Information and stories on Tanzania

poverty reduction through microloans

Poverty reduction through microloans has been a successful strategy in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa. Between 2007 and 2016, Tanzania’s poverty rates have decreased from 34.4% to 26.8%. Consequently, microloans have become a necessity for low-income earners whose businesses are apart of informal sectors.

MYC4 is an online platform that helps individuals loan money to small enterprises in sub-Saharan Africa. Mads Kjaer, its chief executive, describes the importance of microcredit by stating how “people need access to capital to grow their informal and formal businesses that offer them a regular income and enable them to lead decent lives.”

As a result, governments now appreciate the impact of microfinance. They are encouraging investments by opening up the industry to foreign capital and improving policing mechanisms for customer protection. With micro and small enterprises making up approximately 32% of Tanzania’s GDP, microcredit strategies have played an essential role in reducing poverty through progressive business approaches.

New Microfinance Act in Tanzania

In 2018, the parliament of the United Republic of Tanzania passed a Microfinance Act that illustrates the framework under which microfinance institutions operate. The Act allows for enhanced regulation of the microfinance sector for the mainland of Tanzania and Zanzibar. But with only 16% of Tanzania’s population banked, 27% is financially excluded. Microfinance options and the accessibility of mobile money have expanded financial inclusion to nearly half of Tanzania’s population. For example, as of 2017, financial NGOs, mobile money and microloan providing institutions served 48.6% of the population.

Nonprofits that are Helping

Opportunity Tanzania, a nonprofit organization that provides loans, savings, and insurance to impoverished entrepreneurs, has helped over 3,625 clients in Dar Es Saalam. Its microfinancing services provide entrepreneurs and their families with a path out of poverty. Only 20% of Tanzania’s population has access to a formal bank within an hour’s walking distance of their home. Therefore, Opportunity Tanzania is now working to build a regulated bank that will offer clients savings products and provide them with a secure place to store their money.

The International Labour Organization [ILO], in collaboration with the UN joint program on Youth Employment, established a five-day training program for financial service providers to create outreach strategies that will educate youth on microfinance resources.

High population growth and substantial poverty are still present in Tanzania. However, the expansion of microloan services play a crucial role in supporting entrepreneurs and creating more job opportunities for youth. In short, poverty reduction through microloans is an important avenue for growth in Tanzania.

Erica Fealtman
Photo: Unsplash

Tourism's Impact on Reducing Poverty
Within the past decade, international travel to developing countries has risen substantially. Countries like Tanzania and Indonesia have benefited from a surge in tourism. Moreover, research postulates that this will improve economic growth in developing countries. Economic developments in these countries are essential for stable socioeconomic growth. Tourism’s impact on reducing poverty within developing nations will be addressed in this article. However, the tourism industries in these countries promote more than just income generation — also, stability, opportunities in local communities, employment and cultural prosperity.


In 46 of the 49 least developed nations (nearly 94%), tourism has become one of the primary sources of economic income. Moreover, in some countries, this results in 25% of GDP. The total contribution of tourism in 2019 generated roughly $9.2 billion, with direct contributions globally generating nearly $2.8 billion. The income generated in these countries can provide further support to local communities and the overall infrastructure and revenue of developing countries.

The tourism industry offers excellent advantages for socioeconomic growth and poverty alleviation. One of the most significant factors is employment. Many individuals living in developing countries lack the education and opportunity for high-paying, skilled jobs. Jobs within the tourism industry, such as food, conservation and hospitality require lower skill levels. Therefore, allowing for expanded employment opportunities. In these ways, tourism’s impact on reducing poverty is both positive and significant.


The tourism industry can certainly promote nations, effectively raising their global profile and allowing for even more tourism. However, it can also allow for environmental damage, such as pollution, littering, resource depletion or loss of natural habitats due to the massive increase in visitors. In this same vein, roughly 40 million Americans traveled internationally in 2019. Yet, alternatively, it should be noted that tourism can potentially provide funding for conservation and create incentives to preserve natural areas. This occurs in both urban and rural environments to regenerate the areas.

Infrastructure such as roads, airports, hotels and other tourism services may fail to keep up with the estimated tourist projections of an “additional 400 million arrivals forecasted in 2030.” Infrastructure’s crucial role in tourism is in the amenities that these countries can provide for visitors. Although, with tourist arrivals already surpassing projections by 2017, some countries may struggle to progress and uphold their “infrastructure readiness” quickly enough.

Tanzania and Indonesia: Success Stories

Tanzania, located in sub-Saharan Africa, has become a significant tourist attraction within the past couple of years. Due to its rich culture and conservation, Tanzania has become a highly desirable destination. The nation accounted for 1.28 million tourist arrivals in 2016 alone. With this rise, Tanzania’s GDP of 4.7% is directly linked to tourism and travel expenditures. Furthermore, the country increased investments by 8.7% ($1.2 billion) and “export earnings,” generating $2.5 billion in revenue. These earnings dramatically impacted job opportunities, a significant variable in alleviating poverty. E.g., the increased investments employed 470,500 persons in the tourism and travel industry in 2016. Recent reports from the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) expect the tourism and travel sector to continue to rise “6.6% annually in the next 10 years.”

Indonesia has also created a profitable tourism and travel industry. Striving to improve income inequality and alleviate poverty through tourism has proven to be a successful initiative. A study conducted by LPEM FEB UI, Universita Indonesia, shows that tourism activities have reduced the “depth of poverty from 2.04 to 1.21.” Along with this, severe poverty lessened in 2016 from 0.37 to 0.29. Additionally, the study also reveals that tourist activities offer more significant support within communities. For those living in regions with more prevalent tourist activity — the poverty rate is 1.5%–3.4% lower than regions that are not.

Continuing the Positive Impact

While the advantages do not necessarily outweigh the disadvantages — there are significant, positive results in promoting the travel and tourism industry in the highlighted regions above. With continued progress, countries such as Tanzania and Indonesia have made increasing strides in alleviating poverty. Tourism’s impact on reducing poverty represents a significant feat that will hopefully continue to yield positive results for the world.

– Allison Lloyd
Photo: Flickr

poverty in Tanzania
Many know Tanzania, located in East Africa, for its beautiful landscape and its coastline along the Arabian seashore. Three of the largest lakes on the African continent are in Tanzania. Though this country succeeds in attracting much tourism, it is one of the world’s least developed countries on the Human Development Index (HDI). Accordingly, poverty in Tanzania is a significant challenge.

Current Economy

Although the country’s economy is growing, it has had little impact on widespread poverty in Tanzania. Growth resulting in gold production and tourism has increased Tanzania’s wealth per capita by 92% over the last 20 years. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the economy’s growth rate was 7% in 2018 and around 6.8% in 2019. Its real GDP growth rate fluctuates between 5% and 6% over the medium term. However, this steadily increasing GDP did not have a significant impact on Tanzania’s poverty reduction. Around 50% of the total Tanzanian population lives on less than $1.90 per day. Overall, Tanzania has only achieved a 2% poverty reduction over the last decade.

Currently, one out of three Tanzanians is self-employed. Around 80% of Tanzanians do not have access to a formal bank within 2 km of walking distance. Moreover, only 4% of the rural population has a bank account, while 70% of the population earns income through agriculture.

Food Insecurity and Agriculture

People in urban areas are 11 times more likely than those living in rural areas to have access to the minimum amount of food required for a living. Food insecurity is therefore common as another impact of poverty in Tanzania. In addition, around 35% of children in Tanzania suffer from chronic malnutrition. Poor utilization of the budget for agriculture is one reason for this widespread food insecurity. Furthermore, agricultural policy in Tanzania stands in the way of its growth. Though Tanzania’s growth depends a lot on agriculture, its lack of education, infrastructure and market access also cripples the country. However, the government is taking the necessary steps to address this conflicting policy problem in the hopes of improving food security in Tanzania in the future.

Environment and Health Changes

Despite 40% of the total Tanzanian land area being marked for parks and forests, deforestation is still a major concern in Tanzania. Deforestation rates have increased significantly since 2000. For example, a goldmine left 2,000 tons of toxic waste out in the surrounding environment without any regard for communities living there in 2009. This is yet another consequence of poverty in Tanzania.

The Road to Eradicating Poverty in Tanzania

Capital-intensive sectors concentrated in particular regions have driven growth in Tanzania. As a result, this contributes to uneven progress in the country’s economy, which is one of the key challenges in the land of Tanzania. By focusing attention on household income, labor and land productivity, the government can support the next generation of Tanzanians and help them get out of poverty. Tanzania’s government has already taken action to improve basic education in Tanzania, which will contribute to breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty. Though the road to poverty eradication in Tanzania is likely long, a combination of policies focusing on equalizing economic growth, reducing food insecurity and protecting the environment will help the country get there in the future.

– Narasinga Moorthy V
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Tanzania
The United Republic of Tanzania is an East African country in the African Great Lakes region with a population of around 56.32 million people. Tanzania is a developing country and it struggles with widespread hunger and poverty. In 2019, the Global Hunger Index ranked Tanzania 95th out of 117 countries, with a level of hunger classified as serious. Here are five important facts about hunger in the United Republic of Tanzania.

5 Facts About Hunger in the United Republic of Tanzania

  1. Malnutrition: Malnutrition due to hunger is a serious and widespread health issue for those living with food insecurity. Studies show that around 3.3 million children in Tanzania suffer from chronic malnutrition and 58% of children are anemic. In addition to the lack of access to food, malnutrition is a result of poor water quality and sanitation services. A shortage of medical supplies and properly trained healthcare workers have also worsened this crisis, affecting children’s’ health and growth over the long-term. In order to help defeat the damage of malnutrition on vulnerable children, doctors and humanitarian aid groups, such as the World Food Program, have begun providing malnourished children with fortified food products to help them gain the nutrients they require to thrive. Additionally, pregnant women, new mothers and young children are receiving regular checkups to ensure that they remain healthy and that they can receive treatment for malnutrition in its earliest stages.
  2. Infant Mortality Rates: Lack of access to food and proper nutrition has an especially harmful impact on infant mortality rates and the health of pregnant mothers. It is vital for children to receive adequate nutrition within the first 1,000 days of life in order for them to grow up strong and healthy. The widespread prevalence of malnutrition in Tanzania creates a health crisis that affects young children and causes a third of all deaths of children under 5, in addition to the many health problems that can damage children who survive. Studies have shown that babies who suffer from malnutrition, even briefly, are often at a higher risk for mental and physical illnesses even into adulthood, as well as learning difficulties, stunted growth and weaker immune systems in childhood. Pregnant women are also susceptible to malnutrition in part because of cultural myths about motherhood, such as the widespread belief in Tanzania that eating less during pregnancy will cause a baby to be smaller and easier to deliver. This can cause dangerous health issues for mothers as well as making their newborns more prone to malnutrition. Women of childbearing age and children under 5-years-old are the most prone to health problems due to malnutrition such as iron and vitamin A deficiencies. In Tanzania, 58% of children and 45% of women are anemic, and 33% of children and 37% of women have vitamin A deficiencies.
  3. Rural Hunger: Hunger in Tanzania disproportionately affects rural families living in poverty. Over half of the country lives in rural areas and works in the agricultural sector, a population that contains almost three-quarters of Tanzanians suffering from undernourishment and 80% of the country’s hungry citizens. Hunger in these rural areas increases during Tanzania’s dry season, which lasts from June to October. Harvesting crops becomes especially difficult during these months and maintaining an adequate amount of food is an even greater challenge.
  4. Agriculture: Although many people living in Tanzania work in agriculture, the country’s agricultural output still lags behind much of Sub-Saharan Africa. There are a number of reasons for this poor performance, such as less agricultural research, the continued use of rudimentary and outdated farming technology, lack of access to seeds and fertilizers and the inaccessibility of financial assistance such as agricultural loans. The struggling agricultural sector leads to higher rates of poverty and hunger among those who work in this field and rely on farming as their main food source.
  5. Organizations: Several organizations are combatting hunger in Tanzania. Efforts to fight malnutrition from the World Food Program and other organizations have decreased the mortality rate of children under 5-years-old by two-thirds and the infant mortality rate by 6% since 1990. The humanitarian organization Action Against Hunger recently trained 229 health workers in Tanzania on how to provide proper treatment and management of acute malnutrition. It also provided technical support to 41 healthcare facilities and screened over 10,000 children for malnutrition.

These statistics paint a sobering, yet not an entirely hopeless picture of the hunger in the United Republic of Tanzania. Many are working to help combat this issue, though more progress is still necessary to ensure that no one in Tanzania goes hungry.

 – Allie Beutel
Photo: Flickr

Sea Sponge FarmingZanzibar, an island off the coast of Tanzania, enjoys high financial capacity due to its successful tourist industry, fishing and seaweed production. However, many of Zanzibar’s coastal communities still suffer from acute poverty and local industries are under threat from environmental degradation. One nonprofit, Marine Cultures, aims to solve these issues by introducing sea sponge farming to households in Zanzibar.

The Benefits of Sea Sponge Farming

Sea sponge farming offers a more economically sustainable option than the traditional seaweed farming industry. Farming seaweed for the production of carrageenan, a common thickener in foods, has long been a staple industry for the employment of Zanzibari women. However, the industry is in decline, as seaweed is susceptible to pests and diseases. Additionally, the global market price for seaweed is now low and more labor-intensive farming is rewarded with comparatively minimal income. As a consequence, many single women struggle to make a living from farming seaweed.

Farming sea sponges, however, offer higher monetary returns for a lower-maintenance product. Unlike seaweed, pearl farming, or traditional fishing, sea sponge farming is less time consuming and allows farmers the time and opportunity to pursue other economic activities. Marine Cultures introduced the first sponge farm to coastal Zanzibar in 2009. Since then, the organization installs up to four new sponge farms a year and each farm generates enough income to feed 2-3 families of approximately ten people. The organization specifically targets single, unemployed women, granting them a one-year training period before turning over the farm. This strategy allows the recipient to independently establish and operate their business.

Giving Back To The Ecosystem

Zanzibar’s coastal ecosystems, although essential to the island’s wellbeing, are under pressure from a variety of factors. Overfishing, invasive species, unregulated tourism, dumping of human waste, overpopulation and rising water temperatures are just some of those.

However, sea sponge farms answer the call to establish sustainable forms of using natural resources extracted from the local ecosystem. As the market price of sea sponges remains high, sea sponge farming offers a financially viable alternative to traditional fishing, reducing overfishing and easing some pressure off of the coastal ecosystem. Additionally, sponges are filter-feeders, which means that in addition to saving farmers money on feed costs, they also act as a biofilter that filters out particles in the water.

In this way, sea sponges can help act as a buffer against pollution and encourage the health of local coral reefs. Marine Culture’s sponge farms have even been shown to improve local stocks of species on certain occasions.

Future Perspectives

Looking to the future, sea sponges pose a promising new industry to Zanzibar and beyond. Those women who have begun operating their own sea sponge farms through Marine Cultures report increased income for lower amounts of labor than they experienced harvesting seaweed. All the while, these farms pose long-term career opportunities, as farmers learn the skills not only of sea sponge farming but of marine biology, entrepreneurship and commerce.

By the end of this year, a twelfth sea sponge farm is on track to become independent. Marine Cultures hopes that by 2022, they will be able to remove themselves completely from the local industry and turn over all sponge farms to a local organization that will train future farmers without oversight from Marine Cultures.

– Alexandra Black 
Photo: Flickr

Flaviana Matata FoundationInternational fashion model Flaviana Matata survived malaria and studied electrical engineering in college. In 2007, Matata was the first-ever Tanzanian woman to compete in the Miss Universe pageant. In 2016, after learning that house paint is often passed off and sold as nail polish in Tanzania, she founded Lavy Products, a nontoxic nail polish company whose products appear online and in stores and salons across Tanzania. As she breaks records and embarks upon entrepreneurial endeavors, Matata has made philanthropy a priority, founding the Flaviana Matata Foundation in 2011.

Matata’s foundation is a nongovernmental organization that supports women’s education in Tanzania. The foundation also helps women establish their own businesses and find employment opportunities.

Education in Tanzania

In Tanzania, less than 56% of children move onto secondary school after completing their primary school education. While the Tanzanian government abolished school fees for primary and secondary school education in 2015, costs such as transportation, lunch and exams still make it three times less likely that students from poor families will attend primary school when compared with children from wealthy families. As of 2016, the poverty rate in Tanzania is estimated to be 26.8%, meaning that more than 13 million Tanzanians live in poverty.

“A lot of kids do very well in school but have to quit or stop because they can’t afford school fees, uniforms or even books—the little things we take for granted,” Matata said in an interview for the Diamond Empowerment Fund, which has helped sponsor many of the Flaviana Matata Foundation’s initiatives.

The Foundation’s Approach to the Gender Gap

Girls are less likely than boys to receive a secondary-level education in Tanzania. The literacy rate for adult women in Tanzania was approximately 67% in 2009. Laws banning child marriage and fee-free education at the secondary level have been important steps toward increasing access to education in Tanzania, but more progress still needs to be made.

The Flaviana Matata Foundation aims to achieve this progress and make education in Tanzania more accessible for women. To date, the Flaviana Matata Foundation has helped over 5,000 students in Tanzania, providing school supplies, improving school infrastructure, adding desks and giving toiletry boxes for girls to use while on their menstrual cycles.

Ongoing Activism

The foundation has prioritized various projects since 2011. The Clean and Safe Water Project, completed in 2018, provides 319 students and teachers with a supply of clean water. The Stationery Back to School Project, completed in early 2020, equipped 304 students with stationery kits to last the academic year. The foundation’s ongoing project, Education Sponsorship for Young Girls, currently sponsors 25 girls from secondary school to college or university age with full scholarships and vocational and educational training.

Matata, whose Instagram following is 1.5 million as of July 2020, regularly shares information about Lavy Products and the Flaviana Matata Foundation online. Her work proves that social media can be used to make a positive impact and combat education inequality. As 24 million girls in sub-Saharan Africa remain unable to afford an education, the Flaviana Matata Foundation’s initiatives continue to play a crucial role in bridging education gaps.

Zoe Engels
Photo: Pixabay

Healthcare in Tanzania
The percentage of Tanzania’s population living on about $1.90 per day remains at 49.1% as of 2017, according to data from The World Bank. President Benjamin W Mkapa commented on the state of poverty in 2004 stating that ‘‘… the poor must be brought from the margins into the mainstream. The process must be inclusive. The weakest economies and communities need special and differentiated help.’’ President Mkapa shared his thoughts on including everyone in the process for universal aid and healthcare in Tanzania, which stretches from the cities to the rural agricultural communities. His words echoed the thousands of people living in extreme poverty where, like most other countries, their healthcare quality is dependent on wealth, status, location and transportation.

Effects of Poor Healthcare in the Poorest Communities

Masuma Mamdani and Maggie Bangser wrote a literary review in 2004 titled Poor People’s Experiences of Health Services in Tanzania, where they discussed the effects of poor quality of healthcare in Tanzania. Sexual and reproductive health was a major focus, especially with the implications it has for poor women in the region. ‘‘Many [poor women] cannot afford transport costs so they sell their food, borrow, use herbs or just wait to die,” a healthcare worker shared from Mpwapwa.

According to Mamdani and Bangser’s literary review, key barriers to the poor in this region include:

  • The availability of drugs and medicines
  • The shortage of qualified personnel
  • Distance and transport issues
  • Charges
  • Governance

The government has written out and implemented a number of policies, but the issue of inaccessible healthcare for the poorest of the population is still prominent. Today, the United States is working in conjunction with the Tanzanian government to address a multitude of healthcare issues with USAID. For example, the strengthening of Tanzania’s own health system is imperative through supplies, more healthcare workers and supporting finances; but these efforts mostly concentrate within major cities and areas of high population density.

History of Healthcare Legislation

Since the East African country of Tanzania gained independence from Britain in 1961, there have been many ups and downs in the fight for healthcare for all citizens. The Arusha Declaration of 1967 moved towards the nationalization of public services, including medical, but ultimately failed due to economic decline. As the population rose and poverty levels increased through the years, especially in rural communities, even the numerous improvements in health services could barely keep up with the demand.

Healthcare in Tanzania today still does not receive enough funding and is nearly inaccessible outside of major cities. The funds directed towards the health sector have declined from 9.6% in 2014 to 7% in 2018, and the investments do not meet the estimated minimum requirement to guarantee basic health services to the population. There are a number of privatized health care options along with four main insurance programs available to the public, but even so, a large number of the population does not have insurance due to the high costs.

To combat this disparity, Tanzania enacted a Health Sector Strategic Plan from 2015-2020 to gain quality improvement in healthcare, provide equitable access to all and to achieve active community partnership. The Tanzanian government had implemented its fourth strategic plan, building on previously stated actions meaning to expand coverage of health insurance and extend quality health services to the poorer regions. For example, one of the core strategic objectives target the improvement of quality health services through ensuring essential services, a quality rating system, providing adequate staffing, performance management systems and more.

Independent Initiatives in Tanzania

Besides the government legislation that is currently in place and making changes, other independent NGO initiatives are making a difference for healthcare in Tanzania as well. An American initiative, Roads To Life, has dedicated itself to building and improving medical facilities in the Nkololo village, along with constructing roads and funding education. This nonprofit serves a primarily agricultural area with a population of 22,000, addressing the need for quality medical services outside of major cities and transport improvements between towns and regions. Roads To Life has also expanded and renewed the Songambele Health Center, which emerged in 1994. It can now treat up to 560 patients and has a new surgical center. After the addition of new operating suites which opened in 2016, there have been 149 surgical procedures. These new technologies and resources are vital to the health of Nkolo community members, who often had to go to the District Hospital for emergency procedures which was an hour away.

The combination of service and community makes all of the difference in healthcare in Tanzania. Influence from these discussed governmental and independent initiatives is still spreading throughout the country and there is still more work for the country to accomplish in terms of sexual and reproductive health. The efforts that Tanzania has put forth towards universal healthcare and providing quality medical services in more locations is a great push in the right direction to fight the effects of poverty in the poorest regions of this country.

– Savannah Gardner
Photo: Flickr

Tanzania's People-Centered RoadsTanzania’s rural roads are filled with the hustle and bustle of commuters. Large trucks speed past children walking to school, dust swirls up from the ground as farmers whiz by on motorcycles transporting goods and men and women trek to markets, jobs and services. For residents, these roads serve as essential gateways connecting to social, economic and educational opportunities. Despite the fact that most rural residents do not own cars or motorbikes, Tanzania’s current transport network is targeted primarily for vehicles. The Tanzania Roads to Inclusion and Socioeconomic Opportunities Program (RISE) is working to establish “People-Centered” roads that allow for efficient, safe and inclusive access to roads.

The Danger of Rural Roads

Safe and dependable transport is key to saving lives. Tanzania has one of the highest traffic-related death rates in the world at approximately 33 deaths per 100,000 people. Road accidents can be disastrous for low-income populations; when a member of a rural household is injured in a road accident, the average household income falls drastically. For example, a young Tanzanian boy named Nickson was hit by a car and severely damaged his leg while crossing the Tanzania-Zambia highway on his way home from school. Nickson’s performance in school declined drastically due to the time spent in the hospital and healing at home. Furthermore, Nickson’s mother missed out on farm work to take care of him, placing financial strain on the family. Nickson’s story reveals the devastating impact that unsafe roads can have on rural communities.

A People-Centered Approach

In the past, few resources have been devoted to local roads in order to address rural poverty. About 70 percent of the nation’s population lives in rural areas that experience far deeper levels of poverty. Low productivity and the absence of market integration efforts are the main causes of income disparity between rural and urban communities. However, the Roads to Inclusion and Socio-economic Opportunities Program Project aims to transform Tanzania’s rural transportation system.

The World Bank and the Tanzanian government are working together to create a People-Centered Design, an approach that makes rural roads accessible and safe to everyone. The approach to Tanzania’s People-Centered Roads ensures that vulnerable road users are a central part of the development process; consultants collect information from rural community members about the current needs, uses and safety hazards of their road, and structure interviews in a way that engages women, men, girls and boys alike. This ensures that all stakeholders are heard and accounted for in the technical design of a road. People-Centered Road Safety Audits are utilized to view roads from the perspective of pedestrians, public transport users and cyclists. These inspections guarantee the inclusion of different socio-economic groups in the project’s development. The People-Centered approach was successfully utilized in three rural road projects in the Iringa region in preparation to implement the nationwide RISE project.

Kickstarting the Agricultural Sector

Safe and accessible rural transportation networks can kickstart the agricultural sector and dramatically reduce poverty as they connect rural communities to markets. Tanzania struggles with low productivity in its agricultural sector. Although rich with arable land, many agricultural areas in Tanzania are not accessible throughout the year due to missing or inadequate road links. These infrastructure shortcomings create lofty transportation costs and keep rural areas from reaching their full potential, as an average 35% of total agricultural production is lost post-harvest. With the agricultural industry employing 75% of the nation’s population, improving rural roads is critical to improving market access and socioeconomic opportunities for Tanzania’s rural poor.

Improving Well-Being and Economic Prosperity for Women

Tanzania’s People-Centered Roads are especially focused on increasing safety and income-generating activities for women. Poverty is pervasive among Tanzanian women, with female-headed households more likely to experience poverty than those headed by males. When it comes to road safety, women are particularly vulnerable because most do not have access to motorized transportation. RISE plans to incorporate a gender-balanced approach to road-design that empowers women to participate in their communities’ decision making while protecting them from sexual exploitation and abuse. In addition, 56 percent of rural Tanzanian women work in agriculture. By boosting the agricultural sector’s productivity, RISE will also help rural women increase their incomes.

Safe and accessible rural transportation networks are crucial to reducing poverty, growing the economy and improving road safety in Tanzania. The Tanzania Roads to Inclusion and Socioeconomic Opportunities Program is connecting local communities to national markets and increasing access to health, education and farming inputs. Tanzania’s People-Centered Roads are transforming the lives of rural residents and ensuring that fewer citizens are disadvantaged by road accidents.

Claire Brenner
Photo: Flickr

Six Facts about Hunger in TanzaniaHunger is a worldwide issue that claims the lives of 25,000 people every single day. Lack of access to food, inflation of food cost and food security are just a few things that continue to make hunger a global issue. In Tanzania, there are 14 million citizens considered poor, and 26.4% living in poverty. In 2014, there were approximately 5 million people who were food insecure and that number is expected to almost triple by 2024. With this many people living in poverty, going hungry is sometimes the only option. To better understand this crisis, here are six facts about hunger in Tanzania:

6 Facts About Hunger in Tanzania

  1. The lack of access to food is the biggest issue of hunger in Tanzania. In 2015, it was reported that more than 40% of citizens experience a shortage of food. These shortages happen for several reasons including drought, insufficient farming tools and poor soil. In Tanzania, 80% of their population lives in more rural areas. These areas are impacted the most because they rely so much on rain to fuel agriculture.
  2. Tanzania has what it calls a hunger season. This consists of the months from June to October where rainfall is essentially non-existent. Dr. Borda is a woman who lived in Tanzania for nearly 30 years. She says, “When the rains are late or excessive, the harvest fails . . . People here can really suffer from hunger at any time of the year — but especially in July, August and September.” During this dry spell, families often run out of food entirely. One-third of children under the age of five die because of malnutrition, a common result of this hunger season.
  3. In November of 2019, the price of food in Tanzania had inflated 6.7% from just 2% in 2018. Dr. Phillip Mpango, a Minister of Finance and Planning, says the increase is in connection with “transport challenges, marketing infrastructure, warehousing and the supply chain of food products in certain areas.” He also states that neighboring countries who are experiencing food shortages too have become the main destination for Tanzanian exports. Therefore, the cost of food becomes inflated.
  4. Stunting, caused by extreme hunger, is an outcome many children battle. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), stunting is defined as “the impaired growth and development that children experience from poor nutrition, repeated infection, and inadequate psychosocial stimulation.” In Tanzania, stunting affects 34% of children today. Luckily, Tanzania has begun taking steps to address child hunger. These have included collecting data from inside the home, making nutritional information widely available and educating health officials on how to better teach patients and their families.
  5. Along with stunting, malnourishment is another danger for children. Children who are malnourished not only face the physical consequences but also mental consequences. Studies show that malnourishment can weaken a child’s capacity to learn, increase instances of anxiety, lowers their IQ’s and increases troubles socializing for children.
  6. Food security is heavily correlated with sufficient food nutrition and consumption in Tanzania. Unfortunately, food security is low. According to the United Nations World Food Program, a mere 15% of families living in rural areas are food insecure, and another 15% are at great risk of becoming food insecure. Some reasons for the high food insecurity rate can be linked to poor economic growth, lack of education and minimal health care.


Despite these challenges faced by Tanzania, measures have been put in place to help mitigate some of these problems. One such solution is Plumpy’Nut which was invented by a French doctor for the treatment of malnourishment in babies and young children. This product is a peanut butter paste which includes other ingredients such as dried milk, oil, sugar as well as minerals and vitamins necessary for growth. Plumpy’Nut is easily accessible to families living in poverty as it does not require water or heat to cook it.

One organization that is doing its part to reduce hunger in Tanzania is Action Against Hunger. This NGO is a part of a 2016-2021 plan, called National Multisectoral Nutrition Action Plan (NMNAP) that aims to reduce malnourishment. They have partnered with the local governments and have been able to train healthcare workers and providers. They also providing the technical support necessary to screen and treat children suffering from malnourishment.

Although Tanzania is not out of the woods yet, they are finally receiving much needed aid at fighting hunger and saving lives.

– Stacey Krzych
Photo: Flickr

Villagers set out to fish in the coastal areas. Ending poverty in all its forms is the first of the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals for 2030. Although the initiative has achieved progress toward decreasing the number of people living in extreme poverty, there are still parts of the world lagging behind. This is the case for many isolated and rural regions. Recent innovations in geospatial mapping technology can improve the ability to locate, understand and help these communities.

Geospatial Mapping Technology Contest

The American Geographical Society’s innovational contest, The EthicalGEO Challenge, is creating a dialogue around the ethics of geospatial mapping technology. The initiative calls for participants to enter a three-minute video proposal detailing their idea for a mapping tool that will promote social good.

Seven winners were selected in 2019 for a $7,500 fellowship prize to help them launch their respective projects, which will use location data and geospatial mapping technology to empower vulnerable communities in a variety of ways.

Several fellows’ projects will use mapping technology to tackle social justice challenges — for example, land rights and expulsion in a Tanzania community, exploitation of public health data or environmental protection and sustainability. Another fellow chose to take a more direct approach in addressing ethics by developing a video toolbox that can be used to teach geo-privacy in classrooms. Through their wide range of ideas, the contest winners are shedding light on the versatility and adaptability of geospatial mapping technology.

Geospatial Mapping in Rural Fishing Villages

Fellowship winner Dr. Alfredo Giron-Nava, a Postdoctoral Research Scholar at the University of California, Santa Barbara, is focusing on using geospatial mapping technology to empower small-scale fishing villages.

These coastal regions are often classified as vulnerable because of their high dependency on a single commodity, and can face overexploitation if they lack sustainable fishing methods. Additionally, their reliance on natural resources makes fisheries sensitive to the effects of climate change, which have become more distinct in recent years. Fishing is a critical need but endangered the economic sector in many regions including South Asia, Central America and Mexico’s Gulf of California where nearly 80% of the population experiences poverty.

Giron-Nava proposed a plan to create the first global map on the prevalence of poverty in fishing villages around the world. The mapping initiative is aimed at better understanding the demographics and locations of these fishing communities, particularly those in developing regions where fisheries are essential to the economy.

  • The first phase of the project focuses on understanding living conditions and wages in fishing villages in different regions, using publicly available information from databases and agencies such as the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization.
  • In the second phase of the project, this regional data will be compared against each country’s national poverty line, which is characterized by factors such as access to food, housing, adequate sanitation, health services, and education. These findings will be used to create a more detailed, subnational map showing which areas are comparatively experiencing the highest rates of poverty.

Contextualizing data on poverty levels by country is important because it allows for the development of specific poverty reduction strategies that match the social, cultural and economic context of each community.

Information gathered by innovative technologies creates a new lens for the development of social justice policies. A crucial first step to eradicating poverty is understanding the distribution and concentration of those whom it affects. By addressing these key issues in a responsible and ethical manner, geospatial mapping technology has the potential to be a powerful tool for ending poverty in rural and isolated areas.

–  Sylvie Antal
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