Posts Tagged ‘Tanzania’

Significant investment in agricultural education, followed by targeted micro-loans, is having a hugely positive effect on Tanzania’s agricultural sector, according to Robert Pascal, the head of agri-business for Tanzania’s National Microfinance Bank (NMB).

Operating primarily in parts of the country where farming is still the main source of income, the NMB currently has over 170 branch offices in 90 different regions nationwide. Thanks in part to a $588 million loan from the U.S., the bank has been able to issue micro-loans to over 261,000 farmers throughout Tanzania.

Before issuing these loans, however, the bank invests in a more far-reaching, structural fashion, providing educational opportunities on topics ranging from fertilizer benefits to improving overall farm efficiency. About 500,000 farmers nationwide have attended the seminars.

The seminars are helping spread best practices in a sector that still comprises some 30%+ of Tanzania’s GDP.

Currently just 16-17% of Tanzanian farmers employ basic fertilizers to improve crop yields, and 92% of farmers still rely on hand hoes to harvest their crops. Training on how to employ more modern technologies, followed by loans that allow the farmers to invest in them, have already been showing positive results.

The NMB has been working closely with agricultural research institutions and farm equipment suppliers to ensure the program is functioning smoothly from start to finish.

To date, the NMB has issued upwards of $150 million in targeted micro-loans at every level of the agricultural production chain.

“Substantial finance to agriculture, particularly in the latest and most relevant technology, is an important component in commercializing” the business, Pascal said. “The NMB will continue to support farmers to make farming a highly paying business.”

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Too often, our idea of daily life in a developing country says more about us, the viewers, than it does about the individuals we’re looking at. Our preconceived notions make it hard to truly understand others’ experiences, the first, necessary step to helping them take positive steps forward.

The Disposable Project puts the power of that all-important first impression in the hands of the people best-equipped to tell their stories: the children of Tanzania.

Started by Raul Guerrero in 2011 in Moshi, Tanzania, the project began when Guerrero simply handed 100 disposable cameras to nine schoolchildren, asking them to document their daily experiences.

Guerrero went on to offer basic photography training to the students, teaching them not only how to frame a shot, but how to use the medium to tell a story.

Credit: The Disposable Project

Guerrero collected the images the children captured—a collective portrait of their community—in a book: The Disposable Project. Proceeds from its sale go to Born to Learn, a Moshi-based NGO that gets disadvantaged children off the streets and into classrooms. Though still small and locally focused, the group has big goals, including its own dedicated school that can take in many of the thousands upon thousands of Tanzanian children currently receiving little or no education.

The images in the book offer a fascinating glimpse into the day-to-day lives of this often overlooked population. Not only are the kids involved in the project gaining valuable skills that will help them have a brighter future, they’re sharing an intimate, revealing portrait of life on the fringes.

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Tanzania is joining a new task force designed to curb poaching of endangered species, as well as to reduce the illegal export and trafficking of ivory in the region. The country will be aided in this effort by the United States, the European Union, Germany, China, the World Bank and the United Nations Development Programs (UNDP).

The new coalition is the latest move in a multi-pronged effort to reduce poaching in East Africa, and follows months of increasing efforts by the Tanzanian government to reduce poaching within its borders.

Increased patrols and stricter penalties for poaching have not been enough to end the slaughter, however. According to Tanzania’s Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Lazaro Nyalandu, that will require outside help. Nyalandu noted that international partners must make efforts to reduce worldwide demand for ivory and other wildlife products if the government of Tanzania can ever hope to fully eradicate the problem.

Philippe Dongier, a representative of the World Bank, promised that the development partners will provide Tanzania with much-needed resources, including vehicles, communications technology, weapons, and training.

“We will scale up the efforts and call for action against such illegal activities at the international level,” Dongier added.

The Tanzanian government has promised to not only go after poachers, but to issue stern penalties to anyone found to be in possession of illegal wildlife materials.

“Our aim is to ensure the illegal business comes to an end…we want to save the elephants,” Minister Nyalandu said.

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Though the latest Ebola outbreak has been centered in West Africa, over 5,000 miles away, Tanzanian officials are taking precautions now to ensure that the country remains free from the virus.

Government officials are ramping up surveillance at all entry points into the country to ensure that the infection never makes its way into Tanzania. They’re simultaneously working to train airport personnel to recognize symptoms and prevent entry of suspected carriers, as well as medical personnel, so that in the unlikely instance that a case is found in Tanzania, treatment can be swift and effective.

Dr. Elias Kwesi, Assistant Director of Disasters and Emergency in the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, said: “The training on how to combat Ebola just in case it erupts here has been there even before the disease erupted in the West African countries, and at the moment we will keep on training more and more personnel so as to have enough of them just in case the pandemic erupts in our country.” To date, over 200 medical professionals and eight airport workers have already received special training.

In addition, airports and the major border crossing at Namanga have been outfitted with special equipment to more effectively screen for the infection. Other major border crossings can expect similar specialized equipment to arrive soon.

The government is also directing all referral and regional hospitals to prepare emergency isolation wards now, so that any suspected cases can be effectively contained and treated.

The World Health Organization has certified that Tanzania has had no suspected or confirmed cases of ebola to date.

 

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Recent reports indicate that Tanzania has managed to reduce maternal mortality rates by two-thirds since 2000, an achievement that puts the country well ahead of schedule in attaining this important UN Millenium Development Goal (MDG).

The MDGs were originally outlined in 2000, with all 189 UN then-member states committing themselves to achieving eight goals by 2015:

  1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
  2. Achieve universal primary education
  3. Promote gender equality and empower women
  4. Reduce child mortality
  5. Improve maternal health
  6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases
  7. Ensure environmental sustainability
  8. Develop a global partnership for development

Each of the goals was tied to specific benchmarks; to achieve goal 5, developing nations couldn’t merely reduce maternal mortality, they had to reduce it by 75% or more from 1990 levels by the year 2015. Tanzania has already achieved this remarkable turnaround, thanks to concerted efforts in recent years to educate women about health issues, provide greater access to women’s health services, and reach rural communities, often most affected by all the problems the MDGs are meant to combat.

Commitments from NGOs, development partners, and the Tanzanian government have all helped contribute to this success.

Speaking at an international summit on maternal and infant health in Toronto, Tanzanian president Jakaya Kikwete indicated that, despite meeting targets ahead of schedule, Tanzania is still working to further improve maternal outcomes. Bringing new maternity wards and operation facilities to all district health centers is one of Kikwete’s top priorities, especially for the over 12,000 small rural villages in Tanzania, many of which currently lack access to adequate healthcare, maternal or otherwise.

Despite significant challenges, chief among them a lack of trained medical workers, gynecologists, and midwives, Kikwete has set a lofty goal for the country: zero deaths in childbirth. If things continue improving for mothers in Tanzania, the country may just be on the path towards achieving that sooner than later.

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