Information and stories on Tanzania

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 TanzaniaDespite 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

African Welfare Programs 
Basic welfare programs were introduced in select African states toward the end of the colonial age. Rather than aiding the poorest citizens, the earliest programs were social security schemes designed to assist affluent wage-earners, predominantly white, in their retirement. The majority, who made meagre wages or subsisted through barter exchange, did not qualify for benefits. African welfare programs remain underdeveloped and their qualifying criteria often exclude the neediest citizens. But increasingly, African leaders are seeing welfare programs both as an effective way to reduce poverty and as a tool for leveraging political advantage.

Welfare Programs in Tanzania

In 2013, Tanzania launched the Productive Social Safety Net (PSSN) to assist its poorest citizens through small monthly “cash transfers.” The program has rapidly expanded coverage from 2 percent of the population in its first year to more than 10 percent in 2018. With this program, every recipient receives an unconditional sum that translates to about $5. Beneficiaries can qualify for additional funds by enrolling their children in schools and ensuring they attend regular health check-ups. A “cash-for-work” scheme enables members of a beneficiary’s household to earn around $1 per day for contributing labor to public works projects.

PSSN is geared toward Tanzania’s poorest. Funds are directed toward communities in the lowest-income bracket, but each community elects the households it deems most in need. The governing agency then conducts its own checks to ensure the elected beneficiaries are eligible. A 2016 report led by the World Bank found that 48 percent of PSSN beneficiary households land in the lowest decile for consumer spending. At around $13, average monthly cash transfer values represent about one-fifth of total monthly expenditure for PSSN households.

Welfare Program in Kenya 

Kenya began making together a wide-ranging welfare system during the height of the aids crisis. With support from UNICEF, the Kenyan government piloted a cash transfers program targeting households with orphans and vulnerable children in 2004. It was found that most beneficiaries used their transfers to buy basic necessities like food and school supplies, quelling fears the funds would be squandered. As of 2015, approximately 250,000 Kenyan households received transfers at a flat rate of around $21.

Since 2003, the Kenyan government has funded elementary education for all school-aged children. Reports show that this has not only been highly effective in increasing school enrolment and extending the duration of children’s’ education but has also boosted Kenyan test scores to the top level across the continent. However, there are some bad sides to this program as well. Although tuition is paid for, there are still costs that need to be picked up by parents or guardians, such as mandatory uniforms, which can act as barriers for the poorest families. Another critique launched against Kenya public schools is that they are underrepresented in slums and poorer villages, drawing the charge that the policy could be better aligned to help Kenya’s poorest children.

The Future of African Welfare Programs

Many other African states are moving alongside Kenya and Tanzania in establishing what can be called African welfare programs and systems. In 2013, Senegal launched a cash transfers program that now assists around 20 percent of the nation’s poorest households. The Ghanaian and Zambian governments have both taken recent steps to raise revenue for child benefits. Wealthier nations like South Africa and Botswana are building on their existing welfare systems as well.

African welfare programs are emerging far earlier than those in European, Asian or Latin American nations when considered these programs in terms of Gross National Income (GNI). So far, all indications suggest they are helping lift the poorest from dire poverty and are boosting the economy through buoyed consumer spending. Welfare is not going to eliminate poverty on its own, but it may speed along its decline and improve lives as it does so.

– Jamie Wiggan

Photo: Unsplash

PA 10 Facts about Life Expectancy in Tanzania
Tanzania is home to Africa’s highest peak and borders the continent’s deepest lake, but among these geographical wonders lives East Africa’s largest population struggling to reach adulthood. According to the United Nations, Tanzania has the world’s largest youth population in modern history that, if cultivated with proper programmatic support, could result in unprecedented societal growth and progress as the population ages.

However, surviving childhood and staying healthy are major threats to an aging Tanzanian population where life expectancy is low. Lack of quality health care and poor sanitation contribute to high infant mortality and lives lost to preventable diseases. International aid is bolstering local and government-sponsored programs to address some of the most critical issues contributing to life expectancy in Tanzania, but more support is needed. In the article below, these and other issues are discussed in a form of 10 facts about life expectancy in Tanzania.

Ten Facts About Life Expectancy in Tanzania

  1. Overall, life expectancy in Tanzania has increased by nearly 10 years in the past decade. According to the most recent data, Tanzanians are expected to reach nearly 66 years of age, compared to 57 years of age in the mid-2000s. Several factors contributing to this success include socioeconomic growth through employment, higher incomes and more education.
  2. Nearly 20 percent of deaths in Tanzania are preventable with proper access to surgical care. The Tanzanian government is aware of the gap in health care access and has launched the National Surgical, Obstetric and Anesthesia Plan, dedicated to improving access to surgical, anesthesia and obstetric services by 2025.
  3. Malaria is the leading cause of hospitalization and death of children in Tanzania and one of the leading causes of all deaths in the country. Tanzania’s malaria epidemic has sparked decades of solution-driven support and strategic oversight from the Millennium Development Goals and Roll Back Malaria Partnership. Both initiatives have helped address this preventable disease and allowed Tanzanian children to live longer.
  4. Every day, 270 Tanzanian children under the age of 5 succumb to preventable diseases such as malaria, pneumonia and diarrhea. The need for a stronger health system and service delivery is reflected in the high rates of childhood mortality. The childhood mortality rate is, however, improving and has dropped by nearly half since the early 1990s due to concerted efforts from Tanzania’s government and international aid.
  5. Seventy-five percent of Tanzanian children have received all basic immunizations. With global immunization coverage consistent at 85 percent, Tanzania is taking health security for children seriously. One major barrier to higher coverage is the disparity between regions. International aid efforts like those from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) offer support for childhood vaccination which is a contributing factor for a drop of two-thirds since 2000 in child mortality.
  6. Tanzanian children born to mothers with little education are 1.3 times more likely to die before their fifth birthday than children whose mothers have secondary or higher education. Further, adolescent women in Tanzania who have not been able to access education are five times more likely to be mothers than those with secondary or higher education. Programs from the Girls Educative Collaborative like Launch a Leader, that prepares girls heading to secondary school, help break down barriers and expand access to continuing education for young women.
  7. Two-thirds of women in the country give birth in a facility with a skilled practitioner. The assistance of an attendant reduces the chances of maternal mortality during birth, however, large gaps in skill among delivery attendants leave women at risk for maternal mortality.
  8. Twenty-seven million Tanzanians lack access to safe drinking water and 35 million Tanzanians rely on unimproved sanitation. These unsafe water and sanitation conditions disproportionately affect children and rural communities. But, there is hope. Organizations like Water.org have begun tapping into Tanzania’s existing technology infrastructure to improve the country’s water and sanitation infrastructure through digital finance and the company’s WaterCredits program.
  9. Tanzania has one of the world’s lowest physician-to-population ratios. WHO estimates that there are three doctors, nurses or midwives for every 10,000 Tanzanians. With a population of over 50 million and a recommended minimum threshold of 23 providers for every 10,000 people in low-income countries, these numbers highlight a significant gap in health care coverage. One USAID program, in collaboration with Tanzania’s government, has trained over 500 health providers in more than 400 facilities to address critical needs.
  10. Almost 1.5 million Tanzanians living with HIV, the AIDS epidemic are being well managed. Tanzania’s extensive roll out of antiretroviral medications has helped minimize the impact of the country’s epidemic over the last decade and improved life expectancy in the country.

The above presented 10 facts about life expectancy in Tanzania speak about the positive outcomes international and government solutions have on Tanzania’s population, but also highlight areas for further growth. Malaria is one of the leading deterrents for economic development and foreign investment in the country, and Tanzania did not meet the 2015 Millennium Development Goal targets for childhood or maternal mortality. With the proper support, Tanzania is on track to excel. The country’s future looks brighter (and older) than it did a mere decade ago.

– Sarah Fodero
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Hunger in Tanzania
Tanzania is an East African country that has a current population of more than 60 million. Although this country is known in part for its large agricultural sectors, it has continually faced food shortages and hunger crisis over the course of its existence. Hunger continually proves to be an ongoing battle and although there has been significant progress, poor nutrition remains a crucial development challenge for the country. In the text below, a list of the top 10 facts about hunger in Tanzania is presented.

Top 10 Facts About Hunger in Tanzania

  1. One of the reasons hunger is extremely hard to overcome is because of the continuous droughts Tanzania faces, which results in insufficient harvests. Almost half of the year is marked by a dry season given there is hardly any rainfall from June to October. Even after the dry season is over, the following six months are the most scarce in many Tanzanian households because the next harvest usually does not occur until March. This creates almost a year-long struggle of food shortages and lingering hunger.
  2. Food insecurity affects the population in rural areas significantly more than the population in the city. Surveys show that, although 64 percent of people living in cities suffer food shortages, the percentage rises to about 84 percent in people from rural areas. The simple reason for this statistic is that in rural areas the majority of the population relies on subsistence agriculture for their food.
  3. There is a generational transfer of undernutrition. Around 10 percent of women are undernourished and, in turn, they give birth to low-weight babies. These infants become malnourished both in their childhood and later in life. These children can grow up uneducated or not being able to work very hard. This cycle of poverty has made it extremely difficult for poor households to escape poverty and malnutrition.
  4. The first 1,000 days of a child’s life are the most crucial time to prevent lifelong malnutrition. These days consists of a period from the pregnancy up until the second birthday of a child. This can either result in the establishment of healthy growth and adequate nutrition or poor nutrition which will affect the entirety of their life.
  5. Forty-two percent of all children under the age of 5 suffer from stunting in the country. This equivalates to about 3.3 million children. Stunting is mostly caused by a lack of adequate nutrition from food, therefore the millions of children are not only stunted but also experiencing acute or severe malnourishment as well.
  6. Stunting rates in children under the age of 5 have declined by 8.1 percent from 2010 to 2015. This progress has been possible due to improved coordination of nutrition activities and increased nutrition-based budgets. This includes the participation of both the government and development partners, including the United States.
  7. In 2012, Tanzania joined the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, establishing a separate budget solely for improving nutrition and hunger by means of agriculture. The New Alliance has several goals, including reducing poverty and hunger, achieving sustained agriculture-led growth in Africa and relieving 50 million people of poverty in Africa by 2022. Tanzania has specifically committed to policy actions in business, inputs, land, nutrition, trade and markets.
  8. In 2014/2015, more than half of the nutrition-related funding came from foreign resources. Funding from development partners accounted for 55.8 percent while the remaining 44.2 percent came from both local and central government. The Tanzania Food and Nutrition Center working to decrease malnutrition also received 92 percent of their funding by outside donors.
  9. Tanzania ranks sixth among 45 African government’s political commitment to combat hunger and undernutrition. The Hunger and Nutrition Index for Africa ranks 45 governments on their commitment and Tanzania scores in the “green zone” representing high commitment. The HNI develops the index by ranking the performance of the countries based on 22 different indicators of political commitment.
  10. There are several USAID programs that are active in Tanzania and that focus on nutrition. One of the most significant is Feed The Future. This initiative is making agriculture a driver of economic growth by focusing on five key investment areas: agriculture, nutrition, policy, infrastructure and institutional capacity. Besides Feed the Future, there are several other USAID programs working to decrease the numbers of people in poverty and facing malnutrition in Tanzania.

The top 10 facts about hunger in Tanzania presented above are difficult to read and to understand. Even harder is to comprehend the reality that more than 60 million people in this country are facing. However, there is hope in the sense of the continuous progress and actions that are being made to help fight the currently ongoing hunger crisis in the country.

– Savannah Huls

Photo: Flickr

Child Marriage in Africa
Child marriage, defined as a situation in which a person is married before the age of 18, is considered to be a violation of fundamental human rights. Child marriage generally affects more girls than boys and has been found to limit educational attainment and work opportunities, result in early pregnancy, lead to social isolation and increase the risk of domestic violence.

Globally, child marriage occurs at the highest rate in sub-Saharan Africa, where four in 10 young women are married before the age of 18. While some African countries have been able to make significant progress in reducing child marriage, overall progress throughout the continent has been slow, making child marriage in Africa a primary concern of UNICEF and other international humanitarian organizations.

Global and Regional Trends

The child marriage rate in sub-Saharan Africa is 10 percent higher than in any other region in the world. These figures vary in various regions, with 30 percent of young women married under the age of 18 in South Asia, 25 percent in Latin America and the Caribbean, 17 percent in the Middle East and North Africa and 11 percent in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Within sub-Saharan Africa, child marriage occurs most frequently in West Africa, where 41 percent of young women are married before 18. This rate is 38 percent in Central Africa, 36 percent in Southern Africa and 34 percent in Eastern Africa.

Regionally, some progress has been made in reducing child marriage in Africa, as the rate in Western Africa was 44 percent in the early 2000s, the rates in Central and Eastern Africa were 42 percent. Only Southern Africa has shown no regional progress, remaining at 36 percent for the past 15 years. These reductions are not occurring quickly enough and UNICEF predicts that child marriage rates will remain above 30 percent in Western and Central Africa and above 20 percent in Eastern and Southern Africa even until 2030.

Age and Gender of Child Marriage in Africa

While a majority of child marriages occur between the ages of 15 and 18, there are many women who were married before the age of 15 as well. In sub-Saharan Africa, 12 percent of young women were either married or in a union prior to being 15 years old.

Data on boys affected by child marriage in Africa is limited, but it is still recognized to be a significant problem in some countries. The Central African Republic has one of the highest rates of child marriage for boys in the world, with 28 percent of young men married by the age of 18. This rate is 13 percent in Madagascar and 12 percent in Comoros.

Progress in African Countries

There are some African countries with low levels of child marriage, however, including Algeria, Djibouti, Eswatini, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa and Tunisia, that all have rates of child marriages under 10 percent. In the early 2000s, only Algeria, Djibouti, Namibia and Tunisia were under 10 percent. Notably, child marriage is the lowest in Tunisia, the country that has a rate of child marriage at 2 percent.

There have also been countries with high child marriage rates that have made significant progress over the last 15 years. Ethiopia had a child marriage rate of 60 percent in the early 2000s, that has since decreased to 40 percent. Zambia decreased their rate from 46 to 31 percent, and Guinea-Bissau decreased its rate from 44 to 24 percent.

Child Marriage in Ethiopia and Tanzania

Ethiopia provides an interesting case study for child marriage in Africa. Research conducted by the Forward UK, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of girls and women in Africa, reveals the cultural beliefs that cause child marriage to remain prevalent. Marrying girls young is a social norm in the nation, and families whose daughters are not married as children are often viewed in a negative light.

In part, this stems from the importance placed on virginity, and many believe that the earlier a girl is married the more likely she is to be a virgin. Girls may also be married to priests, as this is a way for religious leaders to gain respect. Priests must marry virgins, however, and therefore tend to have the youngest brides. Families also often perceive child marriage as a way out of poverty, as they receive a bride price and no longer carry the financial burden of caring for their married daughter. Some families also want to ensure they will have grandchildren before they die.

The organization conducted similar research in Tanzania, where girls may be married as young as 11 and where most marriages are arranged by the girl’s father without consideration of what she wants. Domestic violence is widespread in the nation, greatly impacting the health and wellbeing of child brides. Husbands generally do not have patience with child brides who may be too young to effectively complete the domestic tasks required of them, making them more likely to beat younger wives. Polygamy is also legal in Tanzania, which can negatively impact young brides.

Moving Forward

To effectively reduce child marriage, Forward UK recommends increasing community programs aimed at raising awareness about the negative impacts of child marriage, providing programs that will empower girls, improving girls’ access to education and establishing legal and medical services aimed towards girls and young women.

It remains to be seen whether progress in reducing child marriage in Africa will begin to occur at a faster rate. This progress would have a large impact and could help millions of girls across the continent.

– Sara Olk

Photo: Flickr