Information and stories on Tanzania

serengeti
On June 20, 2014, The East African Court of Justice (EACJ) announced that it would effectively prevent the Tanzanian Government from constructing a highway through the Serengeti National Park, a 5700 square-mile World Heritage Site. The African Network for Animal Care (ANAW) won the case against the Tanzanian government, which had plans to construct an asphalt highway through the park to foster socio-economic growth for the 1.2 million people living in the area.

The construction plans were drawn to fulfill a promise made by President Jakaya Kikwete during his last presidential campaign, with the goal of connecting developing communities in the Northwest with the rest of Tanzania. The proposed road would be over 33 miles long, cutting directly through the park; currently, the only road in Serengeti runs below the park’s southern boundary. The road would also include a 164-foot “buffer” zone on either side. The entire space road would no longer be considered park land, so commercial traffic—including large trucks—could utilize it freely.

The Serengeti—meaning “endless plains” in the Massai language—is as famous for its annual migration as it is for its breathtaking scenery, drawing 90,000 tourists anually. For ANAW, fighting construction of the road meant protecting both the animals and tourism, which is crucial to Tanzania’s economy. Each year, during the “dry season,” millions of animals migrate circularly through the Serengeti and into the Massai Mara Reserve in Kenya in search of grass and water. Construction in their natural habitat could potentially alter or even halt migration, which is vital to the survival of millions of the animals. Additionally, a major commercial road would decrease the Serengeti’s scenic value for which thousands of people travel to witness each year, contradicting the government’s plans to boost economy in the area.

ANAW’s case continued to cite that not only would construction disrupt the park’s scenic quality and the natural habitat of millions of animals, but it would also pose serious threats to both humans and animals in the area. Increased vehicular traffic could increase the number of traffic-related or roadside animal and human fatalities. Increased traffic also poses serious risks to Serengeti’s ecosystem, increasing air, water, and soil pollution. ANAW’s bottom line: high-impact development could have had severe, damaging effects on the animals and people who call Serengeti home, which isn’t worth it.

Though the government worked to ensure that adequate measures would be taken to prevent harmful or negative consequences tied to the construction, plans have been canceled as of now. Ultimately, environmental protection, sustainable development and the protection of natural resources remained the top issues that influenced the judges at the EAJC. The road—which has sparked debate for several years now—is an issue that is sure to surface again in the future. But, for now, the circle of life will continue as it always has in the Serengeti for humans and animals alike.

– Elizabeth Nutt

Sources: National Geographic, Africa Network for Animal Welfare, Tanzania National Parks, Humane Society International
Photo: National Geographic

hunger in tanzania
It is difficult to believe that large quantities of people could go hungry in a country that relies heavily on agriculture to sustain its economy, but that’s exactly the case in Tanzania. Not only does agriculture account for a quarter of Tanzania’s GDP, but also approximately 75 percent of Tanzanians (most of whom are women) are employed by that sector. Yet nearly half of households don’t have access to adequate amounts of food, and Tanzania’s malnutrition levels are among the highest in Africa. Something isn’t adding up.

What is the problem? It isn’t that Tanzania is exporting all of its food, leaving its own people to starve. Tanzania is actually considered “food self-sufficient,” meaning that it makes most of the food its people need to live. The problem is poverty. Classified as a low-income country and ranked in the bottom fifth of countries in terms of human development, Tanzania simply hasn’t yet developed the infrastructure necessary to get the food from the fields into the hands of those who need it most.

The future is bright, though. Tanzania’s economy has been growing for several years and has the potential for continued growth. Targeted agricultural infrastructure investments could radically reduce the number of hungry Tanzanians, as Tanzania already has excellent land and water resources, in addition to international access via a major port city (Dar es Salaam.) The climate disposes itself to a wide variety of crops, and simply improving the quality and amount of seeds available to Tanzania’s agriculture sector and building the rural roads necessary for the distribution of food could vastly increase Tanzania’s food yield.

International aid organizations like USAID are already working to make hunger in Tanzania a thing of the past. The Tanzanian government is also taking steps to eradicate poverty in its country by instituting policies and programs such as Kilimo Kwanza (which means “agriculture first”) and the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania, which aim to eliminate hunger and reduce poverty by promoting agricultural growth. Motivated to feed themselves, the Tanzanian people simply require the capital to make prosperity a reality.

— Elise L. Riley

Sources: IFPRI, UNDP, USAID, World Food Programme
Photo: WFP

water_in_Tanzania
Earlier this week, Tanzanian government officials vowed to improve water access and sanitation conditions for its millions of citizens residing in urban and rural areas.

Conditions in the country have become extensively dire since the end of the past century. The Tanzanian government intends to establish either a water fund or agency through legislation that it believes will be brought to the government’s House by next year.

Climate change is not helping the problem. The Great Ruaha River has consistently experienced dry spells since the late 1990s. In fact, since the dry spells began, the population along the river basin has doubled from 3 to 6 million inhabitants.

Currently, only 40 percent of Tanzanians have access to clean water. The government hopes that percentage will jump to 75 percent by next year with additional funding for water programs in rural areas.

While a lack of accessible clean water in Tanzania causes health concerns, including diarrhea, cholera and typhoid, the lack of water throughout the country has created problems for farmers and businesses. Inadequate water supplies continue to generate crop shortages and failures.

While water shortages remain a problem, the vast majority of Tanzanians do not have access to sanitation. Critics have argued that the government does not spend enough on water and sanitation facilities given the country’s large and increasing population.

For years, the government has not possessed the necessary funds to improve the problem. Coupled with indifferent and at times uninterested community leaders, the country continues to experience hardships at a local and national level. Numerous towns and cities throughout the country are in need of new water infrastructure and repairs to existing equipment. A 1997 report estimated that an equivalent of 620 million U.S. dollars was required to fix the problem.

Fortunately for Tanzanians, the government has started to begin work on water projects with the intention to provide water for rural and urban communities. It is thought that educating Tanzanians about sanitation and safe water principles may help to alleviate the problem.

Yet, part of the challenge involves getting local community leaders to be both engaged and trained to help oversee the individual projects. Many local leaders lack an adequate knowledge about the water infrastructure.

However, the government intends to train and educate the communities about the projects, some of which has already begun. Observers believe that through a coordinated effort among the government, local leaders and Tanzanians, the country can make a difference in improving sanitation conditions and water in Tanzania.

Ethan Safran

Sources: All Africa 1, All Africa 2, All Africa 3, All Africa 4, All Africa 5, All Africa 6, The Guardian
Photo: Africa 6000 International

serengeti_project_dogs
The Lincoln Park Zoo and MSD Animal Health have secured a joint victory for animal lovers and humanitarians alike. With substantial funding and direction from these two organizations, the Serengeti Health Initiative is vaccinating wild and domestic dogs to combat the spread of rabies in Tanzania, an endeavor that saves both the lives of people and animals in the east African nation.

Although rabies is both preventable and treatable, the developing world continues to suffer a disproportionate number of human cases. An estimated 70,000 people die from rabies every year, most of whom contract the disease in African and Asian nations. By vaccinating wild and domestic dogs, the Serengeti Project has reduced the annual number of rabies cases from 250 to effectively zero in Tanzania, which translates to an estimated 150 lives saved per year.

However, besides the immediate health benefits, the project improves the lives of Tanzanians in more ways than one. Dogs are essential to the welfare of many Tanzanians as they help herd goats, cattle and sheep. These animals also help protect farmers’ livestock from other wildlife. By ensuring these dogs remain healthy, the Project provides an essential service to many Tanzanians who rely on organized, protected livestock for their livelihood. Consequently, citizens are traveling miles to help combat the spread of this preventable, but deadly virus.

The Serengeti Health Initiative has produced a perceivable and positive impact on the outlook of the animal kingdom in Tanzania as well. Since the project’s commencement in 2003, the country’s lion population has experienced a healthy comeback. In addition, African Wild Dogs have successfully re-emerged in the ecosystem after being nearly extinct for the past two decades. However, the biggest success for animal lovers is how many animals are now avoiding this excruciatingly painful fate. Rabies causes a variety of symptoms, including disorientation, seizures and abnormally aggressive behavior before a debilitating paralysis results in death.

The results have been staggering. The Initiative has vaccinated over a million canines since 2003, yet the Lincoln Park Zoo publicly maintains that the fight is far from over: “The project has no end in sight: ongoing vaccinations are needed to continue to protect the Serengeti’s people, pets and predators.”

The project’s continuation is also beneficial to staff members like Anna Czupryna who are determined to learn more about the effects of the vaccination movement on the entire ecosystem. Czupryna also yearns to learn more about these understudied animals that roam Tanzania’s countryside.

“What do these dogs eat? What is pup survival like? What do they do on a daily basis?” She told the Chicago Tribune. “I just was curious. I just wanted to know.”

With so much to learn, staff members may be based in Tanzania for the foreseeable future, helping improve the lives of both man and animal in the east African nation.

– Sam Preston

Sources: The Chicago Tribune, ONE, Lincoln Park Zoo
Photo: Lincoln Park Zoo

Tanzania_Women_Cricket_Africa_sport_female
Historically, cricket in Tanzania has not been a sport played by the nation’s indigenous population. Those with backgrounds from countries with strong cricket programs, such as India and the United Kingdom, traditionally dominated the sport. That demographic has been changing, however, ever since 1999 when Zully Rehemtulla, chairman of the Tanzania Cricket Association, and former player Kazim Nasser became set on bringing cricket to all Tanzanians.

In the initial stages, Rehemtulla estimates that only about 150 people in Tanzania played cricket. He and Nasser decided that it was unacceptable for the sport to not permeate the majority of the country and started to focus their attention on bringing the sport to schools in Dar es Salaam, the capital.

Since then, and after about a century of non-indigenous participation in cricket, the sport has taken off, with Rehemtulla estimating that roughly 15,000 people now play in Tanzania. In August 2013, the International Cricket Council ranked the men’s Tanzanian team at 30th in the world.

Women in Tanzania have joined the game too. Though the Tanzanian women’s cricket team was eliminated from the last two World Cups early into qualification rounds, women’s participation has increased significantly.

Rehemtulla and Nasser state that they run into many barriers, due to Tanzania being one of the most impoverished nations in the world, when attempting to boost the participation of adolescent girls in cricket.

Moreover, they state that when girls become teenagers in Tanzania, their families put pressure on them to get jobs and contribute to family income. In order to offset this hurdle, the pair began offering services to girls who wanted to start playing cricket. They offered housing, HIV and malaria awareness classes, as well as, of course, cricket coaching to make them better players and in the future, effective coaches themselves.

The results of this program were very successful, with women not only continuing to play cricket, but also with many attending universities and maintaining lucrative jobs. Nasser and Rehemtulla report that many of the girls in the program are now financially comfortable and can make up to five times as much as low-wage workers in Tanzania.

Nasser explains that he and Rehemtulla have gotten to know the girls in the program and can serve as mentors and aid in their future development.

“We have spent five years with them so we try to do what is best for them. We train them so they get employment instead of going to work as house maids.” Furthermore, he states, “We as an association tried to give them classes and pay the school fees. We tried our best to help them to ensure they have better lives in the future.”

Cricket is also growing in other African nations. There has, for instance, been increased financial investment in cricket programs, including plans to build a new cricket stadium in Rwanda, largely to support the development of its new women’s team. Cricket has already become the second most popular sport in South Africa, whose men’s team, the Proteas, is globally competitive and whose amateur women’s team is gaining recognition.

Though the Tanzanian women’s team has not made it to the cricket World Cup, Tanzania has participated in a World Cup event. In 1975, Tanzanian athletes competed as a part of an East Africa team that included Uganda, Zambia and Kenya.

Tanzania is still far from achieving its goal of having premier, globally-recognized cricket teams, but with programs supporting female athletes and an increased investment in cricket and cricketers, one day Tanzania could prove its athletic prowess.

Kaylie Cordingley

Sources: BBC Sport, AllAfrica
Photo: BBC News

Poverty_in_Dar_es_Salaam_Tanzania
With a name that quite literally translates into “house of peace,” one might expect Dar es Salaam, the capital of Tanzania, to be fraught with peace and prosperity. However, contrary to its namesake, this locale still grapples with impoverishment, with a Gross National Income (GNI) per capita of less than $530 USD.

Despite this low per capita GNI, Dar es Salaam remains one of the world’s fastest growing cities as an influx of rural farmers from outlaying Tanzanian villages migrate in hopes of success in the city.  Not only is Dar es Salaam one of the world’s fastest growing future municipalities, it is also the largest city in Tanzania, hosting over 4 million residents. A key characteristic of the city is a proliferation of urban sprawl placed in jeopardy by severely inadequate infrastructure.

In an interview with BBC news, Rolens Elias, one of the many immigrants in Dar es Salaam, attests that “It has been hard to set up a life here. I came here by myself and had to wait until I had enough money to bring my wife and family. We all live in one room, but it’s a better life than in the village.” According to Start.org, approximately 50% of the city’s most deprived inhabitants survive on a daily income of $1 USD- an income that falls short of the cost of utilities and adequate healthcare.

It is not as if this widespread impoverishment has gone unnoticed. Many programs have attempted to tackle poverty in Dar es Salaam, however, none of these initiatives have proved fruitful, undermined by insufficient leadership, planning, regulation, and resource constraints.

However, regardless of the humble living conditions in Dar es Salaam, the city still proves more opportune and accommodating than the more rural regions of Tanzania- a country that has consistently ranked among the top ten poorest countries in the world. Indeed, approximately 80% of the country’s impoverished live in rural households with the wealthier members of the populace living within less-destitute urban milieus, such as Dar es Salaam.

By 2015, Tanzania is projected to accomplish three of the seven critical Millennium Development Goals, falling short in the areas of education, maternal health, poverty eradication, malnutrition, and environmental sustainability.Thus, despite present poverty, Dar es Salaam, and moreover, Tanzania, can progress towards a more stable economy, guided by proper leadership and global support.

Phoebe Pradhan

Sources: Rural Poverty Project, Start.org, BBC, IFAD, World Bank
Photo: National Geographic

Soap_Box
A mother’s typical question to a child, “did you wash your hands?” may have seemed like a pesky reminder when growing up, but research shows that hand-washing is one of the most important and live-saving habits that can be instilled in a society. Hand-washing with soap has been shown to reduce the incidence of diarrhea by almost one half and of acute respiratory infections by roughly one third.

Since hand-washing is one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce deaths of children under five from diseases like diarrhea and pneumonia – possibly by up to 70% -, the global health soap brand Lifebuoy is teaming up with USAID to create a neonatal program designed to raise awareness of the link between newborn survival and hand washing with soap.

The program targets new mothers and birth attendants through antenatal clinics and health workers. The campaign also uses innovative videos to appeal to the mother’s maternal instinct by communicating the message “hand-washing helps your child survive.” Persuasive advocates such as the Indian actress Kajol also support the cause and help generate awareness of the importance of hand-washing, especially after having used the toilet or before preparing food.

Another initiative which aims to modify everyday behavior is the Global Scaling Up Hand-washing Project, supported by the World Bank in countries such as Peru, Senegal, Tanzania, and Vietnam. These interventions found that while will and motivation to change habits might be present, hand-washing is also dependent on the ease of access to both water and soap. In this way, the program has aimed to make changes in the way soap and water are accessed in households.

The initiative has also found that in countries such as Senegal, men can also play a critical part in the behavior-changing process. Since they are seen as the role-models or leaders of their households, future interventions will also incorporate campaigns that include or are aimed at men.

– Nayomi Chibana
Feature Writer 

Sources: USAID, World Bank
Photo: Old Picture of the Day

tujijenge_tanzania_microfinance
Tujijenge Tanzania is a microfinance company based in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Founded in 2006, the organization is both the largest and fastest growing microfinance institution (MFI) in Tanzania. Broadly speaking, MFIs are companies that provide financial services to low-income individuals, or that provide services in areas without access to “typical” banking. They operate off of the idea that poverty-stricken individuals can remedy their own situation if given access to financial services.

Today, Tujijenge Tanzania is part of the larger, not-for-profit company Tujijenge Afrika, a Swahili name that roughly translates to mean “let’s build ourselves, Africa.” The company was founded by six microfinance practitioners, who now serve on its board of directors. The founders sought to remedy a problem that they observed in African society by employing their own skills. That is, 90 percent of the country does not have access to financial services. They saw that few MFIs existed, forcing residents to rely on expensive banking alternatives that perpetuated a lifestyle of poverty.

Tujijenge Tanzania aims to provide financial help to individuals, both men and women, who are engaged in all manner of small businesses, ranging from stationery shops to restaurants. The company operates by sending Loan Officers into local communities to give presentations about their services. Interested individuals then form groups of up to 35 members and receive four weeks of training from the Loan Officers. This includes instruction on lending methodology and creating viable business plans. During this period, the group must satisfy several requirements, including electing leaders and opening an account with a commercial bank (the company partners with both Bank of America and Kenya Commercial Bank).

Furthermore, every member is required to save 20 percent of the expected amount of the loan during this training period. This serves the dual purpose of teaching the discipline of making weekly payments, as well as demonstrating that the individual is engaged in a serious, capital-generating business. Upon completion of the training period, if all requirements have been met, the group can make a formal application for a loan. After receiving the money, the group will continue to meet every week, both to make repayments and to discuss general business issues and practices.

Beyond making loans to small business owners, the company is also engaged in a wide variety of product development. Currently, Tujijenge Tanzania is in the process of developing a mobile banking solution for their clients to help serve those in less accessible areas.

In the past, they have developed both solar loan and agricultural loan models in collaboration with organizations such as Oxfam. They have also engaged in market research in the promotion of medical and life insurance all around Africa.

– Rebecca Beyer
Feature Writer

Sources: Tujijenge Afrika, KIVA

obama_power_africa
Eighty-five percent of the population in sub-Saharan Africa does not have access to electricity. In July 2013, President Barack Obama announced the Power Africa five-year initiative as a way of doubling access to power in sub-Saharan Africa.

Power Africa is a partnership between the U.S. government, international and African partners, as well as the private sector. The initiative will begin in six priority countries: Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, and Tanzania. Additionally, Power Africa will partner with Uganda and Mozambique on responsible oil and gas resources management.

Over the next five years, the U.S. government will commit over $7 billion to the effort through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the U.S. Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im), the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA), and the U.S. African Development Foundation (USADF).

 

[big_box left=”of people” bellow=”in sub-Saharan Africa, do not have electricity.”]85%[/big_box]

The private sector has committed $9 billion to date. Some examples include General Electric, Heirs Holding, Symbion Power, Aldwych International, Harith General Partners, Husk Power Systems, and The African Finance Corporation.

Through these partnerships, Power Africa will take a comprehensive approach to providing accessible power to Africa. The initiative will include policy and regulatory best practices, pre-feasibility support, capacity building, long-term financing, political insurance, guarantees, credit enhancements and technical assistance.

Power Africa has already seen success in Nigeria. In September, the Government of Nigeria (GON) announced the liberation of the power sector. Through support from the Power Africa initiative, the power companies were handed over to the private sector. The transfer occurred from the presidential handover of the Licenses and Share Certificates to the new owners of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) successor generation and distribution companies. Power Africa will continue to work with the GON to ensure a seamless transfer of management in efforts to guarantee Nigerian households access to power. Additionally, Power Africa is encouraging the GON to implement measures of sustainability through adequate transmission, gas availability, and a cost reflective tariff.

Access to electrical power is essential for sustainable economic growth and development. At least 20 million new households and commercial entities will gain access to electricity through Power Africa efforts. However, sub-Saharan Africa will require more than $300 billion in investment to achieve universal electricity access by 2030.  Only with greater public and private sector investments can the promise of Power Africa be realized.

– Caressa Kruth

Sources: USAID, White House, African Development Bank Group
Photo: Breitbart

aids_opt
DAR ES SALAAM – Tanzania is likely to face problems in the fight against HIV and AIDS should a decision by major donors—Canada, Denmark, and the United States—to reduce funding prevail. Dr. Fatma Mrisho, the Executive Chairperson of the Tanzania Commission for AIDS (TACAIDS), recently released the warning when she paid a courtesy call on the Coast Regional Commissioner, Mwantumu Mahiza.

Dr. Mrisho said she had met with representatives from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), both of whom had confirmed to her that they would no longer contribute to the National Multi-Sectoral Strategic Framework (NMSF) after 2015.

“We, as a nation, need to get prompt replacement for the funding, failure of which all the achievements made in the fight against HIV and AIDS for more than 20 years will experience a heavy blow,” she added. The Danish and Canadian governments, within their worldwide development agencies, constitute a group of key donors who have been contributing to NMSF for several years.

Dr. Mrisho called on all district councils to begin mobilizing their funds to address the threat of donor withdrawal. She said that while TACAIDS and other local players were currently working tirelessly to make sure the long awaited AIDS Trust Fund (ATF) became operational, local councils should begin raising funds from their own sources to maintain already established HIV/AIDS related interventions.

The NMSF is a strategy designed by the Tanzanian government, through TACAIDS, to address the epidemic, which former President Benjamin Mkapa declared a national disaster nearly a decade ago. Many of the interventions provide life-prolonging drugs for people with HIV, care and support for HIV-positive peoples, and home-based care for them and orphans.

The US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) established by the President George W. Bush a decade ago, has been a leading financier of HIV/Aids interventions in the country, but is also reducing funding. According to PEPFAR, HIV/AIDS is no longer considered an emergency case, and local efforts can easily handle the pandemic in a sustainable way as the infrastructure was already there. But 1.6 million people in Tanzania are still living with the virus—6% of the population—and every year nearly 84,000 die from Aids.

According to TACAIDS’ consolidated budget covering years 2010-2013, the country received about $575 million per year for HIV and AIDS national programs. So far donors have contributed 98% of the funds. The Tanzanian government, on the other hand, has been chipping in a measly 2% to the national program,  0.5%  of which was included in donor-backed General Budget Support. Other key sponsors are The Global Fund (20%) and United Nations Population Fund (2%).

– Scarlet Shelton

Sources: AllAfrica, IRIN, Avert
Photo: Aids Research