Information and stories on Tanzania

Agriculture in Tanzania
USAID is working jointly with the Tanzanian government to reduce poverty and improve nutrition, especially in the agricultural sector. The Feed the Future initiative and the Tanzanian government provide targeted investments focused on developing the private sector. In turn, these investments will contribute to the long-term sustainability of programs that reduce poverty and improve nutrition. In practice, these investments assist small-holder farmers employed in agriculture in Tanzania to increase their production and be more competitive in the production and marketing of their products. These efforts have consequently increased farmers’ access to markets because of a greater ability to construct rural feeder roads.

Although problems remain, there are sure signs of progress for this U.S. and Tanzania partnership. Among these returns on investment, participating farmers have seen their productivity of rice per acre close to doubling and now “at least 450,000 people have benefited from the Feed the Future value chain interventions,” according to USAID. Another promising partnership addressing the sustainability of agriculture in the country is Tanzania’s own, Sustainable Agriculture Tanzania.

Tanzania’s Circumstances in Numbers

According to USAID Feed the Future report from November 2019, the United Republic of Tanzania is one of the fastest-growing economies in Africa. Success in economic growth aside, more than 49% of the population suffers from extreme poverty, living on less than $1.90 per day. Furthermore, more than 34% of children younger than the age of 5 suffer from stunting and about 45% of women of reproductive age are anemic. Much of Tanzania’s public health and economic woes are in part attributable to the agricultural sector, a sector that employs 75% of the population and provides about a third of GDP.

Sustainable Agriculture Tanzania (SAT)

Sustainable Agriculture Tanzania (SAT), a member of the umbrella organization International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM Organics International), is a solutions-based organization that combines education, marketing, research and networking to improve agriculture in the country. SAT alleviates food insecurity, poverty and malnutrition by addressing unsustainable farming practices through educating, marketing, researching and networking in Tanzania.

This combination of tactics has resulted in small-holder farmers across Tanzania seeing significant benefits. The benefits these expertise programs have brought to Tanzania include an average 38% increase in participating farmers’ income and an increase in production reported by 66% of facilitated farmers, according to SAT. The health benefits for Tanzanians entail near-zero exposure to environmental toxins because farmers avoid the use of chemicals and 76% of facilitated farmers reported a more balanced diet.

Both of these developments have had a positive impact on public health in the country. As for gains in sustainability, after SAT programs assist farmers, such as the organization’s soil management programs, facilitated farmers saw their agricultural water consumption reduced by 59%, SAT reports. In total, SAT programs have promoted progress in attaining a more profitable, healthier and sustainable Tanzanian agriculture.

SAT has been a monumental partner in Tanzanian agriculture, hence the organization’s acceptance of the “One World Award” in February 2022, an award given to those organizations and people who make the world a better place. SAT has made leaps in progress in Tanzania getting closer to reaching the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), but the ambitions of IFOAM extend to the rest of the world.

Exporting SAT’s Success

IFOAM, a coalition of successful organizations such as SAT, operates on the international level promoting organic agriculture in pursuit of the U.N. SDGs that aim for zero hunger (SDG 2), good health and well-being (SDG 3) and responsible production and consumption (SDG 12). Organic agriculture can aid in achieving SDG 2 for zero hunger because it increases and stabilizes yields.

This, in turn, saves money that would otherwise go toward chemical treatment. SDG 3 for good health and well-being is on its way to success since farmers, after learning from said programs, are ceasing to use polluting synthetic chemicals on crops, which, in turn, reduces the harmful effects of chemical exposure on people. Furthermore, SDG 12 for responsible production and consumption is closer to success because these programs consolidate value chains, easing the ability of local economies to procure food.

Organizations such as SAT have proven instrumental for Tanzania, creating long-term sustainable development in the country’s agriculture. Exporting such success is a task for far larger organizations, such as IFOAM. The path toward attaining the U.N. SDGs will require the continued commitment of governments, the private sector and local partners and NGOs like SAT and IFOAM. Going forward, the combined efforts of organizations such as SAT and IFOAM stand as promising signs of progress toward reducing global poverty and a more sustainable world.

– Chester Lankford
Photo: Flickr

Tanzania Builds Infrastructure
The Tanzanian government announced that it will begin construction on a $1.9 billion railway throughout the country to better increase the country’s infrastructure and connect communities. The country will pay for the railway from loans and the government said it will not raise or impose any taxes on the citizens to afford the railway. The railway is part of a larger railway line that will cover 1,219 km with the hopes of boosting Tanzanian trade with its neighbors. The section that the government announced will connect two towns, Makutopora and Tabora, in central Tanzania. Once the full 1,219 km railway line is complete, it will run from Tanzania’s Indian Ocean port, Makutopora, to a port city on the shores of Lake Victoria, Tabora, which Tanzania also shares with Uganda and Kenya. During the announcement of the project, Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan stated that the line will be a priority because of its importance in connecting the country to its neighbors.  The fact that Tanzania is building infrastructure will help bridge the divided country.

Earlier Railway Construction

In January 2021, the Tanzanian government announced a different railway line that would be built in the country using Chinese companies. The announcement, which occurred a year ago, lengthens Chinese involvement in Tanzania to now more than 10 years. In the announcement, the government of Tanzania said that the railroad will connect Mwanza to Dar es Salaam and span a distance of 341 kilometers from one side to the other. The announcement was part of a 2,561 kilometer of new railways through the country that will connect Dar es Salaam to the rest of the country.

According to Reuters, China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation and China Railway Construction Limited won the contract worth 3.0617 trillion shillings or $1.32 billion to build the railway. The former has already won several other projects in Tanzania and is now working on the railway.


In recent years, the fact that Tanzania is building infrastructure increased its debts as more infrastructure projects are in the works across the country. In 2021, fiscal spending was $15.7 billion while donors only covered 8% of the amount. The government expects to see a 6.3% growth in the economy by 2023 from 2021.

In July 2020, Tanzania was upgraded from a low-income country to a lower-middle-income country and the government has hopes of being a middle-income country by 2030. To reach this goal the government of Tanzania is working to develop its infrastructure, energy, and agriculture sectors to grow its economy and provide more opportunities for exports.

Along with this, the private sector is working to expand mining in a country that has faced underinvestment in the past. Through the COVID-19 pandemic, Tanzania was not as badly affected as its neighbors mostly affecting its travel and tourism sector of the economy.

Extreme Poverty

It is estimated that the percentage of people in extreme poverty in Tanzania increased from 49.3% to 50.4% from 2019 to 2020 and 1 million Tanzanians have fallen into that group in 2020 alone.

Before this time and the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the country was experiencing rather low poverty rates based on the national poverty line according to data from the World Bank with 26.4% of the population living in poverty. An overwhelming majority of the urban population at 71% falls under the non-poor category while only 42% of the rural population falls into the same category.

The fact that Tanzania is building infrastructure could benefit future generations as they grow up and improve Tanzania’s ability to make sure it can take care of its citizenry and provide a reliable source of transportation and movement of people and goods throughout the country.

– Julian Smith
Photo: Flickr

Railway Connection
In January 2022, the governments of two African countries, Burundi and Tanzania, entered into a $900 million agreement to build a connecting railway between the two nations’ capitals. This railway deal has come about due to both countries’ economies showing remarkable growth and a significant number of added jobs in both nations’ workforces. Additionally, the deal will positively impact trade and decrease poverty rates for both Tanzania and Burundi.

Poverty in Burundi

Burundi is a landlocked African country that ranks as the most impoverished nation globally. The country struggles with food insecurity and a poverty rate that is challenging to decrease. Burundi’s poverty rate now hovers at about 70%, increasing from 64.9% in 2013.

A lack of access to clean water and Burundi’s dependence on agriculture as a primary source of income exacerbates Burundi’s struggles. Agriculture’s status as the nation’s main source of income is likely to change as the progress on the railway commences.

Burundi’s economy dried up in 2015 as the government went through electoral changes that led to a contraction in the economy, according to the World Bank. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic also led to a halt in Burundian economic growth. However, the new railway deal with Tanzania could increase trade and job availability and boost both countries economically.

Poverty in Tanzania

Tanzania has struggled to improve its economy and decrease its poverty rate, although it has had more success in this regard in comparison to Burundi. Since 2000, Tanzania’s economy has ranked as “one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies,” with an annually increasing GDP of almost 7%. However, Tanzania’s economic growth dipped to 2.1% in fiscal year 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic pummeled the country. Fortunately, Tanzania is bouncing back economically as the nation regains its footing.

Tanzania’s primary business sectors with the most significant economic contributions are agricultural processing and mining. Both business sectors remained steady in the past year in terms of work and output, and even with inflation and the ongoing pandemic, the sectors remained stable in their economic contributions. With that in mind, the nation is determined to branch out to other economic sectors and not rely so heavily on agriculture and mining. The railway deal between Tanzania and Burundi will ignite new economic growth and development opportunities for various sectors in Tanzania.

Tanzania and Burundi’s Workforces

Tanzania and Burundi have large workforces in agriculture and mining. In 2020, Tanzania’s agricultural workforce accounted for close to 65% of the country’s overall workforce while Tanzania’s mining industry employed more than 310,000 individuals in 2019. Up to 160,000 Burundians rely on mining for their livelihoods. As of 2019, more than 85% of the Burundian population depended on agriculture as their primary source of income.

Tanzania’s and Burundi’s governments are determined to expand their workforces to generate economic growth with the new railway deal. Burundi’s industrial and structural workforce contributes less than 10% to the country’s overall gross domestic product (GDP). The average salary for a Burundian construction worker is 690,000 BIF, roughly $340 per month. Anyone working in construction in Burundi is heavily underpaid.

Tanzania’s construction workers often do not have formal training. The monthly salary of Tanzanian construction workers is slightly higher than the average wages of Burundi’s construction workers. The highest average salary for a Tanzanian construction worker is 1,830,062.00 TZS, roughly $700 a month.

The Tanzanian and Burundian governments are implementing a railway deal to develop a railroad to connect. This could help the countries could provide new jobs, increase salaries for construction workers and lessen dependence on agriculture and mining.

The Potential Impact of the Railway Deal

The two governments developed the railway deal to create inter-nation trade and travel and improve both economies simultaneously. Developing the integrated railway network will take several months and maintenance will require trained professionals to begin construction and keep the railways functional.

In the United States, 119 miles or 190 kilometers of rail work require 4,000 professionals for construction and maintenance and additional work in the surrounding areas. The Tanzania and Burundi deal will span a minimum of 282 kilometers; thus, the potential for job opportunities in Tanzania and Burundi is significant.

There are expectations of further possibilities for increased trade and new partnerships to develop as the railway starts operating. Tanzania and Burundi expect the added trade routes will enhance trade with the East African Communities (EAC), according to All Africa.

Tanzania and Burundi’s trade efforts are significant in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). For all regional markets in Africa, the Tanzania and Burundi new railway system could create inter-regional trade, boost employment rates, drop poverty rates and increase salaries for all involved.

– Clara Mulvihill
Photo: Flickr

In the past decade, microfinance has soared as a strategy to alleviate poverty. BRAC International, one of the world’s largest nongovernmental organizations, supports microfinancing in seven countries in Africa and Asia. Importantly, BRAC’s microfinance program supports people to engage in financial activity to overcome poverty.


Microfinance is a financial practice that lends small sums to people with few means to support their small businesses. The goal is for small businesses to earn a profit and then pay back the loan. The microfinance institution then loans the capital out again. Through this cycle, people are able to rise out of poverty. Microfinancing frames poverty as the deprivation of the ability to participate in economic and political processes. By that logic, if people can obtain microloans, these individuals will engage in financial activity and overcome poverty.

Studies have only found limited evidence of the efficacy of microfinancing at eradicating poverty. However, the practice is far from a failure. Specifically, the capital lent to the impoverished provides stability in their lives, easing the day-to-day anxiety about monetary shortages. In addition, studies have found that people who take out microloans are motivated to invest more time into their businesses. Though not miraculously transformative, microfinancing has achieved overall positive results in reducing poverty.

BRAC Programs

Sir Fazle Hasan Abed founded BRAC in 1972 to help refugees from the Bangladesh Liberation War. Since then, BRAC has created eight programs to empower people suffering from poverty, social injustice, illiteracy and disease. Microfinance is one of the eight programs of the organization. BRAC believes that the financial inclusion of impoverished people and communities is an essential step toward ending poverty.

More than 660,000 people benefit from BRAC’s microfinance program, which operates in Bangladesh, Myanmar, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Liberia. Along with loans, BRAC also provides financial literacy training to the borrowers. This teaches borrowers to be responsible with money and make better financial decisions. In addition to microfinance services, the organization also provides communities with programs like agriculture classes, youth education and health care. When paired with these programs, microfinance has an even greater impact on communities.

BRAC’s Focus on Women

More than 96% of BRAC’s borrowers are women. One female entrepreneur, Kadiatu Conteh from Sierra Leone, exemplifies how BRAC impacts its beneficiaries. Conteh’s sister introduced her to BRAC. At the time, Conteh’s family was struggling to make ends meet and she was trying to earn money by selling drinks with only a cooler. Conteh took out a loan and invested the money in more beverages for her business. Slowly, she increased her profits. After four years with BRAC, she accumulated enough funds to invest in her own store where she now sells household items.

Selina Karoli Fissoo also benefited from BRAC’s microfinance program. With other women in the city of Arusha, Tanzania, Fissoo formed a microfinance group to receive loans and financial literacy training from BRAC. She invested her first loan into her small grocery business, and as her profits increased, she applied for larger loans. After more than 10 years of working with BRAC, Fissoo has a large retail store and even dabbles in poultry farming.

The Benefits of Microfinance to Alleviate Poverty

Conteh and Fissoo are just two of hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs who have prospered from the help of BRAC’s microfinance programs. Microloans provide stability in the lives of the impoverished and can motivate people to invest more time into their businesses. Especially when coupled with other programs, microfinance is an effective method for alleviating poverty.

– Alison Ding
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The radio is a powerful poverty-fighting tool; it is low-cost and easily accessible to people in rural communities as a source of information. For children and teachers alike in these areas, educational radio programs are a valuable resource. By helping to educate children, radio gives children the skills that they need to acquire a job in the future and rise out of poverty. Radio also increases access to news and information in impoverished communities and keeps people up to date on societal developments. Additionally, nonprofits and campaigns striving to combat poverty can spread their messages through radio and garner support for their causes. Radio can combat poverty by educating people in rural communities and helping nonprofits share their missions. One such radio station is Loliondo FM, which operates in Tanzania. Here is how Liondo is educating people in rural Tanzanian communities.

Loliondo FM Benefits the Maasai

The Maasai tribe, in particular, benefits from listening to the Loliondo FM radio program. The Maasai tribe, located in parts of Tanzania and Kenya, has retained its culture and traditional way of living despite the tides of the modern world. However, due to modern developments and land acquisition of the Maasai’s traditional lands, the tribe faces both displacement and high rates of poverty.

With the increasing calls for change comes the need to educate the Maasai children. Radio stands as the most convenient method in this regard. Its portability and ability to tune into stations over long distances make it ideal for the nomadic lifestyle of the Maasai people located in Tanzania. Through radio, the Maasai learn about a range of social, economic, political and health issues. Some topics include poverty elimination efforts, human rights, the impacts of female genital mutilation, HIV/AIDS prevention and the importance of girls’ education. Loliondo radio increases the Maasai’s awareness of global issues and readies them for future changes.

Promoting Gender Equality and Women’s Rights

Loliondo FM especially benefits the girls of the Maasai tribe. The Maasai communities are traditional and typically patriarchal in nature with distinct gender roles. Through programs on gender equality and women’s empowerment, Loliondo FM is working to improve conditions for Maasai women, educating them to make informed choices in their lives. Tribal women in rural Tanzanian communities learn about issues such as gender-based violence, pregnancy and sexual health by listening to radio programs.

Girls who cannot attend school can learn through radio programs. The radio station also functions as a reporting system for gender-based violence incidents, with many women reaching out to through radio for help. Upon receiving these calls, Loliondo FM works with local community officials and members to resolve these cases. Through education and intervention, Loliondo FM is improving the lives of Maasai women and girls.

Conserving the Environment

Loliondo FM also encourages “active citizenship” to safeguard the environment and protect the livelihoods of the people in rural Tanzanian communities dependant on the environment. To raise awareness of the issue, Loliondo FM created educational radio broadcasts in addition to developing discussion groups “for sharing lessons.” The radio station “took [260] students to Serengeti National Park” in Tanzania to teach them about the importance of environmental conservation.

Thanks to Loliondo FM, 700,000 people received environmental education updates. The radio station also gathered the community to plant 1,000 trees around community schools. Loliondo FM’s work brings awareness to crucial global issues while giving the youth opportunities to make a difference.

The radio’s portability and affordability make it an ideal tool for bringing education to Africa’s tribal people and helping to lift them out of poverty. Through educational programming and coordination with community members, Loliondo FM raises awareness of social, health and gender equality issues while positively impacting the environment.

– Alison Ding
Photo: Flickr

Tanzania's Literacy Rate
Illiteracy affects people across the world in all aspects of life. For example, people with low literacy skills are more likely to have health problems because they cannot read prescription labels. Also, they may grow isolated in a world where technology is rapidly evolving. At 77.89%, Tanzania’s literacy rate is quite positive; however, it has declined by over 10% since the 1970s. At that time, Tanzania had one of the highest in the world. That is why the government has made improving Tanzania’s literacy rate a priority.

Illiteracy in Tanzania

Recent studies have shown that Tanzanian students are unable to write their own names, read a sentence or solve a basic mathematics problem. During the first two decades of its independence in 1961, adult literacy classes helped the country boost its literacy rate. Unfortunately, these classes are virtually non-existent today. Also, a reduced government budget and lower donations to fight illiteracy perpetuate the decline in literacy rates. In turn, this lower funding has led to teacher staffing shortages, overcrowded classrooms and subpar teacher training. Curricular and classroom material shortages are also results from budget cuts. Finally, these poor conditions have led to high dropout rates which accelerate illiteracy.

Government Solutions

To reach the goal of 100% literacy by 2030, the Tanzanian government has launched the National Adult Literacy and Mass Education Rolling Strategy 2020/21 to 2024/25. The plan includes reviving more literacy courses across the country. Additionally, it creates a database to track and monitor educational progress. Third, the plan funds an increase in learning materials and teacher training. Fourth, it funds research on the best literacy methods. Other plan initiatives include the implementation of multimedia technologies in the classroom and educational outreach to young women. In addition, the plan includes supplying radios to rural areas and publishing local newspapers.

The plan to boost Tanzania’s literacy rate will account for 15% of its national budget, but it is an investment the country is willing to make. Not only is it an investment in educational opportunities for children and adults, but it will also pay dividends to its economy. While Tanzania reached an economic milestone by evolving from a low-income country to a lower-middle-income country in 2020, the country’s poverty rate during that year was still high at 27.2%. James Mdoe of Tanzania’s education ministry views the literacy plan as key to combating poverty. He suggests that being able to read and write allows citizens to acquire more responsibility and perform more complex tasks. He emphasizes, “a literate and informed society is the basis for sustainable development.”

Mdoe underlines the need for considerable coordination to make the plan work. Experts will need to organize teacher recruitment. They will also need to direct research on best practices in adult literacy education. Finally, Tanzania must push continuing education for its adult population.

Looking Ahead

The government’s plan to improve Tanzania’s literacy rate will provide greater educational opportunities for all adults and children. In turn, this will help the country continue to grow economically. With this ambitious plan, Tanzania has a good chance of reaching its goal of 100% literacy by 2030.

– Kyle Har
Photo: Flickr

The Chimala Mission
Within the Mbeya Region of Tanzania lies the Chimala Mission. Founded in the early 1950s, the mission seeks to improve life for the people around the region. Despite numerous challenges, the mission remains a vibrant act of hope for the communities around it. The Borgen Project spoke with members of the Chimala Mission: Howell Ferguson, Zavier Hofstetter, Mattie Adams and Hailey Watson.

Starting a Mission

Tanzania achieved independence from Great Britain in 1961. Consequently, the country experienced several jarring transitions as it moved from colony to self-governing state. In 1964, the country, then called Tanganyika, merged with the Republic of Zanzibar. Today, it is the state of Tanzania

Amidst this transition, the country granted access to missionaries affiliated with the churches of Christ. The same year that Tanganyika merged with Zanzibar, missionaries began construction of a 50-bed hospital in the Chimala region.

Growing a Mission

During its first years of independence, Tanzania faced extreme poverty. It was “one of the poorest and most aid-dependent countries in the world.” While Tanzania’s poverty rate declined in recent years, it still hovers above 20%. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated poverty. Between 1965 and 2021, the Chimala Mission experienced spectacular successes, resulting in it meaningfully improving the lives of countless Tanzanians.

For the community, the hospital—long the focal point of the mission’s benevolent works—is a godsend. Since its completion, a rotation of American doctors works with Tanzanian physicians to keep the hospital staffed and growing. According to the Mission’s website, it now contains a “maternity ward, post-natal clinic, eye and dental clinic, isolation ward, family shelter, [and] morgue.” The hospital assists close to 60,000 people each year.

In the past two decades, the Mission expanded. For example, it started both a primary and a secondary school in 1999 and 2010, respectively. In 2019, the schools enrolled 700 children combined.

Also in 2019, the mission started its Manna Project. The Chimala Mission leases this 450-acre farm from the government of Tanzania. The Manna Project aims to make the mission more self-supporting, employing people from the community and improving farming methods at the same time. Despite some early setbacks, the mission’s Stateside Coordinator, Howell Ferguson told The Borgen Project, “We are continuing the farm program as best as we can using what we have.”

Discovering a Mission

In May 2021, a group of students from Freed-Hardeman University traveled to Chimala for 11 days. The students assisted the Mission, receiving education from its U.S. missionaries and learning about Tanzania’s culture. Some of their experiences with Tanzania’s culture were unexpected.

For example, FHU student Zavier Hofstetter told The Borgen Project that “We [Americans] like to have everything down to the minute: an hour for this task, another hour for a different one. In Tanzania, each task takes exactly however long it takes.”

Despite this, the group was able to help out in several ways during their stay. They spent their first few days acclimating to the mission’s campus and then dived straight into helping where they could. In addition to daily devotionals, the group helped at the elementary school, where they taught English pronunciation to fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth-grade classes.

As an education major, Hofstetter found his time at the mission beneficial explaining that “it was amazing to see how a school system in Africa worked. The students were all extremely disciplined and eager to learn.”

In the Hospital

Several of the students also found ways to serve in Chimala’s hospital. In an interview with The Borgen Project, Mattie Adams, a nursing major said, “I learned so much from working in the Chimala Mission Hospital! It was such a blessing to see what great things the nurses and doctors were doing with more rudimentary tools than what we have in the states.” He continued, stating that he “got to experience what it was like to be a nurse in a different country than my own by doing hands-on work such as taking vitals, assessing patients, and watching live births.”

Public relations student Hailey Watson related a dramatic anecdote of her time helping at the hospital. A patient with multiple stab wounds needed treatment and was losing blood fast. Since the hospital did not have enough of the patient’s blood type, she, Hofstetter and fellow student Kayley Wadlington were all able to donate, and the patient stabilized and survived.

Looking Forward

There is no doubt that the Chimala Mission improves life for the communities around it. Though the mission is still growing, in the words of one Tanzanian proverb, “those who go slow never stumble.”

– Jonathan Helton
Photo: Flickr

Tourism in TanzaniaTourism involves traveling to locations other than one’s usual environment to participate in activities of interest. Tanzania contains many tourist destinations, including Mount Kilimanjaro, Serengeti National Park and Zanzibar beaches. As such, tourism in Tanzania remains essential to the economy of the nation and has a significant impact in more ways than one.

Tanzania’s Poverty Statistics

With a population of approximately 55.6 million people, Tanzania has one of the world’s most impoverished economies despite its previously high rates of growth and remarkable tourism industry. Tanzania’s GDP growth rate decreased from 5.8% in 2019 to 2% in 2020, meaning that Tanzania’s growth per capita became unprecedentedly negative. Furthermore, the Tanzanian poverty rate was 25.7% in 2020, which means that almost 15 million Tanzanians could not afford some or all of their basic necessities.

The Impacts of COVID-19 in Tanzania

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 140,000 people in Tanzania lost their formal jobs in June 2020. Additionally, more than two million people with informal, non-farming jobs experienced a decrease in income. Because of these pandemic job losses, more than half a million people could be pushed below Tanzania’s poverty line.

Furthermore, Tanzania’s rapid population explosion during the pandemic has resulted in an increase in the number of citizens living under the poverty line. Tanzania’s poverty rate increased to nearly 2% in the past year, meaning hundreds of thousands of people have been pushed below the poverty line since the pandemic began. According to the World Bank, “[b]ecause a large share of Tanzania’s population is close to the poverty line, even a mild economic shock can push numerous households into poverty.”

Moreover, the pandemic has halted many businesses, especially in the tourism and manufacturing sectors. However, with the new development of the COVID-19 vaccine, many people are starting to travel again, which may indicate that an economic turn-around could be in Tanzania’s near future.

Tourism in Tanzania

According to University of Dar Es Salaam students Nathanael Luvanga and Joseph Shitundu, Tanzania’s tourism industry contributes to the alleviation of poverty. In their study, they examined three popular tourist attractions in Tanzania and how the qualities of those three locations helped alleviate poverty.

The students found that tourism in Tanzania creates employment for those who live in poverty, including jobs operating hotels, providing tours, working at stores and handcrafting goods to sell to tourists. Job creation in the tourism industry is decreasing poverty rates because the skills needed to obtain employment are not specialized. This means that with proper training, anyone can excel as a tourism industry employee.

The Benefits of Tourism

As a result of positive tourism in Tanzania, the country has observed an increase in the number of people acquiring income from tourism-related jobs. With tourism and travel rates beginning to increase again, many are hopeful that more job opportunities in the tourism industry will arise.

Moreover, tourism strongly correlates with national and even international capital, which opens many opportunities to benefit impoverished citizens and further reduce poverty rates. Tourism was Tanzania’s “largest foreign exchange earner,” the second-largest GDP contributor and the third-largest employment creator, per a World Bank report. With access to numerous foreign markets, Tanzania is able to create employment opportunities for the impoverished, preserve cultural traditions through tourism, expand efforts to further develop the country and decrease poverty rates.

Tourism Alleviates Poverty

More than two million people have visited Tanzania each year to view its exquisite scenery and learn about Tanzanian culture, but tourists are unaware of just how important their visits are to alleviating poverty. Tourism creates jobs for those living in poverty, allowing many impoverished Tanzanian people to provide for their families, and therefore, lift themselves above the poverty line. Additionally, tourism allows Tanzania to use foreign capital to boost its economy, contributing to a rise in its GDP. National and international funding gained from tourism allow an expansion in efforts to eliminate poverty in Tanzania and generates more unique opportunities to benefit the impoverished.

Lauren Spiers
Photo: Flickr

improving women's rightsTanzania has struggled to effectively develop in the realm of women’s rights. Women and girls struggle with sexual harassment in schools, discrimination, violence and an everyday battle to have the same opportunities as men do. In Tanzania, 60% of women live in extreme poverty. This disparity arises partially because of “shrinking productivity in the agriculture sector,” where many women work. When women are not allowed access to work opportunities, higher poverty rates arise. This takes Tanzania further from its goal of ending domestic poverty and improving women’s rights.

The State of Affairs for Tanzanian Women

Almost two-thirds of Tanzanian farmers are women, but women lack the same opportunities to thrive as men. Women have less access to credit, fewer chances for skills development and less time to devote to their work. Women’s farms are often smaller than men’s, which directly correlates to agriculture output. Moreover, “gender norms” and a lack of legislative development limit women.

Another unavoidable issue Tanzania faces in the battle for gender equality is violence. Per the Tanzanian National Bureau of Statistics, 40% of women have faced physical violence, and a fifth of women report experience with sexual violence. Furthermore, “35% of women have faced physical or sexual intimate partner violence” and 40% of 15 to 49-year-old women have experienced physical violence since 15.

What is USAID?

USAID is the United States Agency for International Development, and it focuses on foreign aid and development assistance.  USAID focuses on building communities through economic growth, agricultural advancements, women empowerment, gender equality and much more.

It further believes that a country’s ability to reach its full potential significantly comes from equitable access to education, free speech and opportunity. Women, men, girls and boys all need to have equal resources and control over the community and land to prosper as a whole. Almost 200 “gender advisors and points of contact” work toward the common goal of providing every human equal chances through gender equality. USAID continues the work of improving women’s rights and has a great impact on gender equality development in many countries, including Tanzania.

USAID’s Impact

USAID has had a great impact on improving women’s rights in Tanzania. In 2017, it launched the “Let Them Learn” campaign, which allows for girls out of school to pursue their passions. The campaign also empowers girls to speak up about gender equality and the restraints that stop girls from excelling in school. USAID has been working to empower the female community in Tanzania in order to help women and girls obtain rights and deserved opportunities.

For example, USAID has been working with Women in Law and Development in Africa to connect survivors with services. This effort has helped more than 18,000 victims of sexual and physical violence. In order to improve the work conditions for women in Tanzania, USAID has also helped launch numerous programs that allow women to explore what fields their futures are in.

Whether in agriculture, the building of entrepreneurship skills or learning more about business development services, USAID has made it a mission for women’s voices to be heard and for women to have the chance at a prosperous future.

Haleigh Kierman
Photo: Unsplash

covid-19 and poverty in tanzaniaThe East African country of Tanzania is one of the largest nations on the continent. Despite a population of more than 58 million, Tanzania has reported fewer than 600 COVID-19 cases and just 21 deaths as of July 22, 2021. However, widespread denial of the gravity of the virus is making COVID-19 in Tanzania more dangerous. While Tanzania has experienced minimal physical health impacts of COVID-19 in contrast to other countries, the impact of COVID-19 on poverty in Tanzania has been harsh as the virus has slowed overall economic growth.

Tanzania’s COVID-19 Response

On March 16, 2020, Tanzania reported its first case of COVID-19. Months later, in April, the country’s bustling region of Tanga also reported its first case. To help prevent the further spread of the virus, the government in Tanga began working with the CDC to train health professionals “on case investigation, contact tracing, home and community isolation, quarantine, infection prevention control (IPC) and case management,” providing a strategy to respond to new cases.

Furthermore, the CDC aided Tanzania in hiring and training drug dispensaries to monitor the number of people looking for COVID-19 treatment. This allowed pharmacists to watch out for probable cases in their communities in order to ramp up precautions and prevent the spread of the disease. In total, the CDC helped train 116 healthcare personnel in COVID-19 response strategies, “creating a holistic, community response to detect and respond to the COVID-19 crisis.”

Unreported Cases and COVID-19 Denial

On the surface, Tanzania has done an exceptional job preventing the spread of COVID-19. However, a few less discussed issues have prevented the country from fully recovering. For instance, in June 2020, the country’s then-president, John Magufuli, stopped reporting COVID-19 data, claiming that the country was virus-free even though Tanzania had already reported 509 cases and 21 deaths. Magufuli asserted that a “three-day prayer had saved the country.” Similarly, the secretary of the Ministry of Health, Mabula Mchembe, disregarded accusations that the country’s denial of the virus was only causing more deaths. Overall, the Tanzanian government has “downplayed the seriousness of the pandemic.”

A New President Brings Hope

When the former president passed away on March 17, 2021, President Samia Suluhu Hassan replaced him as the first female president of the country. The mark of Hassan’s presidency also marked the release of Tanzania’s official COVID-19 statistics after “more than a year.” Hassan confirmed 100 new COVID-19 cases since the third wave of COVID-19 began in Tanzania. Bringing hope to Tanzania, President Hassan also allotted $470 million for the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines, helping the country’s citizens protect themselves from the virus.

The Impact of COVID-19 on Poverty in Tanzania

Tanzania has made significant progress in tackling COVID-19, but the pandemic has still worsened poverty in the country. Due to the extensive measures put in place to track the virus, including quarantine and lockdowns, roughly 140,000 formal jobs were lost in June 2020 alone. In addition, 2.2 million “nonfarm informal workers” experienced loss of income. Similarly, the poverty rate increased from 26.1% in 2019 to 27.2% by the end of 2020.

In 2021, however, Tanzania’s economic outlook is much different. In fact, Tanzania’s GDP is projected to rise by up to 5.3% this year due to President Hassan’s COVID-19 programs and vaccine distribution plan. President Hassan has promised to improve infrastructure and resource management, reflecting a vision of future economic growth in the country. As Tanzania moves in a more transparent and positive direction, hope is on the horizon for overall poverty reduction and economic growth.

Calvin Franke
Photo: Flickr