Tanzania is an East African country that has a current population of more than 60 million. Although this country is known in part for its large agricultural sectors, it has continually faced food shortages and hunger crisis over the course of its existence. Hunger continually proves to be an ongoing battle and although there has been significant progress, poor nutrition remains a crucial development challenge for the country. In the text below, a list of the top 10 facts about hunger in Tanzania is presented.
Top 10 Facts About Hunger in Tanzania
- One of the reasons hunger is extremely hard to overcome is because of the continuous droughts Tanzania faces, which results in insufficient harvests. Almost half of the year is marked by a dry season given there is hardly any rainfall from June to October. Even after the dry season is over, the following six months are the most scarce in many Tanzanian households because the next harvest usually does not occur until March. This creates almost a year-long struggle of food shortages and lingering hunger.
- Food insecurity affects the population in rural areas significantly more than the population in the city. Surveys show that, although 64 percent of people living in cities suffer food shortages, the percentage rises to about 84 percent in people from rural areas. The simple reason for this statistic is that in rural areas the majority of the population relies on subsistence agriculture for their food.
- There is a generational transfer of undernutrition. Around 10 percent of women are undernourished and, in turn, they give birth to low-weight babies. These infants become malnourished both in their childhood and later in life. These children can grow up uneducated or not being able to work very hard. This cycle of poverty has made it extremely difficult for poor households to escape poverty and malnutrition.
- The first 1,000 days of a child’s life are the most crucial time to prevent lifelong malnutrition. These days consists of a period from the pregnancy up until the second birthday of a child. This can either result in the establishment of healthy growth and adequate nutrition or poor nutrition which will affect the entirety of their life.
- Forty-two percent of all children under the age of 5 suffer from stunting in the country. This equivalates to about 3.3 million children. Stunting is mostly caused by a lack of adequate nutrition from food, therefore the millions of children are not only stunted but also experiencing acute or severe malnourishment as well.
- Stunting rates in children under the age of 5 have declined by 8.1 percent from 2010 to 2015. This progress has been possible due to improved coordination of nutrition activities and increased nutrition-based budgets. This includes the participation of both the government and development partners, including the United States.
- In 2012, Tanzania joined the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, establishing a separate budget solely for improving nutrition and hunger by means of agriculture. The New Alliance has several goals, including reducing poverty and hunger, achieving sustained agriculture-led growth in Africa and relieving 50 million people of poverty in Africa by 2022. Tanzania has specifically committed to policy actions in business, inputs, land, nutrition, trade and markets.
- In 2014/2015, more than half of the nutrition-related funding came from foreign resources. Funding from development partners accounted for 55.8 percent while the remaining 44.2 percent came from both local and central government. The Tanzania Food and Nutrition Center working to decrease malnutrition also received 92 percent of their funding by outside donors.
- Tanzania ranks sixth among 45 African government’s political commitment to combat hunger and undernutrition. The Hunger and Nutrition Index for Africa ranks 45 governments on their commitment and Tanzania scores in the “green zone” representing high commitment. The HNI develops the index by ranking the performance of the countries based on 22 different indicators of political commitment.
- There are several USAID programs that are active in Tanzania and that focus on nutrition. One of the most significant is Feed The Future. This initiative is making agriculture a driver of economic growth by focusing on five key investment areas: agriculture, nutrition, policy, infrastructure and institutional capacity. Besides Feed the Future, there are several other USAID programs working to decrease the numbers of people in poverty and facing malnutrition in Tanzania.
The top 10 facts about hunger in Tanzania presented above are difficult to read and to understand. Even harder is to comprehend the reality that more than 60 million people in this country are facing. However, there is hope in the sense of the continuous progress and actions that are being made to help fight the currently ongoing hunger crisis in the country.
– Savannah Huls