints, and potential burning or scarring of the hands that is more common for people from this demographic. Once these programs are enacted, doctors or those working in medical clinics will simply scan a child’s finger to access a complete and accurate medical record.

Despite security concerns regarding biometric identification and its uses, this increased health initiative will safeguard children against preventable diseases. The program is a demonstration of how people with a desire to fight global poverty are doing so with revolutionary technology.

– Gina Beviglia
Photo: Flickr

Orphans in Tanzania
Team Nelson is a nonprofit organization based out of Atlanta, GA that works to send orphans in Tanzania to school. In 2017, there was a 79 percent net enrollment rate in primary school but only a 23 percent net enrollment rate in secondary school. After primary school, many teenagers have to find work to help provide for their families, so retention is a huge issue in secondary school. Many of the orphanages in Arusha, Tanzania lack the funds to send their children to school, so McCrea O’Haire and her board began to raise money to send the first boy she met, Nelson, to school. From there, it grew.

Team Nelson has been successfully raising money and awareness in order to send more Tanzanian orphans to school. The organization also encourages kids to prioritize their education and reap the greater benefits of completing their education instead of leaving to find work. The Borgen Project had the opportunity to interview McCrea O’Haire about Team Nelson about sending orphans to school in Tanzania.

Who is Nelson?

Nelson is one of the first kids that O’Haire met in Tanzania and the inspiration behind Team Nelson. Upon first meeting him, she recalls him having a reserved and shy nature, as he was just trying to blend in with the other children. It was not until she learned of his situation that she saw him for who he really was and “realized how important it is to help the invisible children that people might not notice.” She eventually decided to transform Team Nelson into much more than just one child. Originally, she did not intend to do anything other than sending Nelson to school, but she received an outpour of support from family and friends which snowballed her intentions. Once she felt the support around her, she had the inspiration to do more.

The Future of Team Nelson

In running this nonprofit, O’Haire cites two main challenges. Firstly, everyone in the organization also works full-time jobs and have careers, so there are many difficult compromises that it must make. Secondly, there are always language barriers and cultural differences her team encounters when they visit Arusha. She cites their desire “to help people living across the world while not interrupting their cultural flow or offending anyone,” noting that this is not always easy.

Within the next five years, O’Haire hopes the organization continues its current trajectory. In the past year and a half, it has been able to send 18 children to school, so in five years, it would like to send around 50 or more kids. One of her favorite things about Team Nelson is the “one to one love” that they currently have. She wants to help as many kids as possible but also does not want the program to include thousands of kids that members of the organization have never met.

Addressing Systemic Issues in Tanzania

AIDS killed Nelson’s mother and alcoholism afflicted his father. His family alone represents a larger, systematic issue resulting in the death of many parents and caretakers in Tanzania, which has left about 3.1 million orphans in Tanzania. O’Haire cites this problem as one of the main reasons she and her team decided to create Team Nelson; “A lot of the problems in Tanzania revolve around offering more opportunities for education and helping the children further their lives with increased resources and tools.” She emphasizes the importance of sexual health education that children receive in school and the need for recurring doctor’s appointments.

If the government continues to receive pressure to employ more top-down approaches, she says, there will be drastic improvements in health and education. Fortunately, the Tanzanian government recently decided to make all lower-secondary education free in order to retain more students, as there are currently 1.5 million adolescents that are not in school.

Although it is quite difficult to live in rural Tanzania right now, O’Haire underscores the positivity of everyone she has met there. Prior to her trips there, she prepares herself to be the beacon of hope and energy that they may need but quickly reminds herself that Tanzanians are a happy group. In hard times, she reminds herself of the objectives of Team Nelson, which is sending children to school. She must often turn down requests but notes the importance of staying focused on her organization’s goals and trust in that impact.

If you would like to help Team Nelson and the orphans in Tanzania, O’Haire encourages a monthly donation of just $10, which directly contributes to getting children an education. In the case that providing a financial contribution is not possible, she hopes that “people will spread the word about this cause and really care about the problems our world is facing.”

To learn more, please visit https://www.weareteamnelson.com/.

– Jessica Haidet
Photo: Flickr

eight facts about education in tanzaniaComprised of what once were two separate states, Zanzibar and Tanganyika, Tanzania now sits in East Africa between Kenya and Mozambique after gaining independence from Britain in 1964. With a population of over 55 million people, Tanzania is the biggest and most populous East African nation. The following 8 facts about education in the United Republic of Tanzania will highlight problems students face in the pursuit of education. They will also map out efforts being made to ensure that students are able to access education.

8 Facts about Education in the United Republic of Tanzania

  1. Throughout the 1970s, a focus was placed on education. Universal primary schooling consisting of seven years was instated. Unfortunately, the demand for secondary school outweighs the budget allotment, and as a result, many parents have been forced to help sponsor said education.
  2. While there is little to no disparity between boys and girls enrolling in the mandatory primary schooling, just one-third of girls who enroll in secondary education will complete it. This may be a contribution to why 83.2 percent of males age 15 and over being able to read and write as opposed to the 73.1 percent of females at the same age level. Contributing factors to girls’ having restrictions on their educations include premature marriages, gender-based violence and financial hardships.
  3. Due to low literacy rates, the Tanzanian government has put a focus on adult education in addition to childhood education. Because of the success of these programs, adult literacy rates have improved drastically. While Tanzania’s literacy rates are still below the world average, in terms of African nations, it ranks above average.
  4. Another hindrance to children’s education in Tanzania is the lack of qualified teachers available to teach. UNICEF reports that for every 131 students, there is one qualified teacher. This leaves many students without access to the education they deserve.
  5. In addition to not having a sufficient number of teachers staffed in schools, many teachers are left without proper tools to teach adequately. Sixty-six percent of teachers say that they are not equipped with proper teaching supplies. Not providing teachers with the necessary tools to teach is a massive contributor to lower literacy rates.
  6. USAID is working to provide various services designed to increase student retention rates. The organization is working closely to address the restrictions that young girls face in order to let them continue their education. USAID is working in partnerships with the National Plan of Action to End Violence against Women and Children.
  7. With USAID’s involvement, an estimated 19,000 young girls will benefit and have increased support for their continued education. It is predicted that nearly 1.5 million students as a whole will see improvements in their reading, writing and math schooling by 2021. Increasing the quality of school materials will lead to massive change throughout the country.
  8. Another organization passionate about affording education to those in need in Tanzania is UNICEF. By 2021, UNICEF, along with the President’s Office Regional Administration and Local Government (PORALG), hopes to increase the availability of safe and inclusive access to basic education. With this plan, the hope is to provide even the most vulnerable young people in Tanzania with proper primary education.

While Tanzania, like many other countries, has room for improvement, these 8 facts about education in the United Republic of Tanzania show that there are strong efforts being made. With effective plans of action in place for the next few years, the future of education in Tanzania looks brighter.

– Emi Cormier
Photo: Flickr

Women in ZanzibarIn Zanzibar, a semi-autonomous region of Tanzania, many women struggle to overcome gender inequalities. Women are more likely to be illiterate, uneducated and unemployed in addition to being prevented from owning land and lacking opportunities to obtain leadership positions. Some women are fighting back against these barriers, however, by helping themselves and others increase their social and economic status. Furthermore, supporting female empowerment in Zanzibar has become a priority for a few local and national organizations.

The Situation for Women in Zanzibar

Women in Zanzibar are “twice as likely as men” to be uneducated. This has contributed to increasing employment inequalities since an education is becoming more essential to obtaining a job. Approximately 32 percent of female youths in Zanzibar are unemployed in comparison to only 10 percent of male youth. Women who do have jobs often earn less with 73 percent of women being paid at a lower rate than their husbands.

Additionally, only 16 percent of women in Zanzibar have bank accounts, and 91 percent do not own land, making it hard for women to become economically self-sufficient. When women do own land or other assets, these things are often controlled by their husband or male relatives. Female empowerment in Zanzibar involves women gaining financial and economic freedom as well as increasing their social status. The following are a few ways women’s lives in Zanzibar are improving.

Female Entrepreneurship

In response to high youth unemployment, many young women are turning to entrepreneurship as a way to make a living. At least 47 percent of women who are self-employed stated that their reason for doing so was the inability to find other employment. The majority of those who become interested in entrepreneurship are women with 82 percent of working women being self-employed. Self-employment and entrepreneurship offer women the opportunity to become financially independent, which is difficult in the low-paying formal sector.

Entrepreneurship is difficult, however, and many women who are self-employed still struggle economically. According to the Ministry of Labor, there are initiatives that support female entrepreneurs, but these do not reach all women. The most marginalized women do not have these opportunites. Moving forward, it is crucial that female entrepreneurs receive more support from the government and NGOs, otherwise, many will remain financially dependent on male relatives.

Seaweed Farming

For other women, seaweed farming has helped decrease economic inequalities and increase female empowerment in Zanzibar. In coastal villages, women have long been sequestered in their homes, only leaving for funerals, weddings or to care for sick relatives. Seaweed farming was taken up by women from these villages as a way to enter the public sphere and earn money for themselves.

According to marine biologist Flower Msuya, “At the beginning some husbands threatened divorce if their wives went out to farm seaweed… But, when they saw the money women were making, they slowly began to accept it.” Women’s social statuses in the villages have increased, and many have helped their families rise out of poverty. The work has also been crucial for women who were divorced from their husbands as they need to be able to support themselves.

Solar Training

Barefoot College, an organization that spread from India to East Africa, is offering a training program for women in Zanzibar, teaching grandmothers and single mothers in rural villages how to be solar engineers. The program focuses on this demographic of women because many are often illiterate and lack other opportunities. Solar training is also beneficial to the community as a whole since rural areas often lack adequate electricity.

Women are trained at Barefoot College for five months after which they return to their villages to set up solar lighting systems for family and neighbors. This is a cheaper option for most families, and the price they pay helps support the female engineers who help maintain the solar equipment in their village. Salama Husein Haja, a single mother, praised the program, stating, “When I go back I will have status. I will be knowledgeable and I will be proud.”

Reclaiming Public Spaces

A project in Zanzibar called Reclaim Women’s Space is working towards female empowerment in Zanzibar by helping women overcome cultural and religious constraints that require them to stay in the private sphere. There are few public places for women to gather socially in Zanzibar, so women generally go to work and then return home, in part because they are also responsible for domestic tasks.

Reclaim Women’s Space seeks to give women spaces in the public sphere where they can meet and work together to solve community problems. One of their projects was the creation of a community center, which has become a symbol of women’s economic, social and political power. Madina Haji, an engineer involved with the project stated that the goal is to “empower women to stand on their own” by improving their social status and giving them opportunities to come together.

It is crucial that initiatives such as these continue, and that women who are trying to obtain more autonomy are supported by local, national and international organizations and programs. Female empowerment in Zanzibar will take time to achieve, but persistent efforts to help these women become economically independent in a way that is also personally and socially empowering for them are an important part of making gender equality a reality.

Sara Olk
Photo: Flickr

HIV/AIDS in Tanzania

Despite tremendous scientific advances in the last thirty years to combat HIV, around 40 million people are still living with the virus. Over 70 percent of those with HIV worldwide live in Sub-Saharan Africa. Different countries have responded to the crisis with a variety of policies to prevent the virus from spreading and help those who already have it. Tanzania has been particularly successful in its efforts to mitigate HIV/AIDS, with an overall prevalence rate half that of Sub-Saharan Africa’s average. However, despite its many victories, there are still many barriers at work preventing these policies from eliminating the epidemic of HIV/AIDS in Tanzania.

Government Efforts

The government of Tanzania has introduced numerous policies to fight HIV/AIDS. For example, they have dramatically increased the number of locations where people can receive testing and counseling. Additionally, they are promoting public education campaigns to ensure people know where they can go to get tested.

Policies have been introduced to expand access to antiretroviral therapy (ART). Treatment to prevent mother-to-child transmission is now built into prenatal care across Tanzania. The Ministry of Health has distributed over 100 million condoms in an effort to prevent transmission of HIV. Furthermore, the government began a cash-transfer program in 2016. The program gives out small amounts of money to young people as long as they remained free of STIs to encourage safe sex habits among adolescents. Tanzania was also the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to implement a needle-exchange program to minimize the number of infections caused by sharing needles.

Positive Effects

The results of these policies regarding HIV/AIDS in Tanzania are clear. For instance, HIV incidence has been in steady decline since 1994. Also, AIDS-related deaths in Tanzania decreased by over 70 percent between 2005 and 2017. Nearly 93 percent of Tanzanians of all ages who know they have HIV are receiving ART. Additionally, 90 percent of people know where they can go to get tested and 84 percent of pregnant women who are HIV-positive are receiving treatment to prevent mother-to-child transmission.

HIV/AIDS and Gender Inequality

Overall, Tanzania paints itself as a huge success story in combating HIV/AIDS. However, gender inequality still poses a challenge to overcoming the disease entirely. Young girls routinely have sex with much older men who have had multiple previous sexual partners. As a result, they become more vulnerable to contract HIV.

The rate of HIV among women and girls is nearly three times that of men and boys. Furthermore, women usually do not have the social standing to negotiate safe sex practices with their partners. Other vulnerable populations also experience higher rates of HIV prevalence. For example, those who inject drugs and migrant populations. Stigma against those living with HIV also prevents policies from being maximally effective. This is because people are afraid of being socially ostracized for being tested and receiving treatment.

Work Still to be Done

For the battle against HIV/AIDS in Tanzania to be won, the country must work to remove the social stigma barring people from receiving the necessary treatment. It must also protect its most vulnerable populations, especially women and girls. Nonetheless, Tanzania’s forward-thinking policies have been very effective in decreasing the prevalence of HIV and AIDS-related deaths, and Tanzania continues to lead the fight to defeat the virus once and for all.

– Macklyn Hutchison
Photo: Flickr

Eight Facts About Education in Tanzania
After gaining independence in 1961, Tanzania’s government sought an advanced society for its population. The government’s attempt to grow a stable economy overlooked the estimated 85 percent illiteracy among its people. As a country with one of the largest young populations, these eight facts about education in Tanzania demonstrate how improvements to education have become a primary interest in public policy.

8 Facts About Education in Tanzania

  1. It is estimated that 5.1 million children between the ages of 7 and 17 are not in school. Primary school enrollment reached its peak of 86 percent in 2016, and in that same year, lower-secondary level school enrollment plummeted to a low of 33.4 percent. Many Tanzanian children do not experience a secondary education or vocational training. This leads to many children accepting jobs in hazardous conditions against the Tanzanian Law of the Child Act, which strictly defines and regulates prohibited tasks for children. Due to lack of enforcement of this act, 29.3 percent of children between the ages of five and 14 work in unsafe conditions in fields such as mining, quarrying and domestic work.
  2. The average yearly cost of an education in Tanzania totals 100,000 Tanzanian Shillings (TZS). This cost is equal to $50. However, with a national average salary of $22,662, many families cannot afford the fees that accompany their children’s education. These eight facts about education in Tanzania vividly depict poverty’s crucial role in receiving access to education. As of 2016, the poverty rate decreased to 26.8 percent, but an estimated 29 percent of students still live in households below the poverty line. In addition to school fees, parents must pay for uniforms, books and possibly transportation. Public secondary schools offer cheaper tuition as opposed to private schools, but additional schools fees can total up to $300 a year.
  3. Transportation to secondary school persists as an ongoing issue for millions of Tanzanian adolescents. Most of Tanzania’s population remains condensed in rural areas far away from secondary schools. Six people riding on one motorcycle to school lingers as a common image in some of these communities. Some students are able to receive housing at a boarding facility or private hostel by a school, while poorer families simply cannot make such sacrifice. This forces some students to walk or bicycle 20-25 kilometers, which usually takes more than an hour. Organizations such as The Tanzanian Education Fund (TEF), work with a board of organizational officers to manage the financial income for schools, review each school’s progress and fundraise for each school’s ongoing success. The TEF ensures that more than 465 students attending the Nianjema secondary schools in Bagamoyo, Tanzania have school buses through countless fundraising events.
  4. Adolescent girls in Tanzania are least likely to receive a secondary education. Research estimates that two out of every five girls in Tanzania marry before the age of 18. Within the population of married, secondary-school age girls, 97 percent are not in school due to marriage or pregnancy. Government policies also discriminate against pregnant and married girls by authorizing schools to expel them. Tanzania’s education regulations permit the expulsion of students when a student has committed what it considers an offense against morality. Many girls in Tanzania yearn to go back to school but encounter discriminating barriers like repeatedly contacting the school headmaster with no response. In addition, they must pay an $18-23 re-entry fee after pregnancy which ultimately deters them from returning.
  5. In 2010, Tanzania issued the Persons with Disabilities Act which guarantees the right to education and training services to children with disabilities. Today, disabled children still encounter barriers to attending primary school, and even fewer attend secondary school. Enrollment rates for disabled children dropped from 5,495 students to 5,328 students in 2013. Out of the 3,601 public secondary schools in Tanzania, only 75 schools accommodate children that require special needs education. Most of the students with disabilities do not have access to assistive devices like a wheelchair, cane or hearing aid. In other cases, few teachers receive training to teach children with learning disabilities. ADD International operates to fight global discrimination by influencing governments for change so every disabled person gets the best quality of life. Since partnering with Tanzanian activists in 2012, ADD International helped 1,404 children with disabilities enroll in primary school.
  6. The Primary School Learning Examination (PSLE) prevents 1.6 million students from entering secondary school each year. The average completion rate for primary students is 58.4 percent whereas fewer than 52 percent complete secondary school. Many of the schools in Tanzania do not prepare their students adequately for the national exam due to a lack of resources and poor student to teacher ratios. The average student to teacher ratio remains 59:1. Students in Tanzania receive only one opportunity to pass the exam as well.
  7. In 2015, the Tanzanian government eliminated the school fees required for all lower-secondary schools. The implementation of this practice emerged from Tanzania’s 2014 Education and Training policy which aims to improve the overall quality of education in Tanzania. As a result of the policy, secondary school enrollment in Tanzania has increased to 31.6 percent. The Tanzanian government’s goal to become a middle-income country by 2025 began with this significant change. The Tanzanian government made a commitment to provide free, compulsory basic education. This commitment coincided with a 12-year plan and a grant from The Global Partnership for Education (GPE)to strengthen its education system. By continuing to provide free education, skills in literacy and numeracy in Tanzania have improved exceptionally.
  8. By collaborating with the Tanzanian government, Project Concern International (PCI) makes strides in improving the infrastructure of countless schools in Tanzania. The organization, PCI, aids in lifting communities around the world out of poverty by enhancing health and ending world hunger. Studies show that only 62 percent of schools in Tanzania provide an improved water source. Eighty-four percent of the 2,697 primary schools in Tanzania goes without handwashing facilities. These conditions create an unsanitary environment for children and make them more susceptible to diseases like dysentery, diarrhea or an acute respiratory infection. Since 2011, PCI installed 191 water systems in primary schools, giving an estimated 103,456 students improved latrines.

In the end, these eight facts about education in Tanzania are improving with support from global organizations. Bringing attention to the government policies that restrict marginalized groups of students from receiving an education can commence change. Tanzania will experience sustained development as long as the government invests in its education system.

– Nia Coleman
Photo: Wikipedia Commons

Microlife CRADLE VSA Saves MothersRoughly 800 women die every day as a result of obstetric hemorrhaging, sepsis and pregnancy-related hypertension. The majority of these deaths occur in low-income areas that do not have the necessary tools to check a mother’s blood pressure and heart rate during or after childbirth.

In response, Professor Andrew Shennan and the CRADLE research team at King’s College London developed the CRADLE Microlife Vital Signs Alert (CRADLE VSA). The device features a “traffic light” early warning system that uses the traditional red, yellow and green colored lights. The user-friendly system indicates when a patient has pre-eclampsia or sepsis, even if the user has not undergone formal training.

CRADLE VSA relies on Shock Index, “the most reliable predictor of serious maternal adverse outcome. Appropriate thresholds for shock index were therefore incorporated into the traffic light algorithm, together with universally understood hypertensive thresholds, to trigger the coloured lights.” Several research studies have investigated the benefits of CRADLE VSA devices.

2013

A CRADLE research team found that over 90 percent of health clinics in a rural district of Tanzania lacked blood pressure devices. Often, the ones they did have were broken. The team provided 19 CRADLE VSA devices, containing tally counters to monitor use, to these clinics.

The CRADLE researchers conducted preintervention and postintervention studies over 12 months in three rural hospitals in Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Zambia. During the three-month preintervention phase, pregnant women who went to the hospital at twenty weeks gestation or more had their blood pressure measured twice with the validated CRADLE prototype device. The three-month intervention phase resulted in twenty rural and semirural peripheral antenatal clinics receiving one to two CRADLE prototype devices. They also received training sessions, instructions and a guide to referring based on blood pressure readings.

The researchers analyzed readings from 1,241 women (694 from the preintervention phase and 547 from postintervention). They discovered a link between the use of the device in these rural clinics and improved antenatal surveillance of blood pressure. They found a decrease in the proportion of women who never had their blood pressure measured in pregnancy from 25.1 percent to 16.9 percent.

April 2016

Researchers held a 20-month trial to determine the device’s efficiency. Over this time, new healthcare sites received the CRADLE VSA device every two months until 10 sites had the device. The goal of the trial was to determine the device’s ability to detect obstetric hemorrhaging, sepsis and hypertension and help providers reduce the number of deaths occurring during childbirth. In June 2016, researchers implemented the device in 10 low-income countries including Uganda, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia and Haiti.

June 2018

Studies showed that clinics in twelve countries across Africa, Asia and the Caribbean were using over 6,700 CRADLE VSA devices. A cluster randomized controlled trial in Mozambique, India and Pakistan used a prototype of the device in the intervention phase of pre-eclampsia. The trial enrolled a total of 75,532 pregnant women.

The CRADLE VSA saves lives by foreseeing the early diagnosis of pre-eclampsia. For many women, these health risks may have otherwise gone unnoticed. This innovation is contributing to the prevention of maternal deaths. This could help the world meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 3, “to reduce the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70,000 per 100,000 live births by 2030.”

– Sareen Mekhitarian
Photo: Upsplash

John OliverJohn Oliver, comedian and the host of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, is renowned for putting a comedic spin on recent news stories. Indeed, he has mocked everything from horses to cereal mascots to his own self-professed bird-like appearance. However, fans of Last Week Tonight know that he has a soft spot for the less fortunate and endeavors to help them. What they may not know, however, is that John Oliver also supports the Touch Foundation.

John Oliver’s Philanthropy

Fans of John Oliver will know that his penchant for philanthropy is nothing new. On his show, he has been known to do outrageous, often hilarious, things to help those in need. Sometimes, this comes in the form of a plea made from the set of Last Week Tonight. For example, during the 2017 French election, John ended an episode by switching to a film noir style and urging the people of France not to vote for the far right extremist candidate Marine Le Pen. Another time, he hired singer Weird Al Yankovic to sing an accordion-filled song begging North Korea not to nuke the U.S.

Sometimes, however, John Oliver’s contributions to helping people are much more tangible. For instance, his team created a children’s book called A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo. This book, which stars Vice President Mike Pence’s rabbit, supports the Trevor Project and AIDS United by allowing people to donate to one or both of those charities to receive a free ebook. The profits from sales of physical copies of the books also go towards those charities.

Another time, he bought several items from Russell Crowe’s The Art of the Divorce auction, including the jock strap from Cinderella Man, and donated them to one of the last remaining Blockbusters in the U.S. to help it keep its doors open. However, the fact that John Oliver supports the Touch Foundation financially was never mentioned in the show.

About the Touch Foundation

The Touch Foundation is an organization that seeks to improve healthcare in Tanzania. Healthcare in sub-Saharan Africa is lacking, as is evident by the fact that the life expectancy of the average adult is 20 years less than that of the average American. In fact, one in five children won’t even live to see his or her fifth birthday. Tanzania, in particular, suffers from an abysmal number of healthcare workers, a high rate of childbirth complications, limited access to basic healthcare services and many deaths from treatable and/or preventable diseases.

The Touch Foundation fights the poor healthcare in Tanzania by looking for flaws in the country’s healthcare system, bringing them to the attention of the Tanzanian government and obtaining funding for long-term programs that teach sustainable techniques for good health care. They do all of this by using institutions that already exist in Tanzania.

The Touch Foundation’s focus is spread across the healthcare system. One of their main goals is training new healthcare workers and helping existing ones improve. That way, access to healthcare will become much more widespread. They also target specific healthcare priorities that impact Tanzania the most, including maternal and newborn health, non-communicable diseases and cardiovascular health. On top of that, they send detailed reports of their results to their local and international partners.

The Touch Foundation’s Impact

The Touch Foundation has spent more than $60 million improving Tanzania’s healthcare system. This has resulted in better lives for 17 million Tanzanians (one-third of the people who live there). The Touch Foundation has trained more than 4,000 healthcare workers. For the ones who are still in training, 900 of them are housed in new and refurbished dormitories. Also thanks to Touch, the enrollment rate at the Weill Bugando Medical College has increased from 10 to 900 since 2004, and 96 percent of graduates remain within the healthcare system.

The Touch Foundation has helped reduce maternal deaths by 27 percent. The number of surgical centers at the Bugando Medical Centre has increased from 7 to 13, allowing for 30 percent more surgeries. The Touch Foundation has also worked to install electricity generators, water pumps, high-speed Internet, waste incinerators and laundry facilities at medical centers across Tanzania.

John Oliver is very outspoken about what he believes in. He will do ridiculous things for those who he feels needs his help. However, the fact that John Oliver supports the Touch Foundation is relatively obscure. Despite this, his contributions go to making Tanzania a better, healthier place to live. He doesn’t need to do something insane to show that he cares about Tanzania; his quiet contribution to the cause is enough.

Cassie Parvaz

Photo: Flickr