The United Republic of Tanzania is an East African country in the African Great Lakes region with a population of around 56.32 million people. Tanzania is a developing country and it struggles with widespread hunger and poverty. In 2019, the Global Hunger Index ranked Tanzania 95th out of 117 countries, with a level of hunger classified as serious. Here are five important facts about hunger in the United Republic of Tanzania.
5 Facts About Hunger in the United Republic of Tanzania
- Malnutrition: Malnutrition due to hunger is a serious and widespread health issue for those living with food insecurity. Studies show that around 3.3 million children in Tanzania suffer from chronic malnutrition and 58% of children are anemic. In addition to the lack of access to food, malnutrition is a result of poor water quality and sanitation services. A shortage of medical supplies and properly trained healthcare workers have also worsened this crisis, affecting children’s’ health and growth over the long-term. In order to help defeat the damage of malnutrition on vulnerable children, doctors and humanitarian aid groups, such as the World Food Program, have begun providing malnourished children with fortified food products to help them gain the nutrients they require to thrive. Additionally, pregnant women, new mothers and young children are receiving regular checkups to ensure that they remain healthy and that they can receive treatment for malnutrition in its earliest stages.
- Infant Mortality Rates: Lack of access to food and proper nutrition has an especially harmful impact on infant mortality rates and the health of pregnant mothers. It is vital for children to receive adequate nutrition within the first 1,000 days of life in order for them to grow up strong and healthy. The widespread prevalence of malnutrition in Tanzania creates a health crisis that affects young children and causes a third of all deaths of children under 5, in addition to the many health problems that can damage children who survive. Studies have shown that babies who suffer from malnutrition, even briefly, are often at a higher risk for mental and physical illnesses even into adulthood, as well as learning difficulties, stunted growth and weaker immune systems in childhood. Pregnant women are also susceptible to malnutrition in part because of cultural myths about motherhood, such as the widespread belief in Tanzania that eating less during pregnancy will cause a baby to be smaller and easier to deliver. This can cause dangerous health issues for mothers as well as making their newborns more prone to malnutrition. Women of childbearing age and children under 5-years-old are the most prone to health problems due to malnutrition such as iron and vitamin A deficiencies. In Tanzania, 58% of children and 45% of women are anemic, and 33% of children and 37% of women have vitamin A deficiencies.
- Rural Hunger: Hunger in Tanzania disproportionately affects rural families living in poverty. Over half of the country lives in rural areas and works in the agricultural sector, a population that contains almost three-quarters of Tanzanians suffering from undernourishment and 80% of the country’s hungry citizens. Hunger in these rural areas increases during Tanzania’s dry season, which lasts from June to October. Harvesting crops becomes especially difficult during these months and maintaining an adequate amount of food is an even greater challenge.
- Agriculture: Although many people living in Tanzania work in agriculture, the country’s agricultural output still lags behind much of Sub-Saharan Africa. There are a number of reasons for this poor performance, such as less agricultural research, the continued use of rudimentary and outdated farming technology, lack of access to seeds and fertilizers and the inaccessibility of financial assistance such as agricultural loans. The struggling agricultural sector leads to higher rates of poverty and hunger among those who work in this field and rely on farming as their main food source.
- Organizations: Several organizations are combatting hunger in Tanzania. Efforts to fight malnutrition from the World Food Program and other organizations have decreased the mortality rate of children under 5-years-old by two-thirds and the infant mortality rate by 6% since 1990. The humanitarian organization Action Against Hunger recently trained 229 health workers in Tanzania on how to provide proper treatment and management of acute malnutrition. It also provided technical support to 41 healthcare facilities and screened over 10,000 children for malnutrition.
These statistics paint a sobering, yet not an entirely hopeless picture of the hunger in the United Republic of Tanzania. Many are working to help combat this issue, though more progress is still necessary to ensure that no one in Tanzania goes hungry.
– Allie Beutel