TACOMA, Washington — Tanzania is a country in East Africa that gained independence in 1964. Although the country’s GDP increased by 10% from 2007 to 2012, the numbers have decreased in recent years. Tanzania is still home to more than 25 million people who live on less than $1.90 per day. Tanzania’s high poverty rate is rooted in central agriculture, education and healthcare issues. However, there are 3 organizations fighting poverty in Tanzania.
Recoda and Agriculture in Tanzania
More than 75% of Tanzania’s population relies on the agricultural sector for employment and faces challenges in unpredictable weather and a lack of infrastructure. Additionally, Tanzania’s rapidly growing population contributes to an increase in subsistence farming rather than growing farms. Recoda, founded in 2000, aims to reduce poverty and food insecurity by bringing research and community initiatives to Tanzania’s subsistence farming population.
Recoda’s Rural Initiatives for Participatory Agricultural Transformation (RIPAT) increases agricultural production, crop storage and processing while emphasizing the use of local resources. RIPAT uses research from its Research and Development Center to encourage farmers to use farming technology and to employ more sustainable farming practices. The program also mobilizes communities of farmers to empower each other in small groups called Farmer Field Schools and particularly impacts female farmers who face additional economic difficulties.
To ensure that farmers of diverse backgrounds and needs engage with the program, RIPAT provides farmers with a strong sense of agency that allows them to choose from a variety of tools and techniques that can improve their farms. RIPAT is working to enhance farming practices, improve nutrition and increase the availability and use of farming tools and technologies. Through extensive research and the RIPAT program, Recoda provides subsistence farmers the opportunity to grow their farms in an affordable, sustainable manner.
Room to Read
In Tanzania, obstacles caused by gender discrimination reduce the number of girls pursuing secondary school. Female students often drop out of secondary school due to enrollment inequalities, a lack of sanitation products and “pressure from families to marry.” As a result, 63% of secondary school dropouts were girls in 2010. Room to Read collaborates with girls, families and schools to identify when girls are at risk of dropping out and provides resources for girls to stay in school.
Room to Read piloted its Girls Education Program in Tanzania in 2015. The program noted common warning-signs of dropping out in girls such as failing an exam, lack of parental support, absence from school and missing life skills classes. After intervention and encouragement to participate in literacy programs, 99% of Tanzanian girls in the program passed their cumulative exams to progress to the next grade.
Room to Read has served girls all across Tanzania and continues to broaden its reach. The organization also encourages families to check out books from their Room to Read libraries. This fosters a culture of reading and literacy in young people. In schools with Room to Read libraries, students check out an average of 16 books per student, indicating the organization’s success in promoting active literacy skills.
Tanzania Health Promotion Support HIV Treatment
Tanzania comes in at 12 for the worst HIV rates and has the sixth-highest maternal mortality rate in the world. It faces a multitude of healthcare issues that exacerbate the country’s poverty. Without adequate access and quality of healthcare, Tanzania’s rural poor are particularly at risk for infection and lack of awareness. Tanzania Health Promotion Support mentors health service providers to ensure that their facilities and services align with national standards with an emphasis on HIV prevention, infrastructure development and research. The organization supports more than 600 health facilities in Zanzibar and Tanzania.
Tanzania Health Promotion Support is currently working on a project to improve the accuracy and accessibility of rapid HIV tests in health facilities across Tanzania. To advocate for prevention, the organization mentors peer counselors in the community who consult local youth groups about safer sex practices and assist with contact tracing. The organization has sponsored 39 youth groups to build community among adolescents with HIV.
Tanzania Health Promotion Support Maternal and Newborn Health
In addition to their focus on HIV, Tanzania Health Promotion Support works to improve maternal and newborn health, provide cervical cancer screenings and aim to prevent gender-based violence. The organization provided cervical cancer screenings for nearly 50,000 women between 2011 and 2017, directly confronting the fact that cervical cancer is the leading cause of death for women in Tanzania.
As of 2017, the organization has reached 571 women and children subjected to violence. By working with local governments, NGOs and the private health sector, Tanzania Health Promotion Support has been able to increase its access to Tanzania’s population and provide a wide scope of aid.
These three organizations are fighting poverty in Tanzania through improvements in agriculture, education and healthcare. However, the government needs to emphasize policies that support agricultural investments so that small-scale farmers have the economic opportunities to grow their businesses and obtain food security. Additionally, the Tanzanian government should continue to focus on Sustainable Development Goals to encourage women to participate in the educational system and improve their access to healthcare. The government should follow the example Recoda, Room to Read and Tanzania Health Promotion Support to ensure Tanzania’s continued progress.
– Melina Stavropoulos