Information and stories on Tanzania

Malaria in Tanzania
Tanzania ranks among the top 10 countries in the world with the highest reported malaria cases and deaths. A survey by the Severe Malaria Observatory (SMO) revealed that 93% of Tanzania’s population lives in areas that are at high risk of malaria outbreaks. Transmission rates of malaria in Tanzania vary between regions and the country goes through seasons where it expects large spikes in the number of cases. The Star Homes Project is fighting malaria in Tanzania through improved housing.

Malaria in Tanzania

The U.N. describes malaria as a disease that “impoverishes families, households and national economies.” The economic impact of malaria is especially evident in Africa where an annual spend of $12 billion goes into addressing malaria outbreaks. Plasmodium falciparum, a unicellular protozoan parasite, is responsible for 96% of malaria cases in Tanzania. Vector mosquitoes transmit malaria to the human population by carrying the parasite.

Tanzania experiences three distinct malaria transmission seasons: stable perennial transmission, stable malaria transmission and unstable seasonal malaria transmission. Stable perennial transmission impacts 60% of the country, whereas stable malaria transmission and unstable seasonal malaria transmission impact 20% of the country at any given time in a year. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines perennial transmission as “transmission that occurs throughout the year with no great variation in intensity.”

Tanzania’s Malaria Burden

The WHO’s World Malaria Report 2021 identified that Tanzania accounted for 4.1% of global malaria-related deaths in 2020. The report also outlined that malaria in Tanzania accounted for 12.8% of reported cases in East and Southern Africa in 2020. The country adopted the Malaria National Strategic Plan (MNSP) in 2020 and the scheme is due to continue until 2025. The MNSP hopes to diagnose malaria more effectively and extend medical services to disadvantaged groups in the rural areas of Tanzania.

The Star Homes Project

The Star Homes Project began in 2018 under the management of the company Ingvartsen Artikekter. Ingvarsten oversees a cross-functional team of architects, physicians, entomologists and members of Tanzania’s local communities. The Star Home Project is fighting malaria in Tanzania by providing affordable and improved housing with effective ventilation and physical protective barriers that stop mosquitoes from entering Tanzanian homes and infecting inhabitants.

As of November 2022, the Star Homes Project built 110 homes across 55 villages in Mtwara, a rural settlement in Tanzania. The company’s homes feature a two-story structure and “permeable facades of sea green screening mesh” that blocks mosquito access. The design also includes self-closing doors that control ventilation and helps the house to maintain cool temperatures throughout the day. From 2022 to 2024, the Star Homes Project will complete trials that compare the health of children living in the Star Home to those living in their usual residences.

Estimates predict that sub-Saharan Africa will have a population of 1.1 billion people by 2050. Following these predictions, the Star Homes Project has identified the need to implement better health measures so that Tanzania’s current and future residents can safeguard themselves against highly transmittable diseases and respiratory infections.

Looking Ahead

Malaria continues to be a prevalent issue in Tanzania requiring extensive efforts to decrease the risk of infection during peak transmission seasons. However, the Star Homes Project offers an innovative housing solution that could assist Tanzania in reducing its high malaria rates and usher Tanzanians into a safer, disease-free era.

– Jennifer Preece
Photo: Flickr

Water Security in Tanzania
Tanzania’s economy, health and food security rely on the sustainable management of water resources. The United Nations has entrenched access to clean water and proper sanitation as a fundamental human right. However, this has not prevented the lack of water security in Tanzania, particularly in rural areas, from negatively impacting sectors like education and health care. On the positive side, efforts are ongoing to improve water security in the country.

5 Issues Affecting Water Security in Tanzania

  1. Changing Weather Patterns: According to forecasts, the average temperature in Southwest Tanzania could increase by 3 degrees Celsius by the end of the century, leading to higher evaporation rates and significantly affecting water availability.
  2. Mismanagement of Water Resources: Economic growth in Tanzania has prompted a growing demand for water. Yet, water management services fail to match this high level of demand, leaving 21 million citizens unable to access improved drinking water in 2017. In particular, this issue disproportionately affects poor rural districts.
  3. Poor Infrastructure: An estimated 80% of rural Tanzanians in rural areas use outmoded water and sanitation infrastructure such as pit toilets. A pit toilet is a type of toilet that collects human feces in a ground hole. These toilets typically do not have any lids to prevent groundwater pollution, thereby increasing the prevalence of water-related diseases. This lack of adequate toilet facilities also affects schools in the country. According to USAID in 2021, around 10% of menstruating girls in Tanzania drop out of school due to a lack of hygiene and sanitation facilities to properly and privately manage their menstruation.
  4. Health Impacts. Diarrhea-related diseases account for around 26,000 deaths due to the pathogen-infested water supply. Illnesses from the contaminated water have dire effects on education as school children lose as many as 33 million school days per annum. In 2015, only 17% of rural districts had access to sanitary water services. Additionally, according to reports, approximately 40% of the Tanzanian population has access to sanitary water services.
  5. Poor Hygiene: Tanzania only has a handful of public or private places where people can maintain proper hygiene practices, such as handwashing. While some places have handwashing areas, there is often no wash soap and non-contaminated water. Poor water, hygiene and sanitation services in Tanzania also significantly impact the health of school children as 84% of schools in the country lack access to handwashing facilities.

Improvement Efforts

From Jan. 4, 2016, to April 30, 2021, the U.S.-aided Water Resources Integration Development Initiative (WARIDI) intervened to combat the interconnected issues concerning water security in Tanzania. It collaborated with 20 local government authorities between the Wami-River and Rufiji River basins to drive the sustainable management of water resources. This included increased access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services. Basin water officers received training on interpreting data regarding sustainable and resilient water management. WARIDI used modern equipment that monitors the flow of water in various streams supplying major rivers.

WARIDI’s efforts created a succinct study of climate vulnerability that could be incorporated into its model for the efficient allocation of water resources. The organization aided in the establishment and development of 50 water infrastructure projects for 500,000 inhabitants across the Morogoro and Iringa regions of Tanzania in May 2021. The project provides access to potable water in rural regions, negating the need for 255,000 women to undertake perilous journeys to collect water.

Looking Ahead

Overall, WARID’s comprehensive approach to recognizing the importance of water conservation and maintenance of water infrastructure has played a significant role in alleviating issues related to water security in Tanzania. It has enhanced the living standards of many inhabitants through a variety of advanced water supply resources, including submergible pumps, solar panels, chlorine treatment divisions and valve chambers. The work is not yet complete as many Tanzanians still face significant challenges with accessing water. However, many positive results are visible from ongoing work and the situation continues to improve.

– Dami Kalejaiye
Photo: Flickr

HIV/AIDS Epidemic in Tanzania
UNAIDS data from 2021 shows that about 1.7 million people in Tanzania live with HIV. The prevalence rate of HIV among adults between 15 and 49 is about 4.5%. Despite these challenges, the country has progressed in increasing access to HIV testing and antiretroviral therapy in recent years. However, much work remains in addressing the underlying factors driving the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Tanzania, including poverty, gender inequality and stigma/discrimination against key populations.

Poverty and Aids in Tanzania

According to the World Bank, in 2018, almost 45% of the population survived on $2.15 or less daily. HIV/AIDS and poverty are closely linked as circumstances of poverty can increase the risk of HIV infection.

Poverty can limit access to education, health care and economic opportunities, making it more difficult for people to protect themselves from HIV and access HIV prevention and treatment services. People living in poverty are also more likely to experience malnutrition and an HIV infection can worsen these preexisting conditions.

The disease disproportionately affects adolescent and adult females in the country — this group makes up about 80% of new HIV infections in Tanzania. Tanzania’s objective is to achieve “HIV epidemic control by 2030,” and with the aid of international charities and foreign aid, Tanzania is making progress toward this goal.

NGOs Addressing the HIV/AIDS Epidemic in Tanzania

The Elizabeth Glaser Paediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) is a nonprofit organization working to improve the lives of children living with HIV/AIDS for more than 30 years. Its focus on prevention, care and treatment is crucial in the fight against HIV/AIDS, especially in Tanzania where “Tanzania has the third-highest number of HIV-positive children in sub-Saharan Africa,” the nonprofit’s website says.

EGPAF-Tanzania is currently enabling more than 120,000 HIV-positive adults and more than 6,500 children in Tanzania with access to antiretroviral treatment. Over the last year, EGPAF has provided HIV testing to close to 500,000 Tanzanians and has identified more than 22,000 newly detected HIV cases. Additionally, EGPAF has provided more than 5,000 pregnant females with treatments to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission.

Frameworks and Foreign Aid

In December 2022, President Samia launched Tanzania’s fifth Multisectoral National Strategic Framework for HIV and AIDS. Under this strategy, Tanzania seeks to align with UNAIDS’s vision of “zero new infection, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related death” by 2026. The world target is to reach the three zeros by the year 2030.

Tanzania is also heavily reliant on external financing, and the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which came into effect in 2003, is the “largest commitment by any nation to address a single disease in the world.” As of 2022, the U.S. government has invested $5.4 billion in “bilateral HIV efforts” and $1.6 billion in “multilateral efforts,” which includes $50 million for UNAIDS and $1.56 billion for the Global Fund.

Next Steps

Tanzania has made significant progress in reaching the UNAIDS 95-95-95 targets, which aim to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic by 2030. The targets aim to have 95% of people living with HIV diagnosed, 95% of those diagnosed on antiretroviral therapy (ART) and 95% of those on ART with suppressed viral loads.

According to UNICEF, Tanzania’s progress toward the 95–95–95 national goal for 2022 stood as follows: 83% of people with HIV knew their status, 95% of people living with HIV received treatment and 92% of people on treatment experienced viral suppression.

Looking Ahead

Knowing one’s HIV status is critical for accessing treatment and preventing the transmission of the virus to others. With more people living with HIV in Tanzania aware of their status, more individuals can receive the care and support to manage their conditions and prevent the further spread of the virus.

However, it is important to note that there are still individuals in Tanzania who are living with HIV and are unaware of their status. Efforts need to continue to increase HIV testing and encourage individuals to get tested regularly. Additionally, there is a need to address the barriers that may prevent some individuals from getting tested, such as stigma and discrimination.

Overall, while Tanzania has made significant progress, the country must continue to take action in this sector. However, Tanzania is on course to reach the UNAIDS 95-95-95 objectives by 2025. The Tanzanian government can better control the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Tanzania with the aid of groups like the Elizabeth Glaser Paediatric AIDS Foundation.

– Lauryn Defreitas
Photo: Flickr

Remittance in Tanzania
Tanzanian-born Benjamin Fernandes sought to improve the remittance economy with Nala – a pioneering consumer payment platform. Utilizing USSD technology found in feature phones, NALA does not require internet connectivity for access and its design aims to reduce user data costs. NALA is the first East African company to receive acceptance into Y-Combinator and, in 2018, it won three awards in Africa: EcoBank Africa Fintech Challenge, AppsAfrica Disruptive Innovation Award and the SeedStars Best Startup in Tanzania. This innovative and revolutionary platform is making waves in the African tech scene and changing the remittance economy.

Revolutionizing the Way People Manage Finances

NALA is revolutionizing the way people in Tanzania and in Africa manage their finances. Launched in 2018, the company initially focused on helping Tanzanians and Ugandans manage their financial well-being. Over time, the company pivoted to become a money transfer application for the African diaspora. Now, NALA is available in five countries – Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and Ghana – and is continuously expanding to other parts of the world.

To date, NALA has helped more than 8,000 customers with transactions of more than eight figures, making it an invaluable resource for those looking to send money to Africa.

NALA, the Tanzania-based fintech startup, has just secured a whopping $10 million in funding to expand its operations across the African continent. This sizable investment comes from “top angel investors like the creators of Monzo, Robinhood, Alloy and Deel and Peeyush Ranjan, the head of Google Payments who also joined in on the investment.”

In 2022, NALA launched a crowdfunding campaign to give its early adopters a chance to purchase shares in the company. This ambitious move shows just how committed NALA is to becoming a leading fintech player in Africa. The potential for growth in Africa’s fintech sector is enormous, and NALA’s bold move to secure such a large funding round is a sign that it is well-positioned to capitalize on this potential. With the backing of some of the world’s top angel investors, NALA is sure to make waves in Africa’s fintech space in the coming years.

Shaking Up the Remittance Economy

NALA is shaking up the remittance market with its innovative solution. With Wise, Remitly and SendSprint dominating the market, NALA takes it one step further by giving its users flexibility and full control over the remittances they send to Africa. According to the World Bank, “the average transfer fee to Africa is estimated at 9% – that’s $3.3 billion out of the $48 billion sent to sub-Saharan Africa last year.” NALA has set out to reduce this fee and bring transparency to the costs of remitting money to Africa, by offering its users low and transparent transfer costs.

NALA, as of December 2022, has expanded to more than 19 European countries as part of its mission to financially empower African people across the world. It is offering an easy and cost-effective way for customers to send remittances from Europe to African countries through this move.

The World Bank estimates that, on average, the cost of sending remittances from European countries like Italy, France and Germany is between 3% and 7%, with the entire process taking up to two days. With NALA, it is a simple and fast process that actually saves money. The expansion has had a significant impact on the 11 million African migrants living in Europe by providing them with more options for remittance payments.

Breaking the Barriers

NALA has built a unique platform that breaks the barriers to its customers’ accessing payments. The app is able to offer users a convenient way to send money, whether it is for a few dollars or thousands. NALA offers “full control over your remittances” and its service is available at the time and date of your choice. NALA aims to achieve a revolution in the workings of the remittance system through its innovative solution.

– Frida Sendoro
Photo: Flickr

Tanzania’s Investment in Secondary Schools
HIV prevalence in Tanzania accounted for 4.8% among people aged 15-49 in 2019. HIV/AIDS’s consequences in a developing country can be devastating, leading to more deaths, slowed economic growth and further misery. HIV and poverty share a critical connection, both acting as the cause and the outcome of one another. The virus poses a more lethal and dangerous threat to the economically vulnerable part of the population that might not always have access to food, medicines and proper health care services. Tanzania has invested in an initiative called Education Plus to eliminate HIV in the country. Tanzania’s investment in secondary schools should fight HIV by ensuring education for girls and young women.

HIV and Education

Sub-Saharan Africa is considered the epicenter of the disease, with 69% of the HIV-positive world’s population living in the region. Another critical characteristic of the epidemic is its relationship with education, where less educated groups tend to be more vulnerable to contracting the disease.

Tanzania’s investment in secondary schools to fight HIV is a plan that will further develop through the country’s commitment to Education Plus. The initiative is the result of the combined efforts of UNAIDS, UNESCO, UNICEF, U.N. Women and others to fight and prevent HIV through the empowerment of adolescent girls and women in sub-Saharan African countries. Their strategy aims to achieve gender equality with secondary education as a central focus. Tanzania became the 13th African country to join Education Plus.

The Background

In Tanzania, over the last 12 years, the number of HIV infections dropped by almost half and the number of deaths decreased from 52,000 to 27,000 in 2019. Nevertheless, in 2019 the country has seen the number of HIV-positive individuals amount to 1.7 million. Evidence shows a considerable vulnerability in women to develop the infection.

Younger groups between the age of 15 and 24 represent one of the most prominent groups of new infections, making up 30% of the newly infected population, UNAIDS reported. According to UNICEF, the disease does not exist equally across the country, with a prevalence mainly in the southern areas.

The mainly affected population are people injecting drugs, men who entertain sexual relationships with other men, female sex workers, transgender individuals and prisoners. Studies show that crucial contributors to virus transmission are younger age, lack of education, alcohol use and the number of sexual partners.

Socio-economic Backgrounds

Tanzania’s poverty rate was 26.4% in 2018 and HIV is a disease that tends largely affects those coming from lower socio-economic backgrounds.

According to a report from the National Education Profile in 2018, 61% of females aged 14-19 in Tanzania were out of school compared to 51% of males from the same age group. According to UNAIDS, sub-Saharan Africa has the highest rate of child marriage and teenage pregnancy. Such aspects are definitive in keeping young women out of education and about 27% of girls aged between 15 and 19 in Tanzania are either pregnant or already have a child. As of 2019, adolescents and young women constituted 24% of new cases worldwide in sub-Saharan Africa.

Before joining the UNAIDS initiative, Tanzania was already making progress in tackling the issue with the revision of the HIV and AIDS Act, which now permits self-made HIV testing and has lowered the age of consent to take the test.

Education Plus

Research shows that secondary education has a significant role in the reduction of the risk of HIV/AIDS infection. Access to education leads young women to pay more attention to matters of sexual and reproductive health and it allows them to become economically independent later in life and ensure higher incomes for the future. It also decreases the risk of them becoming child brides and teenage mothers.

The initiative Education Plus began with the focus of helping achieve gender equality, ensuring free and good secondary education for all women by 2025 in sub-Saharan African countries. The plan consists of encouraging decision-makers to raise and expand investments and efforts on instructions and teachings for girls and young women. Such measures aim to prevent HIV and offer major social and economic benefits, including to those who already have contracted the virus, UNAIDS reported on its website.

Not only does the initiative give young women the opportunity to complete secondary education, but it also offers “universal access to comprehensive sexuality education, fulfillment of sexual and reproductive health and rights, freedom from gender-based and sexual violence, school-to-work transition and economic security and empowerment,” according to UNAIDS website.

The project relies on the help of influential U.N. leaders and partners and their role as advocates for the education of young girls to encourage further action and investment in the cause. Education Plus is the ideal approach to facilitate Tanzania’s investment in secondary schools to fight HIV.

The country’s high secondary school dropout rate is a risk factor in the development and spread of an epidemic that needs significant attention and intervention.

The Relationship Between Poverty and HIV

The socioeconomic status of people infected with HIV has a significant role in their living conditions. Many of the situations associated with the risk of contracting the virus are the consequences of coming from a disadvantaged background, such as a lack of access to decent food, housing, safety and the need to exchange sex for basic necessities.

HIV also has a negative impact on the socioeconomic state of a population. Poor health conditions can impact an individual’s ability to work and function independently, and according to research, the unemployment rate of those living with HIV/AIDS goes from 45% to 65%, according to the American Psychological Association (APA).

Looking Ahead

Despite the country still being a lower-middle income economy, Tanzania’s financial status is growing and has been so for the last decade. One of the key battles to win in order to ensure the economic reprise of Tanzania is through a strategy that allows for its population to have good health and work at their full potential.

Tanzania’s investment in secondary schools to fight HIV is not only an investment to fight and defeat a fatal disease responsible for 32,000 deaths in 2020, but also to build a country characterized where gender equality and strong economic performance are a reality.

– Caterina Rossi
Photo: Flickr

Schistosomiasis in Tanzania
The World Health Organization (WHO) considers schistosomiasis “a disease of poverty.” Schistosomiasis is categorized as a neglected tropical disease (NTD) as it primarily affects tropical locations “where people do not have access to clean water or safe ways to dispose of human waste.” Schistosomiasis is “highly endemic” in Tanzania — it has the second highest number of cases in sub-Saharan Africa behind Nigeria. As a result, efforts are underway to help counter the spread of this disease.

The Background

Schistosomiasis, more commonly known as bilharzia, is an infectious disease that affects around 240 million individuals globally, according to WHO. After malaria, bilharzia is the second most devastating illness that parasites cause, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says. WHO says “infection is prevalent in tropical and sub-tropical areas, in poor communities without potable water and adequate sanitation.”

A person can become infected when the skin comes into contact with freshwater contaminated with Schistosoma parasites. More significant signs of infection, such as fever and muscle aches, begin within one or two months. “Symptoms of schistosomiasis are caused by the body’s reaction to the eggs produced by worms, not by the worms themselves,” the CDC says. This immune reaction can cause damage to the organs and bring about other health issues.

There are two main forms of the disease: intestinal and urogenital. Children who become infected with these parasites several times “can develop anemia, malnutrition and learning difficulties.” Furthermore, “after years of infection, the parasite can also damage the liver, intestine, lungs and bladder,” according to the CDC.

Chronic schistosomiasis arises when the parasites remain in the body for a long time and the body produces immune responses against the parasitic eggs once they reach body tissue. Cases of chronic schistosomiasis in Tanzania are common and may limit people’s capacity to work.

Past and Current Epidemiology

During the 70s and 80s, Tanzania noted a pressing need to build new irrigation systems and dams to provide clean water for the growing population. However, these innovations had a negative effect on the expansion of the disease since schistosome parasites that live inside snails grow optimally in fresh water. Furthermore, the prevalence of the disease seems to rise as the country’s population size expands. In Tanzania, in 1977, the prevalence rate stood at 19% but swelled to 51.5% (more than 23 million people) by 2012. In 2019, around 15 million people in Tanzania required treatment for schistosomiasis in Tanzania.

Efforts to Tackle Schistosomiasis in Tanzania

WHO recommends “large-scale treatment of at-risk population groups, access to safe water, improved sanitation, hygiene education and snail control” to adequately address schistosomiasis. WHO endorsed treatment for the disease involves the administration of an anti-parasite drug known as praziquantel. In Tanzania, praziquantel is distributed on a large scale to schools and communities.

According to WHO, Tanzania received approximately 33 million praziquantel treatments for mass administration from 2009 to 2018, with a focus on school children.

Thanks to the Zanzibar Elimination of Schistosomiasis Transmission (ZEST) program, which took place from 2011 to 2017, the prevalence of the disease was reduced. Among children aged 9-12, prevalence decreased from 6.1% to 1.7%, while among adults aged 20-55, prevalence decreased from 3.9% to 1.5% by 2017. This successful project, launched by the Zanzibar government, mainly focused on the distribution of praziquantel twice a year, snail control measures and behavioral adjustments among the populace.

However, knowledge about the disease and how to prevent or treat it is integral for reducing future cases. Many people still do not have access to treatment and others prefer not to take the treatment due to a lack of information. This, added to the fact that one can become reinfected, shows why control is difficult. For example, in Mtama, a city that belongs to the Lindi region in Tanzania, the prevalence of the disease is still more than 50%. This is due to a lack of knowledge, interrupted access to praziquantel and unhygienic water practices, among other reasons.

WHO Guideline

In February 2022, WHO released a guideline for the control of schistosomiasis in affected nations. The guideline covers several evidence-based recommendations, including:

  • Snail control measures to decrease transmission risks.
  • Water, sanitation and hygiene efforts in approaches to control the disease.
  • The “expansion of preventive chemotherapy to all in need, including adults and preschool-aged children.”

Schistosomiasis in Tanzania is still a problem that affects a large part of the population, despite the control systems implemented throughout the years. In a country with a population of about 58 million in 2019, 15 million people required treatment for this disease. Implementing comprehensive measures will safeguard the well-being of citizens in an endemic country.

– Carla Tomas
Photo: Flickr

Malaria in TanzaniaTanzania is a high-risk country with 4.1% of global malaria-related deaths in 2020. While 93% of the Tanzanian population resides in malaria transmission areas, researchers are working to address the country’s current malaria epidemic.

Plasmodium falciparum is the most common form of malaria contracted in Tanzania, accounting for 96% of infections. While previous preventative measures such as insecticide-treated nets and indoor residual spraying have not been completely successful when combating high malaria cases, many researchers in Tanzania believe genetically modifying mosquitos shows promise.

How Do Genetically Modified Mosquitos Work?

The transmission of malaria is a cycle between humans and mosquitos. After mosquitos ingest parasites from human blood, those parasites mate in the mosquito’s gut and infect the next bit human. Genetically modified mosquitos, or GMMs, could potentially stop parasites from reproducing in a mosquito’s gut and prevent the parasites from spreading malaria when feeding on human blood. GMMs are mosquitos that have had genes modified to prevent the transmission of malaria and dengue.

There are two types of modifications that researchers have utilized to address high malaria numbers: population suppression and population replacement. Population suppression is a strategy that aims to reduce the mosquito vector population so pathogen transmission rates decrease. Population replacement focuses on modifying mosquitos, so they no longer have the ability to transfer malaria or dengue pathogens.

When GMMs are set free into the natural environment, the goal is that they pass mutations on to other mosquitos through reproduction and disrupt female mosquito fertility.

Potential Modifying Approaches

The self-limiting approach relies on recurring releases of GMMs without the malaria-causing gene in hopes that they will pass the modification to future mosquito generations through natural mating. However, some researchers are modifying mosquitoes to be sterile, meaning they’ll be unable to pass the mutation to offspring. They will die before the malarial parasites are infectious.

As the effectiveness of self-limiting approach modifications decreases, researchers will need to re-release GMMs periodically. One benefit of this strategy is that researchers can reverse the impact of GMMs by suspending future releases.

A self-sustaining approach is more invasive as this strategy works to ensure the modifications pass through natural breeding indefinitely. The modification will transmit pathogens permanently or until the mosquito population ceases. Minor GMM releases will be necessary but on a smaller scale compared to the self-limiting approach.

However, self-sustaining strategies are more difficult to reverse as researchers design the modifications to remain stable within the mosquito population.

Theoretical Advantages

GMM technologies have addressed issues that previous disease control strategies have had difficulty preventing. By releasing GMMs, they can transmit the modifications to hard-to-reach breeding sites. With this method, researchers in Tanzania rely on the natural behaviors of GMMs.

While nets and indoor residual spraying might fail to prevent mosquitos from escaping control methods, GMM technologies can expand modifications to those mosquito populations. In addition, implementing a concrete plan to target only mosquito vector populations will prevent the usual environmental hazards experienced when using broad pesticides.

One of the most important advantages is that the effects of GMMs are not reliant on social or economic factors. As a result, people residing in areas with GMM treatments receive protection from vector-borne diseases without the need to make unaffordable lifestyle changes. With fewer malarial infections, people living in poverty can focus on improving other aspects of their life rather than health issues.

Current Limitations and Uncertainties for the Future

As the research and implementation of GMMs are relatively new, researchers in Tanzania have a few concerns.

One issue is relying on GMMs to carry mutations to hard-to-reach larval breeding areas. It is difficult to verify that a male GMM has passed the mutation onto the female mosquito. Tracking the results of GMMs in the wild can be difficult, especially with the self-sustaining approach. GMMs can evolve to build a resistance to mutations or lose efficiency as time goes on.

Some scientists at the World Health Organization have questioned how implementing GMMs impacts “human health, animal health, biodiversity and water quality.” As a result, there is a need for more research to address risk assessment and risk planning to determine whether the benefits outweigh the cons.

– Mikada Green
Photo: Flickr

Addressing Tree Inequality is Key to Achieving the SDGs
People surviving on less than $1.90 daily live in extreme poverty, which accounts for 9.2% of the global population in line with a 2021 World Vision report. With worldwide disruptions to economic activity amid the COVID-19 pandemic, progress against global inequality is continuously under threat, especially as 97 million more individuals fell into extreme poverty in 2020 the World Bank testified. A 2020 ForestNation report has revealed a causal relationship between tree canopy and income, stating a clear association between high income and green-rich areas. One can see this trend on the island of Montreal, highlighting an apparent discrepancy between the prosperous Town of Mount Royal and a low-income neighborhood, Parc-Extension.

According to a 2021 CBC News Analysis of City of Montreal and Census Data, the average household income for the former accounts for $110,000, equating to 30% tree cover. Meanwhile, the latter assumes a median income ranging from $32,000 to $40,000 with only 6%-15% tree cover.

Addressing Tree Inequality is Key to Achieving the SDGs

Planting trees in both rural and urban areas strengthens the world’s economic systems by introducing new opportunities for employment and trade. The timber sector validates this, generating worldwide economic contributions worth $600 billion, equivalent to 1% of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP), while also providing a total of 54.2 million formal and informal employment opportunities as per the World Bank.

According to the Global Assistance Report, trees provide valuable nutritional support necessary for eradicating food insecurity. One billion of the world’s population relies on forests to secure food, with women and children resembling an unprecedented share. This illustrates how addressing tree inequality is key to achieving the SDGs via reducing inequality and hunger and improving human welfare, livelihood and food security.

Trees help improve agriculture by creating an environment favorable for growing crops. By regulating the temperature and improving moisture, trees reduce soil salinization and make crops less sensitive to weather fluctuations and especially violent winds. Recognizing that agriculture assumes an essential role in enhancing worldwide economic development, accounting for 4% of global GDP according to the World Bank, this highlights one way how addressing tree inequality is key to achieving the SDGs by attaining economic growth and improved standards of living.

UNICEF defines quality education as access to rudimentary literacy and numeracy skills for every human irrespective of one’s origin. ForestNation shows that planting trees can improve a student’s cognition and linguistic, scientific and mathematical proficiency. Trees can widen students’ knowledge of environmental and ecological matters, as well as spark curiosity and innovation amongst them, which illustrates the positive ramifications of expanding access to trees in education.

Positive Work Across the Globe

Several organizations have launched various worldwide efforts to lead reforestation. Since 2015, ForestNation, a for-profit sustainable business, has aided Tanzania in planting trees across the country. Today, the number of trees that the business planted exceeds 1 million, which brings eminent contributions to Tanzania’s wealth. For example, every 100 fully grown fruit-bearing trees including mangos and bananas generate around $173 in income. Knowing that agriculture represents one-quarter of Tanzania’s GDP, indicates significant economic development within the country.

In Morocco, the country sought to lead an initiative to overcome the country’s susceptibility to drought, collaborating with civil society, the government aims to plant 800,000 trees by 2024 in varying parts of the country. Such a partnership aims to reinforce the agricultural sector’s strength and provide food sources necessary for socioeconomic development, particularly since agriculture assumes 30% of Morocco’s employment and 20% of GDP.

To build inclusive development among rural and urban areas across Turkmenistan, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) aided a tree planting campaign on the national level. Following training sessions that USAID funded, and with support from several local community, private sector and administrator representatives, around 5,000 fruit-bearing tree seedlings have undergone implementation in two different project areas. Such a sustainable endeavor plays an important role in developing Turkmenistan’s agriculture and widens its income sources according to the UNDP.

Overall, tree equality has proven effective in enabling the world to stay on track to achieving the SDGs by 2030, as the positive impact of trees can trickle down from addressing poverty to other SDGs.

– Noor Al-Zubi
Photo: Flickr

Education for Pregnant StudentsThe African Court on Human and People’s Rights had to make a pivotal decision regarding the right to education for pregnant students in Tanzania. On November 19, 2020, Equality Now and Tike Mwabipile, executive director of Tanzania Women Lawyers Association (TAWLA), filed a joint application to the African Court on Human and People’s Rights to abolish a discriminatory ban. Three human rights groups, the Initiative for Strategic Litigation in Africa (ISLA), Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Women’s Link Worldwide (WLW), joined the application as joint amici. This application is in direct response to the discriminatory ban in Tanzania, whereby the government of Tanzania is disregarding the rights of females who are pregnant, married or mothers.

The Discriminatory Ban and Joint Amicus

The discriminatory ban in question has been in practice for decades across Tanzania, but in 2017, former president John Magufuli introduced an official ban against the education of pregnant girls, married girls or mothers, stressing immorality as reasoning. The ban draws its power from the Tanzania Education Act, which states that expulsion for a student is deemed necessary when they have “committed an offense against morality.”

Tanzania’s current and first female president, Samia Suluhu Hassan, who stepped into her role in March 2021 after Magufuli’s death, has made it her mission to incentivize the progression of women’s rights in Tanzania and distance herself from the controversial policies of the previous presidency.

The three human rights organizations, attempt to highlight the injustices that have come to fruition as a result of the discriminatory ban and to prioritize the need for education for pregnant students in their joint amicus, which highlights:

“Tanzania’s international and human rights obligations to guarantee the freedom from discrimination; to prevent and respond to violence against girls, including in school settings; and to safeguard the sexual and reproductive health and rights of girls and young women.”

This legal endeavor represents one of the many collective efforts for women’s rights progression in Tanzania in recent times. The discrepancy in policy regarding Tanzania’s education laws appears to represent a significant obstacle to overcome on the road toward progress.

However, in November 2021, Tanzania announced that it would make a critical step toward safeguarding the right to education by lifting the ban. Human Rights Watch says Tanzania has “recently removed restrictive policies, but [has] a policy gap,” indicating that this supposed breakthrough may have more effect on paper as opposed to in practice.

Tanzania’s History of Educational Subordination

Tanzania as a nation has a long and troubled history in regard to the education of women and young girls. Several core aspects of its education policy are founded on the decisions of a fundamentally patriarchal government in the 1960s, after the nation’s official independence from Great Britain in 1961.

These prior actions have resulted in a situation where, today, across Tanzania, the guarantee of education for pregnant students is far from a reality. According to a 2013 report by the Center for Reproductive Rights, a large percentage of schools across Tanzania interpret the act of pregnancy for students as immoral.  This has manifested as a situation that sees student dropout numbers at an alarming number according to figures provided by the World Bank in 2021: “More than 120,000 girls drop out of school every year in Tanzania. 6,500 of them because they are pregnant or have children.”

The 2013 report also noted a widespread belief within the education system in mainland Tanzania that expulsion is mandatory if a student is pregnant. However, the report found that there is in fact no legal mandate for expulsion, and on the contrary, according to the World Bank, “Tanzanian laws and policies promote and protect adolescent girls’ rights to education, health, nondiscrimination and privacy.”

Due to the widespread misconception in Tanzania that expulsion is legally necessary for pregnant students, and with standardized pregnancy tests standing as common practice within the education system, societal norms instilled by previous presidencies shape and control the educational rights of thousands of young girls.

The lifting of the ban not only leads to legal progress within Tanzania but also upholds the rights of women across the nation.

– James Garwood
Photo: Flickr

Sunflower Production in Tanzania
Tanzania is among the top 10 nations producing the most sunflower oilseed with an output of 350,000 tons per year. Sunflower oilseed has many commercial uses — it can be used as an ingredient in cosmetic products as well as medicines and can serve as a cooking oil. According to a research paper, in 2013, the national sunflower trade produced 32% of Tanzania’s edible cooking oil. This trade also provides 35% of Africa’s and 2.4% of the world’s sunflower production. Small-scale farmers dominate sunflower production in Tanzania — about 24 million residents engaged in the industry in 2016. As such, sunflower production in Tanzania has the potential to improve the welfare and livelihoods of low-income households.

The Sunflower Industry in Tanzania

Because the flower grows well in a dry land where other crops cannot, this plant is grown across the nation. However, there are obstacles that prevent farmers from benefiting from the full potential of sunflower production, resulting in lower quality and productivity of the plant, and thus, low return on investment. These include inadequate farming machinery and restricted access to value-added markets and services.

A 2020 research paper stated that the gross profit margin of sunflower farming in the Iramba district of Tanzania is $18.71 per acre with a Return on Investment of 16% per acre. However, in its poverty analysis, the study found that income from sunflower farming could not meet the international poverty line of $1.90 per day, equating to daily per capita earnings of only $0.07, which falls significantly short. Therefore, although sunflower production in the Iramba district remains a popular trade, 52% of households in the district live in poverty, earning an average of 85,125Tsh per month ($38.5 monthly).

Involving Women and Youth

The Tanzanian government has encouraged the involvement of women and youth in sunflower commercialization through government policy to provide more opportunities in the workforce and alleviate poverty among these groups. However, other factors limit their ability to fully participate in this market, such as a lack of financial capital and restricted access to land.

As Future Agricultures stated that “Land access problems among women and youth in Tanzania are, for instance, largely the result of cultural restrictions on the ownership of ancestral land. Regarding financial capital, women and youth cannot access loans from commercial banks because of their low ownership of assets used by banks as collateral.”

This results in stark contrast of participation and productivity levels across age and gender. Only 22% of young farmers take part in sunflower production in Tanzania as opposed to 78% of older farmers. Although a high percentage of female-led households are participating in sunflower farming, only a fraction of these households include young female farmers. In addition, older female farmers sell significantly fewer quantities of sunflowers as opposed to older male farmers, at 65% and 71% respectively.


The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) has been working in collaboration with Tanzania’s Ministry of Industry and Trade since 2012 to reform the nation’s agro-industry and strengthen the value of local goods, including sunflower oil, in the national and international markets.

UNIDO international experts working together with national consultants have provided enterprises with diagnostic services and aid in upgrading and modernizing the production process. This includes business consults that advise producers to form clusters and jointly invest in marketing actions and storage facilities that will result in higher competitiveness and productivity. In addition, UNIDO is collaborating with various organizations to increase access to modern machinery.

However, to reach and assist women and young farmers in this trade, it is evident that policymakers in Tanzania must support policies that increase resource access among these groups, specifically agricultural land and financial capital.

Looking Ahead

Sunflower production in Tanzania is a popular trade with great potential. However, the country must take additional steps to significantly lower levels of poverty in the nation. Farmers are unable to receive the full benefits of this crop due to outdated machinery and limited access to lucrative markets. Women and young farmers in particular face greater obstacles when joining the trade. However, by working to improve resource access, sunflower productivity and competitiveness can increase and begin to lift many households out of poverty.

– Kimberly Calugaru
Photo: Flickr