Information and stories on Tanzania

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

Top Ten Facts About Living Conditions in Tanzania Tanzania is an East African country best known for its safaris, the Serengeti National Park and the “big five” game, or the elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo and rhino. But what does it feel like to live and work in this country? How do natives of Tanzania go about everyday life? In the article below, top 10 facts about living conditions in Tanzania that will try to answer these and other questions, are presented.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Tanzania

  1. The land is a very important asset in safeguarding food security. The nine main food crops in Tanzania are maize, sorghum, millet, rice, wheat, beans, cassava, potatoes and bananas. The Tanzanian government encourages 25 million young people to choose agricultural industry as their line of work. Tanzania’s agricultural industry makes more than $1 billion in crop export per year and contributes to nearly 30 percent of the country’s GDP.
  2. Self-employment is very popular in the country. One out of every three Tanzanians runs a small business such as a restaurant, shop or a consulting company that employs less than nine employees. Entrepreneurship is a major stepping stone for the citizens of the country as it allows them to be self-sustainable.
  3. Tanzania’s urban population is mostly concentrated in Dar-es-Salaam, the biggest city, who has 4.3 million people and Zanzibar with 1.3 million. Both cities have metro areas and a port of entry. Even though these two cities are urban meccas, 80 percent of Tanzanians still live in rural areas.
  4. Tanzania has a fast population growth and a high fertility rate. In 2012, Tanzania had a population of 49 million and today the population is around 60 million. Tanzanian women have five children on average. In addition, the death rate is falling, and citizens are living well into their late 60’s. It is projected that Tanzania will have 100 million citizens by 2035.
  5. The Government of Tanzania pays some of its deficits thanks to its minerals industry. Gold is a major commodity with $1.46 billion being exported in 2017 and around one million people being employed by the mining industry, making Tanzania the third largest African nation to produce this mineral. The Minerals minister wants at least 10 percent of the mineral company’s earnings to go to the country’s GDP by the year 2025. This stemmed from a tax issue with Acacia Mining Plc, one of the largest gold mines in the country. 
  6. Thirty percent of Tanzania land is a national park and the country is surrounded by three of the largest lakes in the world. However, Tanzania is struggling with water scarcity in rural areas. Only half of the population has access to clean drinking water. There are organizations who aim to fix this problem. The Water Project raises money to build new wells, fix neglected wells, build rain tanks and protect springs. They work with the communities and locals to determine what are the best options and solutions.
  7. Tanzania’s climate ranges from tropical to temperate. Farms and livestock depend on the rain, but years of drought have brought famine to the country. Tanzania has had a drought period since 2017 and is suffering from less than 30 percent of its normal rainfall. Due to the lack of water, almost 4,000 livestock have been killed, With the dying animals and lack of crops, there is a fear this will lead to food shortages in an already poverty-stricken country.
  8. Over 35 percent of Tanzania’s population lives in extreme poverty. A major cause of this is the country’s low pace of urbanization. Around 34 percent of the population lacks basic amenities such as electricity, sanitation and education.
  9. Former president and father of Tanzanian independence Julius Nyerere was a teacher. Today, the country ranks at the bottom in terms of education. While 94 percent of children enroll in school at the primary level, 20 percent of students drop out before finishing, and only 15 percent complete secondary school. Some reasons for this are lack of trained teachers, lack of money and not lack of space in schools. In 2015, Tanzania abolished school fees and tuition in hope that more children would be able to attend school. But even though official school fees are no longer required many students still can not afford to attend lessons due to other costs such as uniforms, transportation and books.
  10. In Tanzania, psychology does not represent a discipline. Psychological services are not yet regulated and universities do not even have a department named for it. Bloom Consultancy is a local organization that is hoping to educate Tanzanians on how to be mentally healthy and keep maintaining good mental well-being. Most natives would compare mental health with having a mental illness. Recently, with technology development, there has been an increase in awareness of this issue. Tanzanian Psychological Association has been founded in 2009 and Muhumbili National Hospital in Dar has also started providing support groups and psychology educational seminars for Tanzanians.

Some of the top 10 facts about living conditions in Tanzania are hard to comprehend while others show signs of hope for the country. Even though Tanzania has areas that need improvement, like education and universal access to clean water, it has made strides in improving mental health acceptance, self-employment and usage of natural resources. The country is improving with help from the government and the people who call Tanzania home.

– Jennifer O’Brien

Photo: Unsplash

Top 5 Countries Receiving Economic Aid in 2019
In the fiscal year 2019, the U.S. Federal Government plans on spending $1.24 trillion. Out of this amount, foreign assistance will account for $27 billion. This spending is broken down into several categories including economic development. Approximately $2 billion will be directed toward generating economic growth in developing countries. In the text below, the top five countries receiving the economic aid in 2019 are presented.

Jordan

The first country on the list is Jordan. Jordan will receive $1.27 billion in aid and roughly 48 percent of that money is planned for economic development. The focus of this aid is on a plan called the Microeconomic Foundation for Growth Assistance. The goal of this funding is to create a stable economic landscape that will allow the private sector to invest. This will aid Jordan by creating both monetary and fiscal policies that will allow the government to have a greater control of the economy.

These reforms are needed due to the economic crisis that Jordan is currently facing. Jordan’s debt makes up 94 percent of the country’s GDP. The cost of living has also risen dramatically in the past years. The Economist ranked Amman, the capital of Jordan, as the most expensive Arab city to live in. However, Jordan is working to end its economic crisis. Recently, Jordan received a $723 million loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and plans to lower the country’s debt to 77 percent of GDP by 2021.  

Afghanistan

The second country on the list is Afghanistan. This country is projected to receive $93 million for economic development. Most of this funds ($57 million), will be aimed toward agricultural development. This money will be focused on the distribution, processing and trade of agricultural goods.

In 2018, Afghanistan’s GDP increased by five times compared to 2002. However, a large trade deficit threatens Afghanistan’s economy. Most of Afghanistan’s economy relies on imports and this is the main reason why the country needs help in distributing agricultural goods. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) provided airlifts in 2017 to help export goods to international markets. USAID also provided alternative road transport. In total, this organization helped to move $223 million of goods.  

Kenya

In 2019 Kenya, will receive $624 million of aid from the United States. Out of this amount, 5 percent will be aimed at economic development of the country, totaling $29 million. Almost 80 percent of this money will be for agriculture. Like Afghanistan, the focus of the aid is towards the distribution, processing and trade of agricultural goods.

In Kenya, agriculture makes up 27 percent of the country’s GDP and it is vulnerable to various kinds of natural disasters, like droughts. In 2014, Kenya reported a national drought emergency and the drought left millions of people vulnerable.

The drought continued to 2018 and USAID is studying the situation and working on solutions to help lessen the impact of the drought. In the period of 2015 to 2017 USAID implemented several programs to help create more drought resistant incentives for farmers. Kenya’s GDP is expected to grow by 5.5 percent in 2018, compared to 4.8 in 2017. This is directly related to a better weather situation in the country.

Tanzania

Economic aid directed toward Tanzania is projected to be 1 percent of the aid package, which equals $7 million. This amount will be aimed towards agriculture.

Agriculture makes up for 25 percent of Tanzania’s GDP and around 75 percent the country population is employed in this sector. The United States sees this as an opportunity to increase incomes and living conditions for Tanzanians. USAID has been working on a program in Tanzania known as Feed the Future. This program increases competitiveness, productivity and creates infrastructure so farmers can reach more markets.

In 2017, over 400,000 Tanzanians have benefited from Feed the Future. This is reiterated by the fact that rice productivity doubled per acre and the average gross margins for horticulture reached $3,900 per acre.

Uganda   

Uganda is projected to receive $461 million in 2019. Four percent or almost $19 million are going towards economic development. Majority of this amount is going towards agriculture development.

Like Tanzania, a large percentage of Uganda’s GDP and workforce are concentrated in agriculture. Twenty-four percent of the country’s GDP is made up of agriculture and farming employs two-thirds of the population.

USAID implemented the Feed the Future Program in Uganda as well. One of the most important initiatives was implementing an e-verification sticker in fruits sold that was intended for keeping track of purchase inputs. This initiative is aimed at combating the $1 billion loss that Uganda faces from counterfeit inputs on yearly basis. It also laid private investors consciences to rest, since they invested over $6 million in Uganda’s agricultural business in 2016.

In summary, the top five countries receiving the economic aid from the U.S. in 2019 are Jordan, Afghanistan, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. The United States government invests billions of dollars every year into foreign aid. One of the best ways to use that money is to invest in economic development, which helps improve the conditions of people living in developing countries.

Economic stability is one of the most crucial factors in ensuring safety across the world. 

– Drew Garbe
Photo: Flickr

Credit Access in Tanzania

Tanzania is a highly populous East African country with a rapidly growing economy. The country’s average GDP growth of an estimated six percent has indicated significant economic growth and opportunity in the past decade, but credit access in Tanzania remains a challenge for many of the nation’s 56 million people.

Credit Access in Tanzania

In fact, Tanzania scored 13th out of 15 countries in Sub Saharan Africa for credit accessibility. Credit access in Tanzania is vital for the financial success of the country, which has both an annually growing population in the workforce and a high rate of poverty.

As an emerging market, many enterprises in Tanzania have struggled with restricted credit access, and 70 percent of all Tanzanian Small and Medium Enterprises, or SMEs, have no formal credit access at all. In fact, only 15 percent of the population has formal access to credit through banks. This lack of credit does not mean that Tanzanians are not borrowing money, as over half of those in the labor market have taken loans at some point.

Small and Medium Enterprises Loans

Rather than access credit formally, however, approximately 63 percent of Tanzanians use friends and family to access loans. Conversely, formal bank loans only accounted for three percent of all bank deposits in Tanzania.

Credit access in Tanzania is particularly important for Small and Medium Enterprises. According to a 2017 study conducted by the University of Dodoma in the Tanzanian capital, banks and microfinance corporations have enough liquidity to offer Small and Medium Enterprises loans.

Owners of SMEs, however, perceive these formal loans to be high risk due to the high-interest rates, strict loan conditions and numerous collaterals placed on these loans. This study determined that the Tanzanian government should intervene in the nation’s market “to regulate the conditions and requirements for loans” financing SMEs. This could be done by establishing credit bureaus in large cities to increase credit access in Tanzania for SMEs.

Tanzania’s New Credit Plan

Due to the difficulty for many Tanzanians to formally obtain a loan, as well as the mistrust of the population in formal bank loans, the federal government has proposed a new solution for credit access in Tanzania. As of April 2018, the Tanzanian government has enacted a new credit plan to improve private lending and reduce the frequency of bad loans.

This regulation of interest rates in banks, however, is not intended to be a direct rate cap, and should not hinder banking sector growth. This plan had been presented before in 2011, but was rejected by the government for fears of restricting the free market. While this move may be beneficial for SMEs in Tanzania, some banks with capital ratio issues may be hurt by the policy, further negatively affecting the economy.

High-Interest, Low Loans

Limited credit access in Tanzania, much like other developing countries, constricts the country’s economy and scope of financial operations. While Tanzanians often seek loans from sources other than banks, SMEs and other aspects of the country’s private sector have suffered the negative consequences of high-interest rates and low loan offers from banks.

Although capital ratio issue in some banks complicates the possible credit solution, the government of Tanzania seeks to resolve these problems through its new credit plan in order to continue to augment the nation’s economic growth.

– Matthew Cline

Photo: Flickr

Sustainable Agriculture in TanzaniaThe agricultural sector of Tanzania employs over 66 percent of this African nation’s workforce and accounts for nearly one-quarter of its GDP. Coffee, cashew nuts, and cotton are Tanzania’s top exports next to gold. Other important agricultural products in Tanzania include sisal, tea, pyrethrum (an insecticide made from chrysanthemums), tobacco, cloves, corn, wheat, cassava, bananas, various fruits, and vegetables, cattle, sheep and goats. In 2016 and 2017 Tanzania exported over $5 billion in goods. Because agriculture is such an important pillar of the economy, sustainable agriculture in Tanzania has special attention of big and small groups, domestic and international.

Integrated Production and Pest Management Programme

Two of the largest and most powerful supporters of sustainable agriculture in Tanzania are the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the European Union. With the help of the European Union, the FAO established the Integrated Production and Pest Management Programme (IPPPA) in Africa in 2001 and through their Farmer Field School Approach, they have been working hand in hand with local governments and NGOs to improve food security and economic stability of farming communities in Africa. The food security portion of the program helps by training farmers to mitigate the risks associated with climate change and limited water access.

Domesticated cereal grains is what kick-started civilization and we have been reliant on them ever since. In 2013, cereal grain production reached a peak but due to insects, climate change, and lack of new farming equipment, it has been hard to surpass the yield of this year. The IPPPA is trying to rectify the situation with sustainable agricultural practices in Tanzania.

European Union-Africa partnership on cotton

Cotton has become an important crop from the cash perspective. Unfortunately, cotton needs a lot of water and a lot of pesticides to make sure the crop produces a proficient yield. When done incorrectly water supplies can become poisonous or dry up which causes soil quality to degrade. In 2014 the IPPPA began to specifically support the cotton industry in Tanzania with the Support Programme for the Consolidation of the Action Framework under the EU-Africa Partnership on Cotton.

The program heavily favors the investors in the Tanzanian cotton industry but in the long run, will help sustainable agriculture in Tanzania. The plan is to increase support of sustainable farming to increase the stability of the cotton yield. The deal will include better education and better equipment for farmers. A deal like this can be good for the Tanzanian economy in total. Belgium is already one of the countries largest trading partners.

Sustainable Agriculture organization

There is an important NGO operating in Tanzania, called Sustainable Agriculture Tanzania (SAT). This organization has been in operation since 2011. It does exactly what it says on the label. It promotes sustainable agricultural practices in Tanzania through its multi-platform plan. Dissemination, research, application, and networking about the information about sustainable agricultural practices. It also runs farmer training centers where people from other NGOs and agricultural professionals can share ideas and learn new techniques.

Tanzania’s agricultural sector looks to be stable and heading in a right direction. This has a huge importance for the nation. Currently, all farmland is owned and leased on 99-year leases to farmers. There has been tension and disagreement over if this should change. The biggest fear is that foreign investors will buy the land and hold too much power over the Government, the people and the market. The current relationship is working for both Tanzania and their investors. Hopefully, this harmony will continue and sustainable agriculture in Tanzania will flourish.

– Nicholas Anthony DeMarco
Photo: Google

Electricity Coverage Rising in AfricaIt is hard to imagine life without electricity. In the American standard of living, electricity pervades every aspect of a person’s life, from food storage to entertainment and everything in between. In Africa, however, only 30 percent of people have access to electricity.

Power Africa

Power Africa is a USAID agency that aims to provide people in Africa with access to electricity. They plan to make 60 new electricity connections and generate 30,000 more megawatts (MW) of electricity across the continent by 2030. The goal is to do this by harnessing the sun, wind, lake water, and natural gas to power rural areas that do not have access to electricity.

Power Africa tracks its progress on various projects by tracking business transactions with African power companies. For example, in 2016, they made a deal with the U.S.-Africa Clean Energy Finance Initiative (ACEF), the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), and the U.S. Department of State to provide $30 million worth of financing of 32 renewable energy projects in 10 countries in Africa. With Power Africa’s help, 90 business transactions have been completed and 25 of Africa’s 55 countries now have access to some form of electricity. Examples from Power Africa actions are described in a text below.

Mali

Although the demand for electricity in Mali is currently greater than the supply, that does not mean that there is no supply at all. Electricity in Mali currently comes from mostly hydraulic and thermal energy (55 and 44 percent, respectively). Power Africa plans to help Mali produce an additional 80 MW of hydroelectric energy, more than 300 MW from biomass, and unlimited MW from the sun.

Electricity usage has already gone up in Mali. Major mining companies increased their energy consumption by 136 MW (189 percent) between 2008 and 2011. In 2016, the government passed a law mandating partnerships between public and private electric companies in order to increase MW production. The ultimate goal is to make an additional 20,000 MW of energy and distribute it to 50 million people by 2020.

Namibia

Currently, Namibia gets most of its electricity from power grids in South Africa, Zimbabwe, and other nearby countries. However, electricity demand in these countries is way higher than supply, forcing Namibia to find ways to generate its own electricity. As of 2008, Namibia can only generate 393 MW from 3 stations, while the national demand is 533 MW.

One of these stations, the Ruacana power station, is dependent on the flow of water from the Kunene River, which flows out of Angola. Another station, the coal-run Eck power station, is costly to operate and maintain. Eck, along with the oil-based Paratus power station, is only used for short-term peaks in electricity demand.

For the time being, Namibia still needs to have its electricity needs met by its neighbors. The Caprivi link is a transmission line that connects Namibia’s power grid to those in Zambia and Zimbabwe. This provides the country with an additional 600 MW, fulfilling Namibia’s electricity needs. In 2007, Namibia consumed 3.6 TWh of electricity.

Tanzania

Most of Tanzania’s electricity (90 percent) comes from biomass. This has resulted in mass deforestation and, thus, is far from ideal for the ecosystem. Only 18.4 percent of Tanzanian citizens have access to electricity in any form. Currently, the country is financially incapable of extending the power grid into all rural areas.

In 1975, the government founded the Tanzania Electric Supply Company Ltd (TANESCO). TANESCO has a nationwide monopoly on electricity production and distribution. However, the Ministry of Energy and Minerals (MEM) is trying to end this monopoly by allowing companies to get licenses to generate, transmit and distribute electricity. The Rural Energy Agency (REA) is slowly getting electricity into rural areas. With these services, the government aims to make electricity available to everyone in Tanzania, and one can see electricity coverage rising from their efforts.

Conclusion

In the modern day, electricity seems like a basic ingredient for life that it seems like everyone should have it. The people in Power Africa agree and we can see electricity coverage rising in Africa as a result of their efforts. Mali is making more energy from more sources than ever, Namibia is starting to make its own electricity, and Tanzania is spreading electricity out as far as it can. Africa is becoming more and more electrified, reaching the ultimate goal- provide access to electricity for everyone on the continent.

– Cassie Parvaz
Photo: Flickr