Information and stories on Tanzania

Solar Energy is Transforming Africa
Photovoltaics panels, more commonly referred to as solar panels, are often cited as the best way to decarbonize the world’s energy grids and reduce emissions. According to MIT, the price per solar cell has decreased by 99% since 1980. These incredibly low costs have now unlocked the use of solar panels for the world’s poorest continent, Africa, with incredibly positive ramifications for the local environments of its citizens and the international effort to reduce emissions. Beyond emissions, however, cheap solar energy also improves the prospects for poor and rural Africans to access electricity, opening new opportunities to enhance standards of living and reduce poverty rates. With the majority of the world’s poor now located in sub-Saharan Africa, these cheap panels, along with the innovative thinking of African communities across the continent, have created new use cases for solar energy that are increasing water security, improving rural access to electricity and increasing economic resilience for Africa’s developing economies. Here are three ways solar energy is transforming Africa.

3 Ways Solar Energy is Transforming Africa

  1. Kenya’s Solar Desalination Plant: Kenya, a former British colony located in eastern Africa, is home to a population of approximately 50 million people. With an annual population growth rate of 2.2%, Kenya has one of the fastest-growing populations in the world and is set to see a population of 85 million by 2050, according to the World Bank. While a significant amount of Kenya’s population growth will be in urban developments, only 28% of Kenya’s population is urban today, meaning that Kenya’s government will need to find ways to provide water and energy infrastructure for its rural communities for decades to come. One small Kenyan fishing village known as Kiunga, home to about 3,500 individuals, has found a solution. Partnering with an American NGO known as GivePower, this village uses solar panels to desalinate ocean water, with the capacity to deliver water to 35,000 residents, 10 times the village’s current population. Today, over 300 million sub-Saharan Africans struggle with water insecurity, often leading to conflict and instability that causes poverty, according to global NGO The Water Project. Developments that can reduce such insecurities can go a long way in improving the future for Africa’s poor. While much more progress needs to occur on this front, this village of Kiunga is providing a template for villages across Africa to harness the power of the sun for water security.
  2. Tanzania’s Rural Mini-Grids: Tanzania, a neighbor of Kenya and a former British and German colony, is home to about 58 million people. Tanzania is East Africa’s largest nation and is home to its largest population and its lowest population density. With its urban population constituting only 35.2% of the country, Tanzania faces the challenge of providing electricity to rural communities far from its city centers. Solar power is uniquely capable of delivering power to these rural communities, and Tanzania has embraced new economic models called “mini-grids” in order to deliver this power. While traditional fossil fuel power plants rely on extensive supply chains and infrastructure in order to deliver electricity, in part due to the weight of the fuels, solar panels generate power on-site, directly from the sun. These “mini-grids” allow small Tanzanian villages to afford electricity for the first time, creating opportunities for rural education and improving security, ultimately contributing to the reduction of rural poverty in Tanzania. Although the current situation is poor, with more than 70% of Tanzanians lacking access to electricity, by 2040, 140 million Africans – including many in Tanzania – will get electricity from these mini-grids, according to the World Resources Institute.
  3. Morocco’s Mega Solar Plant: The North African nation of Morocco is becoming an increasingly important economic power in Africa, with a growth rate of nearly 4.1%. Despite this progress, however, Morocco’s rural poverty rate remains high at 19%. Though one cannot fault Morocco for prioritizing its economy over its environment, given its current poverty rate, Morocco has committed to ramping up its solar energy production, seeking a 50% renewable energy capacity by 2030. The benefits of this development, however, are more than environmental, as Morocco is now a net energy exporter to Europe, decreasing its domestic electricity costs and enhancing its economic resilience, all while improving its economic and political relationships with Europe. Thus, Morocco has used solar energy to not only maintain its commitments to emissions reductions but also as a tool to diversify its economy, allowing the nation to not only lift its citizens from poverty but to sustain its citizen’s incomes in good times and bad.

Poverty remains a significant problem in Africa, with more than half of the world’s deeply impoverished peoples living in sub-Saharan Africa. However, through remarkably low costs and a variety of unique use cases across Africa, solar panels are now increasingly capable of delivering energy, water security and economic growth. From LED-powered lights in rural African schools to increasingly reliable electricity for African small businesses, solar energy is transforming Africa by contributing to its economic rise and modernizing its rural life. And, with solar-powered desalination moving from fiction to reality, water security is increasingly possible across the continent, leading to greater community stability and resilience. All of these factors play an essential role in decreasing poverty rates and improving the quality of life on Earth’s poorest continent. Sunlight, it seems, will brighten Africa’s nights in the future.

– Saarthak Madan
Photo: UN Multimedia

Child Poverty in Tanzania
In the Sub-Saharan region of Africa, Tanzania is one of the leading nations in development and reform. Since 2010, Tanzania’s economic indicators have held steadily above the average numbers of the rest of the region, boasting a positive GDP growth between 5% and 7% in the last 10 years. According to the World Bank’s 2019 Tanzania Mainland Poverty Assessment, poverty decreased by 8% in 10 years. Still, the World Bank Country Director for Tanzania, Bella Bird, urged the nation “to accelerate the pace of poverty reduction as the number of poor people remains high.” This article will assess child poverty in Tanzania and the efforts to eradicate it.

Better Planning, Better Counting

 In 2011, Tanzania committed itself to a series of national Five Year Development Plans (FYDP) to reach economic and human development goals by 2025. The Second Five Development Plan (FYDP II), 2016/17 – 2020/21, includes “poverty reduction” as a main focus. Tanzania’s overall positive economic performance results from a commitment to accurate assessment and careful planning that has welcomed newer and better ways to assess certain indicators, such as child poverty.

With the help of UNICEF, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) published the Child Poverty in Tanzania report in 2019. This report assesses child poverty in Tanzania through the recently developed framework known as Multiple Overlapping Deprivation Analysis (MODA), which “complements the traditional method of measuring poverty through the lens of a household’s aggregate income and consumption.” The report notes that MODA brings to focus the “importance in the wellbeing of a child during childhood” without losing sight of the monetary implications of poverty.

Multidimensional Child Poverty in Tanzania

The report defines “multidimensional child poverty” as a child who “suffers deprivation in three or more key dimensions of poverty: nutrition, health, protection, education, information, sanitation, water and housing.” The report further divides each dimension into indicators, thresholds and applicable ages. Using data from the 2014/15 National Panel Survey, this 2019 report provides an update on a previous report from 2016, and a clearer look at the issue of child poverty in Tanzania.

Below is a breakdown of each dimension, its indicators and the percentage of children (0-17 years old) deprived of each respective dimension.

  • Nutrition: The prevalence of stunting or wasting, body mass index (BMI) and dietary diversity – 30.1% of children deprived.
  • Health: Mother’s assisted delivery, antenatal care, support to a child with severe disability, malaria and diarrhea – 54.7% of children deprived.
  • Protection: Victim of crime, birth registration, early marriage and child labor – 86.4% of children deprived.
  • Water: Unimproved water and time to fetch water – 72.3% of children deprived.
  • Sanitation: Unsafe waste disposal, unsafe stool disposal and unimproved/shared sanitation – 91.1% of children deprived.
  • Housing: Inadequate floor/roof, overcrowding and solid cooking fuel – 88.8% of children deprived.
  • Education: Literacy, school enrolment, completed primary, pre-school enrolment and grade for age – 36.1% of children deprived.
  • Information: Communication device and access to information – 39.4% of children deprived.

The report concludes that a total of 88% of children in Tanzania are multidimensionally poor, meaning that they suffer from at least three deprivations above.

Higher Figures, Good or Bad?

According to the report, 19.5% of children live in monetary poverty, a much lower figure. Why, then, should Tanzania pay attention to the higher figure from the more complicated model? Working through the MODA methodology provides a more accurate look at the barriers that block Tanzanian children from participating in the semi-industrial future of their government’s goals.

Furthermore, this approach to understanding poverty highlights the importance of investing in programs that go beyond monetary solutions. While Tanzania has been successful in its cash-transfer programs, there may be a need to improve programs that tend to the non-monetary wellbeing of children should the country heed to Bird’s suggestions of speeding up the pace of progress.

USAID and Tanzania

Fortunately, Tanzania is not alone in the development and investment of such programs. USAID has recognized the need to empower the youth by increasing access to health care, water, nutrition and education, among other resources. Since the updated report in June 2019, USAID has developed two new programs that affect children directly: one in nutrition (30.1% of children deprived) and one in education (36.1% of children deprived).

Advancing Nutrition

Through the Advancing Nutrition activity, USAID works with Tanzanian authorities to support the implementation and further development of the National Multi-sectoral Nutrition Action Plan (NMNAP), initially set up in 2016 and due for a second iteration after June 2021. According to the midterm NMNAP report, Tanzania is on track to meet most of its goals from 2016.

Between 2014 and 2018:

  • Acute malnutrition in children 5-years-old and under has dropped from 3.8% to 3.5%.
  • The prevalence of overweight children under 5-years-old has dropped from 3.5% to 2.8%.
  • The proportion of children aged 0-5 months who are exclusively breastfed rose from 41% to 58%.
  • The proportion of children aged 6-23 months who received a minimum acceptable diet increased from 20% to 30%.

Hesabu Na Elimu Jumuishi (“Arithmetic and Inclusive Education”)

The second program developed after June 2019 for children revolves around education. The Arithmetic and Inclusive Education activity expands math instruction for young children and “addresses the need for inclusive education for children with disabilities.” According to the UNICEF report, around 48% of children 5-13 years old experience deprivation in the education dimension. This USAID activity will work directly to improve this indicator of multidimensional in child poverty in Tanzania.

Looking Ahead

Tanzanian leaders and international groups understand the need to develop more aggressive plans to tackle poverty. As the USAID Tanzania Activity Briefer notes in the “Better Policies” activity description: “a reduction in poverty slower than the economic growth rate implies that growth has not sufficiently reached those who are the most vulnerable.”

In the next two years, Tanzania’s development (FYDP) and nutrition (NMNAP) plans will be re-discussed and re-planned. Many of USAID’s programs in Tanzania will also soon reach a conclusion, such as the “Water Resources Integration Development Initiative” (WARIDI), which improves sanitation and water management while creating jobs (72.3% of children experience deprivation in the water dimension).

Through this new look at indicators of poverty, namely multidimensional child poverty, such programs along with the government now have a better understanding of how to allocate resources purposefully to address more directly the issue of child poverty in Tanzania.

– Luis Gonzalez Kompalic
Photo: Flickr

Sanitation Practices in Tanzania
Tanzania has made considerable strides in decreasing extreme poverty. For example, from 2007–2018, the country’s poverty rate declined from 34% to 26% (of the total population). However, this progress in poverty reduction has not translated as successfully when addressing sanitation. Improving sanitation practices in Tanzania directly relates to decreasing infant mortality and malnutrition. Currently, 23 million of Tanzania’s 57 million residents obtain drinking water from potentially hazardous sources. Acknowledging these disparities and the value of potable water in eradicating poverty, the initiative Project SHINE works in rural communities where low access to clean water and poor hygiene practices are common. The organization is on a mission to improve sanitation by inventing cost-effective, simple solutions that enhance hygiene in Tanzania.

Poor Sanitation and Resulting Diseases

Poor sanitation practices in Tanzania contribute to a host of preventable infections in the country. Tanzania suffers frequent cholera outbreaks, which cause extreme diarrhea and dehydration. Diarrheal disease is one of the largest contributors to child mortality in countries facing extreme poverty. Moreover, those who do survive, suffer developmental obstacles. Cholera, as well as the related disease typhoid, can transmit through drinking water polluted with human feces. Open excretion, a widely spread issue in Tanzania, is easily preventable by developing water sanitation infrastructure.

In terms of parasitic infections, malaria commonly transmits through mosquitoes. This illness and schistosomiasis easily spread due to a lack of proper drainage systems in Tanzania. Finally, skin, eye and oral infections are a common result of the lack of knowledge among Tanzanians regarding proper hygiene practices.

Rural communities in Tanzania learn and influence hygiene practices based on previously established knowledge and cultural practices. Therefore, many children are predisposed to the same habits — and therefore, the same risks as their families. To help combat these norms that often pose significant health risks, Project SHINE is introducing innovations in sanitation and hygiene for Tanzanians.

Sanitation and Hygiene Innovation in Education (SHINE)

Project SHINE uses science to educate children and motivate changes in their hygienic behaviors by cooperating with schools. The program also reaches out to parents and other community members to develop a better understanding of attitudes toward health within this field. Through its educational initiatives, Project SHINE engages pastoralists who, even though many children come from these families, often lack access to resources and are actively involved with livestock. In particular, SHINE highlights the importance of both animal and human health for these audiences.

Education Strategy: Science Fairs

Project SHINE promotes science fairs in its target schools to encourage greater conversation and education about sanitation. These events focus on three subjects: water, sanitation and hygiene. This project’s aim is to help motivate youth, health care workers and community members to adopt improved health care practices. The long-term goal of motivating future generations to permanently incorporate these habits into their daily routines is paramount.

During this process, teachers receive private training in separate workshops where they gain strategies for presenting hygiene and sanitation to students in engaging ways.

Students engage in these science fairs by conducting research and forming hypotheses. One project students can complete, for example, is to create sustainable hand-washing stations using local, low-cost materials. Project SHINE also incorporates a One Health Paradigm that emphasizes the connection between livestock, humans and the environment. Notably, this is a relevant framework for children from pastoral families. Overall, fitting sanitation practices in Tanzania into the school curriculum has become a priority for SHINE.

The Journey Ahead

Progress for hygiene and sanitation practices in Tanzania has been a long, difficult journey for many families who still struggle to obtain clean water. Nevertheless, interventions from Project SHINE have already made significant differences. The initiative is planning to expand to other parts of the community, including out-of-school youth and the disabled. Overall, the work of Project SHINE offers promise for the health and prosperity of thousands across Tanzania.

– Zoe Schlagel
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Women's Rights in TanzaniaAccusations of witchcraft are not just a thing of the past: in Tanzania, older women are frequently attacked and accused due to this label. For example, an 80-year-old woman named Mirondo describes how a group of men entered her hut in the middle of the night, blindfolded her, bound her and beat her. They destroyed her crops and burned down her home. They even said, “we have shown you mercy and are not killing you today, but you have 24 hours to leave the village or else we will come back and kill you.” Despite its horror, this type of story is not uncommon. Accusations of witchcraft continue to threaten women’s rights in Tanzania.

History of Witchcraft in Tanzania

Any Tanzanian woman can be subject to witchcraft accusations. Marginalized groups including the elderly, ill or albino are especially in danger. These persecutions can occur for a variety of reasons including poverty, age, infection with diseases like HIV and land disputes. Women are sent threatening letters, attacked and even killed. An estimated one thousand women are killed in Tanzania annually. However, this statistic is likely higher, as these crimes are often unreported. These witchcraft accusations represent a clear violation of women’s rights in Tanzania.

Witchcraft has a long history in East African countries. The practice began centuries ago as a way to understand natural disasters, infertility and death. Although laws remain in place banning witchcraft, approximately 93% of Tanzanians still believe in its existence according to a 2012 Pew Research Center report. Furthermore, 60% use witch doctors for healing purposes. These witch doctors, though, are some of the most common accusers of witchcraft. Clearly, the belief in witchcraft is deeply ingrained in society. A report by the University of Dar es Salaam even stated that it is too strong to be eliminated through the law. These researchers propose a different solution: mass scientific education.

Working with Communities to Change Attitudes

The organization HelpAge is embracing the idea of using education to reduce witchcraft accusations. Teamed with local partners, this nonprofit trains members of over 90 villages to protect and support women’s rights in Tanzania. Their community programs include women’s rights training, HIV education, paralegal training, and exposure to traditional drama, music and dance.

In terms of paralegal training, community members learn to provide legal support and advice for disputes like inheritance, land and marriage rights. Paralegals also help women draft wills to protect their assets. These education and training programs take a community approach to promoting women’s rights in Tanzania.

Improving Conditions for Affected Women

HelpAge also builds houses and improves sanitation for women who were threatened, attacked, or isolated due to witchcraft accusations. The very design of these facilities keeps the organization’s mission of eradicating witchcraft persecutions in mind. For instance, houses come with fuel-efficient stoves to show that red eyesbelieved to be a sign of witchcraftare simply a result of cooking over smoky fires.

What Next?

HelpAge has already made a significant impact on improving women’s rights in Tanzania. The areas that have implemented projects have seen a 99% reduction in the killing of older women. However, improvement can still be made. The organization believes the national government must change its policies to hold people accountable for witchcraft attacks. HelpAge also advocates modification of inheritance laws so widow’s property cannot be seized. While it is undoubtedly difficult to change the beliefs deeply ingrained in communities, this mindset shift is critical to protecting the livelihoods of thousands. Accusations of witchcraft are a very real threat to women’s rights in Tanzania, but there is hope for a future of safety.

– Fiona Price
Photo: Flickr

SDG 1 in the United Republic of TanzaniaAs of July 1, 2020, the World Bank reclassified the United Republic of Tanzania from a “low-income” nation to a “lower-middle-income” nation. This new status results from a variety of indicators that inform the nation’s Gross National Income (GNI) per capita, such as economic growth, exchange rates and more. While GNI per capita is not a direct measurement of poverty reduction, it does indicate that Tanzania’s economy is progressing in the right direction to meet the U.N.’s first Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) to eradicate poverty globally by 2030. Updates on SDG Goal 1 in the United Republic of Tanzania make it clear that while the country has not met the goal yet, it has overseen a significant reduction in extreme poverty in the last few decades. Here are some updates on SDG Goal 1 in the United Republic of Tanzania.

Updates on SDG Goal 1 in the United Republic of Tanzania

The World Bank’s 2019 Mainland Poverty Assessment found that extreme poverty in the United Republic of Tanzania fell from 11.7% in 2007 to 8.0% in 2018. This significant improvement comes with the finding that the severity of poverty has also declined during this period, meaning that Tanzanians living under the poverty line have become less poor on average.

However, while a smaller proportion of the Tanzanian population lives in extreme poverty today, many remain vulnerable. For every four people who can move out of poverty in Tanzania, three individuals fall into poverty. This demonstrates the constant financial instability that many non-poor Tanzanians face. It also illustrates the importance of effective social welfare programs in reducing vulnerability.

The Importance of Investing in the Rural Economy

One of the initiatives that has contributed to these updates on SDG Goal 1 in the United Republic of Tanzania is a project funded by the African Development Bank. The program, which rolled out in stages between 2012 and 2017, developed market infrastructure and improved the financial security of rural Tanzanians. Its $56.8 million budget allowed it to reach 6.1 million Tanzanians spanning 32 districts. The multifaceted program had a significant impact on the livelihoods of its recipients. Approximately 78% reported an increase in their income after participating in the program. Indeed, the program raised beneficiaries’ average income from $41 in 2012 to $133 in 2017.

In the last few decades, most poverty reduction in Tanzania occurred in rural areas. This is significant because of the persistent disparity in living standards and wealth between rural and urban areas. Although rural households still lag behind urban ones on most indicators of wealth, poverty reduction programs in rural Tanzania helped to narrow this gap. The African Development Bank’s program, for example, refurbished roads and created warehouses in rural areas. This reduced transportation costs for Tanzanian farmers and led to a drop in “post-harvest losses.”

Reforming the Private Sector for Poverty Reduction

The majority of Tanzanians work in the informal sector. Unfortunately, this lack of access to formal finance limits small business owners’ ability rise out of poverty. In order to continue making progress on eliminating extreme poverty in Tanzania, the government and external actors must remain focused on this issue.

Recently, the African Development Bank announced that it will focus its efforts on economic growth in Tanzania’s private sector. In December 2019, the Bank approved a $55 million facility support to the government in implementing regulatory reforms in the private sector. The Bank believes this is a necessary step toward creating an inclusive business landscape in the nation. Additionally, this effort should help Tanzania progress toward SDG Goal 1 by creating more equal and plentiful employment opportunities for Tanzanians.

COVID-19 and Updates on SDG Goal 1 in the United Republic of Tanzania

Due to its focus on economic growth, the Tanzanian government has enacted a relatively lax response to COVID-19 compared to neighboring countries. However, tourism made up 11.7% of Tanzania’s GDP in 2019. Because the pandemic has hit the tourism industry hard, Tanzania’s economy has suffered. In addition, a reduction in agricultural exports has greatly affected the Tanzanian economy. The combination of these factors will inevitably impact the nation’s poor. A study by the International Growth Centre shows that the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent social distancing and lockdown measures have put approximately 9.1% of sub-Saharan Africa back into extreme poverty. As such, the pandemic has certainly hindered Tanzania’s progress on SDG Goal 1.

Looking forward, Tanzania will need a collaborative effort to lift Tanzanians out of extreme poverty once the pandemic is over. The Tanzanian government as well as international actors must work together to recoup Tanzania’s progress toward achieving SDG Goal 1. Though the pandemic has caused some setbacks, Tanzania must continue to focus on poverty eradication in order to meet this goal.

Leina Gabra
Photo: Flickr

Promoting Education in Tanzania
Globally, nine out of 10 children attend school. In terms of global progress, this is a cause for celebration. However, along with uptakes in enrollment rates, keeping students in school has proved increasingly difficult, especially in countries such as Tanzania. Luckily, Elimu Africa is an organization promoting education in Tanzania.

Tanzania’s Barriers to Staying in School

According to UNESCO, 81% of primary-school-age children attend school in Tanzania. Attendance rates drop to 28% in lower secondary and even lower in upper secondary school at only 3%. One can attribute this significant drop to the transition from Swahili to English as the language of instruction between the primary and secondary levels at public schools. Primary level public education in Tanzania is tuition-free, and with more children enrolling in school, the ratio of students to teachers remains high, averaging at about 43:1 in primary schools, and even higher in rural schools. Even with free tuition, many families struggle to afford the costs of attending school including uniforms, transportation, books and loss of labor. Between the switch in the language of instruction, crowded classrooms and school costs, finishing school is not practical for many Tanzanian families.

Elimu Africa & Social Entrepreneurship

Through its social entrepreneurship model, Elimu Africa is promoting education in Tanzania by providing Tanzanian students with the annual scholarships they need to stay in school since 2007.

In a recent interview with The Borgen Project, Richard McMorrow, one of the founders of Elimu Africa, explained the nonprofit’s mission: “We want to provide the finances so that kids can get the best quality education they can get, without worrying about the financial part… Once we commit to a kid, we commit to that kid until they are done with school.”

Elimu Africa works with students’ families to provide scholarship amounts tailored to the family’s needs. This usually amounts to about 75% of the students’ tuition. Families are also able to choose where to send their children, whether it be public (fees totaling between $200-275) or private school (tuition fees between $500-600).

Elimu Africa’s social entrepreneurship model generates the renewable scholarships. McMorrow explained that “We knew that the “raise money, and give away,” [model] was not going to be sustainable. So as we continued to look at different models, I had this notion of social entrepreneurship… We purchase a dala dala, the common transport van that runs routes around different cities in Tanzania, and we use the proceeds to support our mission. We [also] hire a manager, driver, and conductor. Then we make money each month, pay all those people for their services, and we take the profit. Half of it goes to our mission and half of it goes back to Elimu Africa for our initial investment. In 2019 we bought a second dala dala. That’s the idea, that you can continue to have a greater impact without having to continually raise money. And you’re supporting people who are working.”

The Impact

Through the proceeds of its two dala dalas, Elimu Africa is currently sponsoring 32 students in the Kilimanjaro region of Tanzania. A few of its past students have graduated from secondary school and continued on to university.

Moving forward, Elimu Africa is looking to continue promoting education in Tanzania by reaching more students. McMorrow shared that “We got to the point where we didn’t need to raise money and give it away, but I still think that we could do a better job of telling our story and inviting others to join us in our mission,” McMorrow shared.

– Tricia Castro
Photo: Flickr

benjamin mkapaThe world was deeply saddened on July 23, 2020, when former President of Tanzania Benjamin Mkapa passed away at the age of 81. Mkapa, the third president of the United Republic of Tanzania, served as the country’s leader from 1995 to 2005. He was deeply involved with social issues in Tanzania before, during and after his term. Mkapa leaves behind positive impacts in economic reforms, unifying African countries and fighting HIV/AIDS.

 Economic Reforms in Tanzania

When Benjamin Mkapa first entered office in 1995, Tanzania was struggling economically. Sky-high inflation rates augmented by low growth rates put Tanzanians in a difficult situation. However, Mkapa’s strict monetary and financial policies completely turned around the economic outlook of Tanzania. In 1994, Tanzania’s GDP growth rate was an abysmal 1.57%. By the end of Mkapa’s term, though, the GDP growth rate soared to 7.48%. A similar story exists for Tanzania’s inflation rate: in 1994, it was 37.9%, but by 2005, the inflation rate had dropped to 4.36%.

Importantly, Mkapa worked to open the country up to foreign investment. This put Tanzania on the world stage and allowed for an increase in capital for the country to develop and grow. Another of Mkapa’s signature goals was to reduce corruption within the political system. He gained the nickname “Mr. Clean” for his policies aimed at curbing corruption, such as stricter tax collection. These policies resulted in the International Monetary Fund and World Bank canceling Tanzania’s debt.

Unifying Southern African Countries

Former President Benjamin Mkapa always had a vision beyond his own country. He understood that Tanzania’s neighbors faced very similar problems to those he had helped solve during his tenure as president. As such, he had a commitment to the African people and their problems, regardless of their country.

Under Mkapa’s watch, Tanzania played a key role in the liberation of other southern African countries. It was difficult to unite the various self-rule movements from each of the countries, but Mkapa worked religiously to help his neighbors. Mkapa assisted in peace mediation processes for many nearby countries, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo and Kenya. One of his final endeavors was attempting to mediate peace in Burundi, which is still an ongoing issue. Finally, Mkapa was the chairman of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) for one year, from 2003-2004. The SADC is an organization whose goal is to facilitate socioeconomic cooperation among southern African countries.

The Fight Against HIV/AIDS

 Former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa quickly responded to the HIV epidemic while he was in office. He declared HIV to be a national disaster in 1999 and established the Tanzania Commission for AIDS. Mkapa’s quick and decisive response was important in limiting the number of lives affected by the disease.

Mkapa also created TAPAC, the Tanzania Parliamentarians AIDS Coalition. This organization was instrumental in drafting and enforcing legislation about HIV that increased funding for AIDS research and projects. In addition, it helped vulnerable people affected by the disease.

Even after Benjamin Mkapa left office, he stayed on the forefront of AIDS research and response. He helped found the organization Champions for an AIDS-Free Generation, which brings together important African leaders in the fight against AIDS. His work undoubtedly helped countless people deal with and avoid AIDS.

Mkapa’s work with economic reform, African unity and HIV/AIDS all helped to improve the lives of countless citizens in Tanzania as well as southern Africa as a whole. He wholeheartedly believed in the power of the younger generation to make change for a better future. His legacy will surely not be forgotten, as his work lives on today.

– Evan Kuo
Photo: Wikimedia

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.

Advantages

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.

Disadvantages

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