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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

Healthcare in sub-Saharan Africa has a direct impact on poverty in the region. When adults are too ill to work, they and their children can quickly fall into extreme poverty, which leads to hunger and malnutrition. Around 46% of Africa’s population lives on less than $1 a day; an even larger proportion than was the case 15 years ago. Despite these challenges, organizations like Wild4Life are working to expand the reach of healthcare into these underserved communities.

Poverty and Health Care in sub-Saharan Africa

Sub-Saharan Africa is the poorest region in the continent. Close to 60 million children under the age of 17 work instead of attending school in an effort to help their families rise out of poverty. Every fifth child is forced into child labor. This effectively means that when grown, that person will lack education and most likely remain in poverty. This social plight creates a vicious cycle in which chronic malnutrition, growth disorders and physical and mental underdevelopment occur. These health issues further limit an individual’s opportunity to earn a living later in life. In addition, 25 million Africans are infected with HIV, including almost 3 million children — the highest rate of infection in the world. Many of these children have lost one or both parents and are living on the streets.

Government expenditure on healthcare in Africa is very low; typically about $6 per person. This means that medical workers experience huge pressures, operating with little-to-no equipment or means to reach rural populations, Such challenges make healthcare in sub-Saharan Africa difficult to provide.

Good News about Health Care in Rural Communities

The good news is that organizations such as Wild4Life are working to reverse these disturbing healthcare trends. The NGO’s mission is to expand the reach of health services to underserved remote, rural communities in sub-Saharan Africa that have limited or no access to healthcare. To achieve this goal, Wild4Life has developed an incredibly innovative service delivery model. The aim of this model is to reach more people than previously would have been possible. Wild4Life works to establish the basic building blocks of a healthcare system. It believes that a well-functioning system has a lasting effect on a community’s overall health and longevity.

Expansion to Twelve African Countries

The Wild4Life model involves partnering with organizations that are already established in remote locations, and that have put together links with people in the local community. This approach leverages the existing infrastructure, social ties and knowledge bank in cooperation with Wild4Life’s network of health providers. This allows support and treatment to impact some of the hardest-to-reach people and places on earth.

Wild4Life began as an HIV/AIDS program in Zimbabwe, but it has expanded throughout sub-Saharan Africa.  Now operating in twelve countries — Botswana, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe —the organization delivers extremely low-cost healthcare in sub-Saharan Africa and provides interventions that are scalable yet sustainable.

Community Partnerships to Improve Health Care

The goals of the NGO include assessing the needs of rural populations and targeting the health issues that most affect them. It also seeks to build clinics in remote areas; strengthen rural healthcare networks; provide quality healthcare and improve community partnerships so that creative ways to address problems become permanent solutions. For example, Wild4Life trains community leaders to mobilize local demands for healthcare services and advocate for quality care from clinic staff and maintain facilities. This results in significant infrastructure improvements. The NGO also organizes events around such topics as improving healthy behaviors and coming up with strategies for the best way to use clinic funds.

Five Clinics in Zimbabwe

In Zimbabwe alone, Wild4Life has a network of five clinics. These clinics have achieved remarkable results, including hundreds of lives saved by new diagnosis and treatment of HIV as well as other preventable diseases. The organization believes that there is not one single technology or innovation that will create a lasting impact on the health of people living in rural communities. Instead, it partners with all levels of the healthcare system to locate the gaps in the extant setup. By doing this, it hopes to leave behind a resilient, local healthcare system for those who need it most.

During comprehensive clinical mentoring, well-trained, multi-disciplinary teams composed of six specialists comprehensively mentor clinic staffs on primary care conditions. These conditions include HIV, TB, Integrated Management of Childhood Illness and testing for anemia. Such services also aid in labor and delivery. This process also covers monitoring and evaluation of data quality, pharmacy management and clinic management over a two-year period.

Scaling Up to Improve Healthcare in Africa

Wild4Life has significantly scaled up since its inception, through government, nonprofit and for-profit connections. It has gone from delivering care to remote areas, to building healthcare networks in rural populations. As a result of its expansion plan, 70,000 more people will have access to high-quality health services in their communities. By training clinicians and community members in the most up-to-date medical care delivery, the NGO is changing the way that rural healthcare in sub-Saharan Africa is delivered.

Sarah Betuel

Photo: Flickr

Sweden's Foreign AidMany countries allocate a portion of their gross national income (GNI) to foreign aid. However, few countries rival Sweden’s foreign aid. Sweden has a reputation as a generous country in the international community; it gives generous donations to struggling countries for a variety of reasons. The three nations that Sweden provides the most aid to are Tanzania, Afghanistan and Mozambique. Additionally, Sweden distributes its aid to many areas within these three countries. This article highlights Sweden’s efforts to help these impoverished countries.

Tanzania

Tanzania and Sweden have been partners for over half a century. The relationship between the two nations started back in 1963. Since then, Sweden has achieved multiple substantial successes in Tanzania. For example, Sweden has helped deliver electricity to about 20% of the newly powered areas since 2006. Sweden also provided financial assistance to one million small businesses. In this case, over 50% of those beneficiaries were women or young people. Additionally, in 2013, Sweden provided Tanzania with $123 million in official development assistance (ODA). It also provided $103 million in 2015.

According to the website Sweden Abroad, Sweden’s foreign aid in Tanzania is intended to help the country achieve sustainable growth and to give impoverished people opportunities to care for themselves, either by providing them with employment or by starting small businesses. Looking to the future, Sweden will decrease their aid as poverty decreases in Tanzania.

Afghanistan

Afghanistan has also received a tremendous amount of support from Sweden’s foreign aid. One of the core focuses of Swedish aid in Afghanistan is in promoting gender equality for women. Unfortunately, literacy among women in Afghanistan is around 18%. Sweden has worked hard to reduce that statistic. Thankfully, Sweden has increased the number of women attending school. In 2001, one million women attended school in Afghanistan. By 2016, there were 8.2 million children in school, 40% of whom were girls. Sweden has increased the number of girls in school, in part, through the implementation of schools run by the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan. Currently, these schools teach about 70,000 Afghan children. Of that number, 62% are girls.

Sweden has also made strides in protecting women from violence. The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, U.N. Women and Women for Afghanistan Women have teamed up to ensure the protection of Afghan women. These agencies have established refuges within 20 provinces of Afghanistan. These refuges offer services including legal assistance and guidance following gender-based violence.

Mozambique

Similar to Tanzania, Mozambique has received Sweden’s foreign aid for many years; Swedish aid to Tanzania started during the 1970s. Sweden has aided Mozambique in many ways, including by preventing child marriages, promoting gender equality and renovating hydroelectric plants. The Pungwe Programme is one specific example of Sweden’s aid in Mozambique. This program takes care of the Pungwe River. Over one million people use the Pungwe River, including Mozambicans in addition to some Zimbabweans.

Hopefully, other countries will follow Sweden’s example and increase their investments in the global community. Sweden’s work in Tanzania, Afghanistan and Mozambique is commendable; however, it will take more aid to bring developing countries into the modern era.

– Jacob E. Lee
Photo: Flickr

Tanzania is Improving its EducationTanzania has faced difficulty in promoting its own economic development in the past. While Tanzania has made progress, its progress has slowed over the past decade. As a result, Tanzania is improving its education to reduce poverty in the country.

Challenges and Progress in Tanzania

Tanzania is a country that has experienced severe poverty levels throughout its history. Yet over the past decade, the country has also made significant strides in reducing its poverty rate. While in 2007 Tanzania had a poverty rate of 34.4%, with more than a third of the population living under the poverty line, that number had fallen to 28.2% by 2012 and again to 26.4% by 2018.

This data shows a clear improvement in Tanzania’s poverty levels but it also reveals a slowing of the progress being made in fighting poverty in the country, with a roughly 6% reduction of the poverty rate between 2007 and 2012 and a roughly 2% reduction of the poverty rate from 2012 to 2018. Nearly 50% of Tanzania’s population still fall below the extreme poverty income line, meaning they are living on less than $1.90 a day.

While Tanzania’s economic progress had already been slowing in the last few years, the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic is on track to hinder the country’s economic development even further. Both the formal and informal economies of Tanzania have been impacted by the effects of the pandemic, with Tanzania’s tourism industry being especially crippled.

The Tanzanian government estimates that only about 437,000 people will visit Tanzania from outside the country this year, which is a significant reduction from the 1,867,000 tourists estimated in 2019. It is predicted that Tanzania will lose around 146,000 jobs due to this drop in tourism.

Education Challenges in Tanzania

Yet, Tanzania is improving its education to reduce poverty among its poorer populations. In an effort to reduce poverty, the Tanzanian government has made investments in education over the past decade. Since 2007, Tanzania’s government has worked to provide free education for all its people and from 2011 to 2016, it increased its education spending budget by more than half. This led to a sharp increase in the rate of primary education enrollment but by 2012 this rate had fallen by nearly 20%.

While the efforts of Tanzania’s government to make education free have been broadly effective, many impoverished communities in Tanzania still struggle to access formal education. The cost of the tuition itself is only part of the total cost of education and many impoverished people in Tanzania are unable to afford the costs of traveling to and from school. In some rural parts of Tanzania, students have to travel nearly 15 miles every day just to receive an education.

As a result, many people in Tanzania choose to forgo formal education, with more than half of Tanzania’s rural population being illiterate.

Possible Solutions to Improve Education

Investing more in transportation systems for students may help to alleviate some of the financial burdens that impoverished communities face. Investing in teachers may also help Tanzania overcome its low education rate, as many public schools in Tanzania have many more students than available teachers. According to UNICEF, for every trained teacher at the pre-primary level of public education in Tanzania, there are roughly 131 students, meaning that many public schools in Tanzania end up being understaffed. By investing more funding into training teachers, the Tanzanian government could further improve its public education systems, which would improve career opportunities among its poorest communities.

Taking Action

Tanzania’s government has recognized the need to improve education among its populace. Currently, UNICEF is working with Tanzania’s President’s Office Regional Administration and Local Government to bring increased education opportunities to more communities throughout the country. By working with the government, UNICEF hopes to develop policies that will allow for more effective and accessible systems of education to be established within the next year.

Tanzania’s economic development has faced significant roadblocks in the past, with the COVID-19 pandemic being especially detrimental. However, it is clear that Tanzania is improving its education to reduce poverty among its population. To reduce poverty rates and improve career opportunities, the Tanzanian government is investing in better education for its citizens. With the help of organizations such as UNICEF, Tanzania may see a lower poverty rate than ever before.

– Marshall Kirk
Photo: Flickr

Fighting Period Poverty in TanzaniaPeriod poverty, or the inability to access sanitary products for menstruation, remains a problem in many impoverished areas of the world, with millions of women and girls denied access to products and forced to stop attended school during their menstrual cycles. This problem persists in Tanzania, where only 8% of girls finish secondary school and the average menstruating student misses three to four classes during each cycle. Menstruation is a taboo subject in many developing countries, teaching young girls that their cycles are unhealthy, dirty or something to hide and be ashamed of. However, several organizations are fighting period poverty in Tanzania to ensure that all girls receive the sanitary products and education they need to continue school and defeat the stigma around menstruation. UNFPA Tanzania, WomensChoice Industries and Made With Hope are just a handful of the groups working to make sure that period poverty in Tanzania becomes a thing of the past.

UNFPA Tanzania is Educating Both Girls and Boys on Menstruation

The United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA) branch in Tanzania has noted the lack of education surrounding menstruation for both men and women. In various places throughout the nation, the organization has noted girls being taught that menstruation is shameful and should be hidden (even from other women) or that they are taught nothing about it at all. That is why UNFPA Tanzania has enacted various programs in the country’s Kigoma region to normalize education around menstruation for both sexes. These initiatives include Ujana Wangu Nguvu Yangu (My Youth, My Power), a four-year series of classes that teach Tanzanian adolescents about sexual and reproductive health, including menstruation.

In addition to initiating these programs, UNFPA has taken further steps to ensure that period poverty in Tanzania does not worsen due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It has kept its Adolescent and Youth Centers open with proper social distancing protocols in place so that women and girls in Tanzania still have access to the sanitary products and support they need during their menstrual cycles.

WomensChoice Industries

Lucy Odiwa, a Kenyan woman, grew up surrounded by harmful stigma about menstruation. This experience inspired her to establish WomensChoice Industries, which creates reusable sanitary products in order to decrease period poverty in Tanzania and ensure that girls in the region do not grow up in the same way she did.

Many women in rural Tanzania cannot afford sanitary products so Odiwa began selling her Salama pads, which can be reused for up to three years, for Sh5,000 ($2). In addition to the pads, WomensChoice Industries also manufactures tampons, breast pads and diapers for children and adults, all at a low cost so that they are more accessible to Tanzania’s low-income communities.

And the work does not stop there. Like UNFPA, WomensChoice Industries provides reproductive education to Tanzanian boys and girls. Representatives from the organization travel across the region to reduce the stigma around menstruation and ensure that adolescent girls are aware of their own sexual and reproductive health. The group has reached over 1.8 million women with its menstrual health programs as well as 1.2 million with its affordable and reusable sanitary products.

Made With Hope

Made With Hope is an organization based in the United Kingdom that focuses on increasing access to education for children in Tanzania, whether that be building schools or working to improve those already implemented by the government. As girls frequently miss class due to their menstrual cycles, the organization has made it a priority to combat period poverty. In addition to increasing education surrounding menstruation, Made With Hope has created a clean space in the schools it has built for girls to change their sanitary products safely. It has also helped to create local income-generating programs that manufacture these products. The organization has also worked to spread awareness of period poverty in Tanzania around the United Kingdom, inspiring others to get involved with the issue, even from abroad.

While period poverty in Tanzania remains an issue, UNFPA Tanzania, WomensChoice Industries and Made With Hope are all fighting period poverty in Tanzania to ensure that all Tanzanian women and girls receive the sanitary products and menstrual health education they need.

– Daryn Lenahan
Photo: Flickr

Poverty and poachingBig mammals all around the world are at risk because of poaching. The countries most impacted are the poorest ones despite the presence of natural parks and nature reserves. A recent scientific review examined the decline of mammal species and found that between 1980 to 2020, 294 species were illegally hunted in the parks designed to protect them. There is a clear link between poverty and poaching; the environment, animals and people can all be helped by alleviating poverty.

What Animals are Poached?

Endangered animals that are commonly poached are elephants, rhinos, tigers, sea turtles, lemurs and gorillas. Despite efforts to save these animals, high rates of poaching still threaten them. Currently, poachers are the single greatest threat to elephant’s survival. Their ivory makes elephants a highly-prized target. Similarly, rhinos are hunted for their horns. As a result, the western black rhinoceros went extinct in 2011.

Why is it a Threat in Poorer Countries?

Poverty and poaching have many reasons for commonly coinciding. However, it should be stated that poverty does not lead to poaching. It is one of the drivers, but to say that poverty causes poaching is not exactly correct. The International Conservation Caucus Foundation states that “the extreme poverty of many African communities induces their complicity in African-based, Asian-run poaching networks.” Due to a lack of conservation resources, a boom in bushmeat trade and the desire to increase socioeconomic status, poaching rates remain high. Another major driver is corruption. Research from the University of New York identified that corruption and poverty actually influence poaching more than the adequacy of law enforcement.

Who Poaches?

An important clarification is that it is not necessarily the poorest people who poach. A major influence on poachers is their financial status relative to others in their community rather than total amount of wealth. Many poachers are not among the absolute poorest, but they collect bushmeat to supplement their income. They need the funds they receive from bushmeat, ivory and rhino-horn trade for basic needs. In a 2015 study in Tanzania, 96% of villagers said they would stop poaching if they received enough income through other means. Evidently, poverty and poaching are inseparable.

Can Poaching Be Stopped?

Anti-poaching programs need to take a multidimensional approach to tackling both poverty and poaching. Increasing law enforcement isn’t enough. Top-down measures, such as increasing patrols and arrests, may help reduce the number of people who poach to gain a little extra income, but it will not dissuade those who depend on it for their livelihood.

The key is to implement bottom-up strategies that increase opportunities and agency for these communities. Poaching is seen as a method to raise people out of poverty. However, what researchers and conservationists need to understand is that poverty is relative rather than absolute. By understanding this fact, they can start to ask questions such as: how much do households need to be elevated out of poverty to help prevent them from poaching?

CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, is making a difference. It is an international agreement that aims to protect wild animals from going extinct through international trade. The ideas for CITES were first formed in the 1960s, but now they have evolved greatly. CITES places species in one of three appendices, each representing a different level of endangerment. The first appendix provides the greatest level of protection with restrictions on commercial trade. CITES prevents poaching using an international approach that advocates for socioeconomic and environmental change.

This is a messy issue that has very little clear data and even fewer clear-cut answers. The extent to which poverty and poaching are correlated is still debated and researched; however, it is certain that poverty has an effect. The issue of poverty must be addressed in order to resolve the issue of poaching.

Fiona Price
Photo: Flickr

Period Poverty in TanzaniaMenstruation is a natural and essential part of human life. For women facing period poverty in Tanzania, lack of access to menstrual management products and sanitation facilities can result in lost opportunities for work or education.

Periods and Poverty

Over 50% of the Tanzanian population does not have access to improved sanitation and clean drinking water is often limited. Without access to menstrual hygiene products, information and adequate sanitation services, women and girls are at risk for poor physical or reproductive health. Lack of proper sanitation contributes to lower girls’ attendance in school and limits opportunities and potential for women in Tanzania.

Fighting Period Stigma

Ending the taboo around menstruation is an important step toward ending period poverty. There is a lot of misinformation about periods and Tanzanian women are made to feel ashamed about themselves and their bodies. Due to period stigma, girls are often ridiculed when their periods catch them off guard.

Education on menstrual and reproductive health is one of the most empowering tools to combat period poverty in Tanzania. Many organizations have made it their mission to end gender-based discrimination and destigmatize female hygiene. For example, the Maji Safi Group aims to teach young girls to embrace their bodies and help them reach their fullest potential as academics and as mothers. The organization’s comprehensive approach includes community outreach, after school programs, employing Tanzanian women as community health educators and providing learning materials.

Affordable Products

Managing menstruation is expensive and disposable sanitary products are a luxury that vulnerable women in Tanzania cannot afford. In recent years, world leaders have committed to creating change in the country by investing in the menstrual hygiene product industry. For instance, the World Bank partnered with an entrepreneurial enterprise called WomenChoice, which manufactures and distributes affordable menstrual hygiene products. WomenChoice further empowers women from low-resource backgrounds by offering vendor, sales agent and volunteer positions. The micro-enterprise serves as a model for other organizations seeking to keep girls in school and end period poverty in Tanzania.

Impact of COVID-19

The closing of schools in Tanzania due to the COVID-19 pandemic may compound the challenges of period poverty throughout the country. Worldwide disruptions limit access to essential sanitary products in the country as well as information about sexual and reproductive health. However, UNFPA, the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency, has made the fight against period poverty an essential part of their pandemic response efforts by maintaining open access to its centers, information and services in the country during COVID-19.

Continuing the Fight Against Period Poverty

The government of Tanzania has partnered with UNICEF and pledged to dramatically increase access to sanitation over the next five years. This step will not only help keep girls in school but also help them reach their fullest potential and escape period poverty. While there is still much more work to be done, ongoing efforts by the government, international partners, communities and organizations help make a brighter future possible for Tanzanian girls and women.

Rachel Moloney
Photo: Flickr

Flaviana Matata FoundationInternational fashion model Flaviana Matata survived malaria and studied electrical engineering in college. In 2007, Matata was the first-ever Tanzanian woman to compete in the Miss Universe pageant. In 2016, after learning that house paint is often passed off and sold as nail polish in Tanzania, she founded Lavy Products, a nontoxic nail polish company whose products appear online and in stores and salons across Tanzania. As she breaks records and embarks upon entrepreneurial endeavors, Matata has made philanthropy a priority, founding the Flaviana Matata Foundation in 2011.

Matata’s foundation is a nongovernmental organization that supports women’s education in Tanzania. The foundation also helps women establish their own businesses and find employment opportunities.

Education in Tanzania

In Tanzania, less than 56% of children move onto secondary school after completing their primary school education. While the Tanzanian government abolished school fees for primary and secondary school education in 2015, costs such as transportation, lunch and exams still make it three times less likely that students from poor families will attend primary school when compared with children from wealthy families. As of 2016, the poverty rate in Tanzania is estimated to be 26.8%, meaning that more than 13 million Tanzanians live in poverty.

“A lot of kids do very well in school but have to quit or stop because they can’t afford school fees, uniforms or even books—the little things we take for granted,” Matata said in an interview for the Diamond Empowerment Fund, which has helped sponsor many of the Flaviana Matata Foundation’s initiatives.

The Foundation’s Approach to the Gender Gap

Girls are less likely than boys to receive a secondary-level education in Tanzania. The literacy rate for adult women in Tanzania was approximately 67% in 2009. Laws banning child marriage and fee-free education at the secondary level have been important steps toward increasing access to education in Tanzania, but more progress still needs to be made.

The Flaviana Matata Foundation aims to achieve this progress and make education in Tanzania more accessible for women. To date, the Flaviana Matata Foundation has helped over 5,000 students in Tanzania, providing school supplies, improving school infrastructure, adding desks and giving toiletry boxes for girls to use while on their menstrual cycles.

Ongoing Activism

The foundation has prioritized various projects since 2011. The Clean and Safe Water Project, completed in 2018, provides 319 students and teachers with a supply of clean water. The Stationery Back to School Project, completed in early 2020, equipped 304 students with stationery kits to last the academic year. The foundation’s ongoing project, Education Sponsorship for Young Girls, currently sponsors 25 girls from secondary school to college or university age with full scholarships and vocational and educational training.

Matata, whose Instagram following is 1.5 million as of July 2020, regularly shares information about Lavy Products and the Flaviana Matata Foundation online. Her work proves that social media can be used to make a positive impact and combat education inequality. As 24 million girls in sub-Saharan Africa remain unable to afford an education, the Flaviana Matata Foundation’s initiatives continue to play a crucial role in bridging education gaps.

Zoe Engels
Photo: Pixabay

ECHOTucked away in North Fort Myers, Fla., just minutes away from a bustling downtown and warm sunny beaches, sits the Educational Concerns for Haiti Organization global farm. ECHO, as it is more commonly known, was founded in the early 1970s primarily to provide solutions directly for Haiti, particularly those that would improve the nation’s agricultural development. By 1981, ECHO began developing agricultural solutions for multiple nations and continues to carry on that mission today as it is working to fight global hunger and poverty. With better agricultural solutions, ECHO is helping farmers across the globe increase their agricultural output and understanding of more sustainable farming practices. This, in turn, helps improve the farmers’ standard of living.

Areas of Impact

Southwest Florida’s unique climate allowed ECHO, in 2001, to develop six different areas of tropical climate zones on the global farm. This allows researchers and farmers to test different growing methods and food production for different nations. Today, the farm includes tropical lowlands, tropical highlands, monsoon, semi-arid, rainforest clearing, community garden and urban garden as its areas of focus. ECHO spreads the technology it has developed through its Regional Impact Centers in Thailand, Tanzania and Burkina Faso, delivering information and improved farming practices to Asia, East Africa and West Africa, respectively.

The Importance of Seeds

Seed development and protection is a primary focus of ECHO. A heavy rain season can harm seeds for future planting and can set farmers back on producing a bountiful crop. Also, without diversifying the types of crops they grow, farmers are at risk of losing food and money without having the right seeds. ECHO in Florida is home to a seed bank that provides up to 300 different types of seeds to farmers around the world. These seeds are adaptable to different climates and terrains and help farmers diversify their crop production, allowing them to grow crops that are best suited for their environment.

Another problem that farmers face is keeping seeds dry and ready for the growing season — a difficult goal to achieve with humid climates and high temperatures. ECHO Regional Impact Center in Thailand is utilizing earthbags in its seed banks, which can keep seeds up to 16.5°C cooler than the surrounding environment. Seed drying cabinets also keep seeds dry by using heat and air circulation to keep seeds in a low humid environment so that they can be stored for a year or more.

Successful Practices

ECHO’s agricultural developments have been successfully used in communities around the world. In Togo, farmers are using resources provided by ECHO’s West Africa Regional Impact Center for the System of Rice Intensification, or SRI. SRI “reduces the need for water by half, requires only 10% of the seeds traditionally needed, and can increase yield by 20-100%.” This leads to farmers earning more than they would by using traditional farming methods. SRI is a practice that initially requires more labor and teaching to fully understand. However, with ECHO’s Regional Impact Centers, the organization is spreading the technology to help fight global hunger and poverty.

ECHO’s vital impact rests on teaching methods that farmers can share with each other. When one farmer has a successful crop, he is more likely to share the new methods he used with other farmers so that they can also have strong crop yields. This provides communities with more food, which helps to fight global hunger, and with more crops to sell, which helps lift farmers out of extreme poverty. By teaching farmers better practices that are sustainable and easily accomplished, ECHO is helping people around the world become more efficient and self-sustaining.

– Julia Canzano
Photo: Pixabay