Energy in TanzaniaAlong the coast of eastern Africa sits Tanzania, home to the continent’s tallest peak, Mount Kilimanjaro. Beside Kilimanjaro resides a population of 45 million people; the majority of them live in a rural setting- a full 74 percent. Yet, despite this rural majority, only two percent of rural residents have access to electricity – an issue which has contributed both to the rise of environmental issues and the cementation of cyclical rural poverty. A disconcerting 93.6 percent of rural residents are forced to use wood as fuel for cooking, which is a time-consuming necessity that has enabled deforestation and robbed individuals of time that could be spent in other ways had there been a different and viable energy option. Consequently, the issue of energy in Tanzania is one which requires efficient and diverse solutions.

Into this scenario walks a Dutch energy company called Devergy, whose innovative approach makes clean energy accessible to rural Tanzanians across the nation. Devergy works on a pay-as-you-go model, relying on mobile banking – a financial practice which is already widely used across many African nations.

This model allows consumers to control their energy consumption and their financials; one uses as much or as little as necessary based on his or her need and financial situation. It is a financially accessible option – energy “credits” cost as much as phone credits and less than kerosene lighting – that gives the consumer complete control. This ultimately empowers individuals by giving them the (literal) power to light their homes and businesses as much or as little as they need, all within the confines of their personally-dictated financial arena.

Importantly, the energy provided is also clean. Most rural areas do not have access to electrical grids, and the cost of expanding those grids is currently not economically feasible, which is why 90 percent of all energy consumption comes from biomass materials such as wood. Instead of trying to create access to the general energy grids already in place, the company instead installs solar micro-grids in villages. These micro-grids generate renewable energy, which is connected to homes by locally-trained technicians and accessed by the village inhabitants through the aforementioned model.

In the last two years, more than 150,000 lives have been impacted by implementing these micro-grids across the nation. Though there is still much work to be done to solve the energy issue in Tanzania, the future is looking bright as Devergy paves the way by providing clean, efficient energy to citizens of the country.

Kailee Nardi

Photo: Flickr

Education in Tanzania

There are currently 250 million children around the world who do not have access to primary or secondary education. Without suitable schooling, these children will never learn how to read or write properly. In order to combat this global issue, Elon Musk is funding a $15 million project with the XPrize Foundation in order to change the way education in Tanzania works.

The project is being carried out in the form of a competition called Global Learning XPrize, which began in September 2014. After months of hard work, 200 teams submitted their ideas for judging and 11 semi-finalists were chosen to move forward. The winning tablet is meant to show that children have the ability to teach themselves how to read and write.

While there were hundreds selected for the first round, only a small group of teams were chosen to continue to the semi-finals. These teams hail from all over the world, coming from countries such as India, China, Norway, Canada and South Africa. From Ottawa, Canada, Learn Leap Fly is using social software and story-based learning to teach reading, writing and arithmetic. Chimple, from Bangalore, uses 60 different explorative games and 70 different stories on their devices to teach their students.

Next month, XPrize will announce the five finalists, who will each receive $1 million so that they can take their technology to Tanzania and test its effectiveness over an 18-month period. During this time, children will work with the tablets and will be given several pre-and post-use tests to determine how working with the technology benefits them. After the winning tablet has been chosen, the team will be awarded $10 million to produce the product that will be distributed to children in 150 villages in Tanzania. Through this competition, both Elon Musk and XPrize hope to improve literacy and education in Tanzania as a whole.

Olivia Hayes

Photo: Flickr

Pregnant Students in TanzaniaMore than two dozen nonprofits have condemned the Tanzanian government for its refusal to educate teenage mothers and pregnant students in Tanzania.

Since the 1960s, Tanzanian schools have had the power to refuse educating pregnant students in Tanzania. This has culminated in 55,000 young mothers being expelled over the last decade, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights.

The protest came to a head when President John Magufuli commented on the matter. During a speech, Magufuli declared that no pregnant student will ever attend or return to school as long as he is president.

Magufuli reasons that educating pregnant students in Tanzania would encourage other girls to get pregnant as well. He also believes that teenagers would be too distracted to concentrate on school. The 29 organizations highlight how this stance against educating pregnant students in Tanzania infringes on their human rights. All students, according to Equality Now, have a right to education, regardless of whether or not they have a child.

Equality Now also highlight that the government’s actions unfairly puts the consequences of pregnancy solely on the mothers. According to The Guardian, 21 percent of girls between 15 and 19 in Tanzania are already mothers, oftentimes due to “rape, sexual violence and coercion.”
Lack of education, moreover, exacerbates the poverty that most of the pregnant students live in. Many young mothers are forced to take menial jobs in order to support themselves and their children.

Equality Now urges Tanzania to put the burden of pregnancy consequences on the sexual perpetrator rather than the victim. The organization requests that the government establishes stricter punishments for rapists in order to curtail teen pregnancy.

The organization also asks for more sexual education for teenagers. Unfortunately, many of the teenagers do not realize the connection between sex and pregnancy.

Finally, Equality Now has observed how other countries have readmitted pregnant or new teenage mothers. According to the nonprofit organization, there is no rise in pregnancies due to the presence of pregnant students.

The Tanzanian government is resistant to change on this matter. Magufuli feels that the foreign nonprofit organization are involving themselves in matters best left to the national government.

Regardless, organizations like Equality Now will continue working towards educating Tanzanian pregnant students.

Cortney Rowe

Photo: Flickr

Since attaining its independence in 1961, Tanzania has historically been a steady and nonviolent nation. However, Tanzania’s stability has led it to become a sanctuary for refugees fleeing neighboring conflict-ridden countries. Despite the challenge of hosting so many refugees, Tanzania’s borders remain open and welcoming. Here are 10 facts about refugees in Tanzania:

  1. There are currently about 290,000 refugees in Tanzania, with the majority coming from Burundi and the remainder from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
  2. An average of 700 refugees continues to arrive daily, straining the resources of the already overcrowded refugee camps.
  3. Burundian refugees arrive in Tanzania on the shore of Kakunga Beach. From there, they are carried by a series of boats to Kigoma Port, where they are bused to registration and granted asylum.
  4. Of the Burundian refugees taking shelter in Tanzania, about 78 percent are women and children.
  5. Tanzania is home to the world’s third largest refugee camp, Nyarugusu. Nyarugusu earned this status after it doubled in size due to the influx of Burundian refugees in April 2015.
  6. There are three primary refugee camps in Tanzania: Nyarugusu, Mtendeli and Nduta. All of these camps are at full capacity but continue to accept refugees.
  7. The camps, unprepared for the overflowing volume of refugees, have had to expand to nearby schools and churches for temporary shelters.
  8. Malaria is one of the biggest health risks to refugees in Tanzania, especially during the rainy season. Diarrhea, respiratory tract infections, and skin conditions are also very common.
  9. More than 100,000 refugees were vaccinated against cholera after an outbreak that killed 31 people. Since cholera is caused by unsanitary conditions and contaminated water, the camps have taken preventative measures by installing more sanitary regulations.
  10. In addition to creating sanitation standards, volunteers are providing hygiene education. These are both essential to prevent another outbreak as well as providing the refugees with knowledge they can employ once outside of the camps.

These 10 facts about refugees in Tanzania demonstrate the importance of aid and unity among borders. The dedication Tanzania has to help its neighbors is remarkable, and its effort to ensure that no individual is left behind is clear. Even as the camps begin to overflow, Tanzania continues to strive to give every refugee a fair chance.

Kelly Hayes

Photo: Flickr

In Tanzania, a sub-Saharan African country known for its national parks, diverse game and scenic wilderness, approximately two million young people were illiterate in 2011. Girls’ education in Tanzania, in particular, is an issue, as both adolescent and adult women demonstrate lower literacy rates than their male counterparts.

In 2012, literacy among women aged 15 to 24 was just 72.8 percent, while literacy among men in the same age group sat at 76.5 percent. The disparity becomes statistically significant among adults is even wider among adults: 75.5 percent of men and only 60.8 percent of women are literate.

In the country’s poorest areas, it is especially difficult for women to support themselves and their families, let alone further their education. In the northwest Tanzanian village of Kitenga, for instance, there is no running water or electricity, disease rates are high and scarce access to education, all of which are obstacles for girls who want to learn.

Enter the Immaculate Heart Sisters of Africa (IHSA), an organization committed to improving girls’ education in Tanzania. After partnering with the Girls’ Education Collaborative (GEC), which offers financial and logistical support, they launched the Kitenga Village Project. This project aims to raise the community from poverty by establishing basic resources, and, in January, it achieved its central objective when it opened the Kitenga School for Girls to educate girls in the community.

The school opened not only to encourage literacy but also to combat female genital mutilation and early marriage, both problems more likely to be faced by adolescent Tanzanian women without an education.

Currently, enrollment at the school stands at 59 girls from a variety of backgrounds. Having won the full support of the government, the GEC and the IHSA intend to accommodate a larger student body in the future. Plans for expansion include a library and housing for 1,500 boarding students.

The Kitenga School for Girls’ central vision is to provide girls from destitute families with an exceptional range of knowledge and skills. Students will have access to career and leadership coaching, health studies and life skills training, as well as a safe and secure environment.

Though women in poverty continue to face gendered hardships, access to schools creates greater opportunities. With the innovative efforts of organizations like the GEC and the IHSA, girls’ education in Tanzania is likely to continue growing.

Madeline Forwerck

Photo: Flickr

Student Essay Contests Spread HIV Awareness in Tanzania
The most recent USAID report on HIV awareness in Tanzania shows improvement, with more than 1.8 million people in the 2016 fiscal year receiving HIV testing and counseling. The local nonprofit Pretty Development for Poverty Reduction (PDPR) is focusing on HIV awareness outside of U.S. intervention, though, and one of the ways they are doing so is having secondary education students in Tanzania compete in an essay contest about the risks of the disease and how to prevent it.

Though they operate across Tanzania, PDPR is based out of the Njombe district, where HIV is more prevalent than anywhere else in the country. For reference, in Zanzibar, prevalence is .2 percent, while in Njombe, it is 15.4 percent.

More than one million people were living with HIV/AIDS in Tanzania in 2015. This number is high, but new infections have declined 20 percent in the past five years, and there are half as many annual fatalities now than in 2010.  This indicates that awareness and prevention programs are benefiting the country.

In addition to writing about HIV/AIDS, the students are encouraged to explore the topics of globalization and climate change. PDPR hopes this range of issues will help young citizens gain determination to develop a better world.

PDPR focuses their efforts in rural areas where they can reach the women, children, small-scale farmers and businessmen, the most marginalized and impoverished groups in Tanzania.

They work under the Njombe District Non-governmental Organization (NJODINGO), and as they continue to allocate funds hope to organize vocational training programs, farmers organizations, civic education and a radio station.

The essay contest, spreading HIV awareness in Tanzania, is one of many ways that PDPR hopes to instill a sense of civic responsibility in the youth of the Njombe district and the whole country. Through implementing new ways to achieve awareness, only positive change can result.

Brooke Clayton

Photo: Flickr

Due to widespread pollution, the water quality in Tanzania is poor. While the nation as a whole is affected, cities on the coast receive the most contaminated water because of insufficient sewage regulation.

Untreated sewage is often deposited into the sea, polluting the country’s coastal waters. Not only does this threaten marine biodiversity, but it has spread diseases on land as well. Salim M. Mohammed, a researcher at the University of Dar es Salaam, says that the most common of these diseases are diarrhea, gastroenteritis, cholera and dysentery, all of which can cause death under certain circumstances.

Sewage mismanagement occurs inland as well, although the dynamics vary. Ground wells, which provide water to some Tanzanians, are often contaminated by leaks from drainage systems. As a result, the water often contains fecal matter that people have no choice but to drink from, bathe in or wash their clothes in, as reported by The Water Project.

Aside from domestic waste, these coastal cities often experience industrial pollution as well. For example, debris may stem from textile production, oil and gas regulation or food processing that affects the quality of the water.

And while coastal cities may suffer from dirtier water, other coastal areas experience contamination as well. The difference comes, as Mohammed states, in that these residents suffer from the input of agricultural wastes, such as pesticides and fertilizers, via rivers and streams compared to domestic or industrial wastes.

While water purification is a complex issue, the immediate solution would involve an improvement in sewage regulation. The government of Tanzania needs to build more sewerage systems, and governmental policies must ensure its widespread implementation. Otherwise, only a small percentage of the population will continue to have access to these systems.

Likewise, similar policies must be enforced to ensure that industrial and agricultural waste does not pollute the water. If such methods are executed through the strategic use of financial resources, it is certain that the water quality in Tanzania will improve.

Gigi DeLorenzo

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Tanzania
Tanzania, officially the United Republic of Tanzania, is a country in Eastern Africa that is home to natural wonders like Mount Kilimanjaro and Lake Victoria. Although the country is rich in natural resources, poverty in Tanzania persists.

10 Important Facts about Poverty in Tanzania

  1. In Tanzania, 67.9 percent of the population lives below the poverty line.
  2. Extreme poverty in Tanzania has declined in recent years, from 11.7 percent in 2006 to 9.7 percent in 2012.
  3. Poverty leads to hunger. Roughly 42 percent of children under five in Tanzania suffer from chronic malnutrition and 16 percent are underweight.
  4. Malnutrition affects children’s physical development. The rate of stunting in Tanzania ranks third in sub-Saharan Africa, after Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
  5. Many of the most commonly eaten foods in Tanzania, such as potatoes and cassava, are inexpensive but lack essential nutrients. Some schools in Tanzania now hold nutrition classes for students in hopes of reducing malnutrition.
  6. On average, women in Tanzania will have five children. Slowing fast population growth and the high fertility rate by empowering women through education support and family planning services is key to reducing poverty in Tanzania.
  7. Poverty is highest in rural areas, with around 80 percent of the country’s poor living in those regions.
  8. Poverty is also highest among female-headed households, particularly those that depend on livestock or food-crop production for their livelihood.
  9. Young girls and women in Tanzania often suffer from more nutritional deficiencies than men. One-third of women are deficient in iron, iodine, and vitamin A and two-fifths are anemic.
  10. Cash transfer programs, which have been successful in other parts of the world, have proven in recent years to be effective in Tanzania. While families do not receive large sums of money, it is enough to free them from constant subsistence farming and allows them to focus on generating additional, more stable, sources of income.

While improvements have been made in reducing poverty in Tanzania, much of the population still suffers from malnutrition and poor living conditions. Continuing to strengthen the economy through initiatives such as cash transfer and family planning programs could help further reduce poverty in Tanzania.

Alexi Worley

Photo: Flickr

 Education in Kilimanjaro
The Importance of Education in Kilimanjaro is a 24-portrait photography exhibition in Moshi, Tanzania that is advocacy-based. The exhibition premiered in 2014 and was led by the Inside Out Project. The exhibition traveled from a small village in France, Rogerville, to the school of Mbokumu in Tanzania, which is located in a village by Kilimanjaro.

The Inside Out Project was created by JR, a French artist and photographer, after he received the TED Prize in 2011. Speaking about the project, JR said, “I wish for you to stand up for what you care about by participating in a global art project, and together we’ll turn the world…inside out.”

The goal of the project is to allow worldwide participation by taking people’s portraits and publicly displaying them in exhibitions to support certain ideas or experiences. Since 2011, Inside Out has had 260,000 participants across the globe in 129 different countries.

Each one of the 24 portraits in the Importance of Education in Kilimanjaro project is taken by a schoolchild of a different age. Additional photos in the exhibition picture the children putting the exhibition together. They are seen laughing, dancing and helping the Inside Out team paste the large-scale photographs throughout the streets.

In Moshi, Tanzania, there are many issues regarding education in the community. There are high drop-out rates, students miss school on a regular basis and there are low levels of progression. Most schools in the area face challenges such as a lack of reliable transportation, classrooms and teachers. The exhibition speaks to the necessity for children to be able to access quality education, despite their background. No matter where they are born, every child deserves equal access to education.

In addition to The Importance of Education in Kilimanjaro, many of the Inside Out Project’s exhibits speak to the significance of education across the globe

Shannon Elder

Photo: Flickr

Innovations in Agriculture
As Tanzania’s farming sector begins to shift to producing various other goods, the innovations in agriculture that enhance the productivity of the farming process are quick to follow.

Recently, the country has witnessed a transformation in its agriculture sector, especially among its smallholder farmers, after realizing the extraordinary benefits of sesame seeds.

Being both drought-resistant and considerably more resilient to climate change effects than other products, sesame has become Tanzania’s new popular food output. However, with these benefits also comes a drawback.

Though farming is essential and necessary for the well-being of the country’s citizens, the activity can sometimes be tedious and tiresome.

Sesame farming in Tanzania is labor-intensive and prolonged work, traditionally done completely by hand. Bending down, creating centimeter deep holes, dropping seeds and walking a great distance can lead to, among other things, back pain and fatigue.

That is where the phrase “necessity is the mother of invention” rang true.

In response to complaints from fellow farmers, Constantine Martin from the Babati District created an innovation in agriculture that has since been welcomed and implemented by all.

Named the “Coasta Planter,” it is simply a hand-pushed machine designed to plant sesame seeds by digging a small hole and dropping seeds in, without the need of a person constantly bending down to do so.

Additionally, the Coasta Planter is also more efficient than humans, planting the seeds at a higher rate of speed. This significant upscale in food production and potential output could lead to the strengthening of Tanzania’s food security.

Agriculture is an essential part of Tanzania’s economy, especially in terms of food production and employment generation. As of 2015, agriculture accounts for 30.5 percent of the country’s GDP and employs 75 percent of the total labor force.

To further improve and promote the importance and longevity of the agriculture sector in Tanzania, initiatives such as Feed the Future have invested in the people and the country, specifically focusing on products including rice and maize.

With this new invention in hand, farmers all across the country should expect an easier workload in the future as further clever innovations in agriculture continue to be thought of and created, enhancing Tanzania’s food security one seed at a time.

Jordan J. Phelan