Social Issues in tanzania

Information on the social issues ongoing in tanzania:

Tanzania has been a macro-economic success story for nearly two decades. The rate of economic growth increased from 3.5 pct. in the 1990s to 7 pct. in the 2000s. Despite the global financial crisis, growth rates have been remarkably stable over the last decade, and they are expected to continue or even increase in the foreseeable future. At the same time, the country has experienced high population growth – from 11 million people in 1963 to around 45 million in 2012. Population growth remains high, at nearly 3 pct. annually. If this growth rate continues, there will be 53 million Tanzanians in 2018 and 100 million in 2042.

Economic growth and decades of massive international aid have created many good results, but it is important to recall that the growth began from a very low starting point and that poverty in Tanzania has proven extremely stubborn. With an annual GDP per capita of USD 532 (2011) and a Human Development Index rank among the lowest 20%, Tanzania is one of the poorest 15 nations in the world. More than two-thirds of the population live below the internationally recognized income poverty line of USD 1.25 per day and almost 90 pct. live on under two dollars per day. Around one-third live below the “basic needs poverty line” corresponding to around USD 0.96 per day.1 Measured by this limit, official poverty levels declined slightly from 39% of the population in 1992 to 34% in 2007, to 28% in 2012. Due to population growth, however, this relative decrease still means that the actual number of people living below the poverty line has remained relatively constant level of 11-12 million Tanzanians. Official surveys show a constant level of inequality from 2001 to 2007 (Gini 0.35). Other calculations, however, show a 20% increase in inequality in the same period.2 The degree of inequality can be illustrated by the fact that the richest 20% of Tanzania’s population accounts for 42% of total consumption, whereas the poorest 20% consume only 7%.

The modest reduction in poverty illustrates that economic growth has not been sufficiently broad-based. Growth is concentrated in telecommunications, financial services, retail trade, mining, tourism, construction and manufacturing. While growth was formerly driven largely by public spending and international aid, this is no longer the case. Growth today is generated mainly by the private sector, but the sectors with the highest rates of growth are predominantly capital-intensive and concentrated in large urban areas. Growth has largely failed to affect the great challenges, generating more employment and additional jobs in all parts of society and improving incomes for the vast majority of the population.

One major cause for the lack of poverty reduction despite economic growth is that Tanzania has not succeeded in raising productivity in agriculture over the last decades. Tanzania remains predominantly agricultural, with three quarters of the population living in rural areas. Eighty percent of Tanzania’s poor live in rural households. Growth in the agricultural sector remains low, at around 4% per year, and in the rural areas the growth in productivity can barely keep up with population growth. The birth rates in rural areas are high (6.1 births per woman compared to 3.7 in the urban areas).

While donors and the government have used significant resources to improve the social sectors, similar necessary support has not been given to agriculture and other productive sectors. Lack of secure land tenure to ensure that the traditional users in the rural districts do not lose their land is one of the most essential issues, constraining investments that could enhance productivity. Processing of food and other agricultural produce and other forms of manufacturing is also very limited in the rural areas creating very few additional employment opportunities.

For the same reason, Tanzania is experiencing significant out-migration of young people from low productivity agriculture to urban informal service sectors, where productivity is just as low. Unemployment is high and growing rapidly, especially in the urban areas and among youth. The official unemployment rate is 12% and is highest in the cities, reaching 32% in Dar es Salaam (2006). In addition, one-third of those employed are so-called “working poor”: technically employed, but whose income is less than the basic needs poverty line of USD 0.96 per day. They often work either in farming or in the urban informal service sector in low-productivity, part-time jobs. An estimated 700,000 new young job-seekers enter the labour market each year, but only a fraction of them have a realistic possibility of obtaining a stable job that can give them the possibility to provide for a family. The flow from countryside to city of rural-urban migration will continue in years ahead, and Dar es Salaam is already one of the fastest growing cities in Africa.

In sharp contrast to the largely stagnating extreme poverty, Tanzania has seen the emergence of a small, but growing urban middle class. It is a relatively small group, only around 10% of the population, but it has growing purchasing power, substantial political influence, and it has posed political and economic demands – for cheap electricity, imported goods, and better urban social services and infra-structure in the urban areas. The Government is working hard to meet these demands, through for instance, large subsidies for cheap electricity, comprehensive tax exemptions to foreign and national companies as well as government employees, and large non-taxed per diem allowances for civil servants. These government’s attempts to satisfy the middle class run the risk of further increasing, rather than reducing, the inequality in society. This can threaten the continued peace and stability as well as social cohesion in Tanzania.

With the recent discoveries of significant gas reserves in addition to its already large mineral resources, Tanzania’s long-term economic prospects appear promising, and these resources have already attracted foreign investors. However, the benefits to be derived from the exploitation of natural resources will not significantly materialize for another 10 years or so, and it is crucial to ensure macroeconomic management. In recent years, the Government has increased its use of both interest-bearing and low interest concessional borrowing. 

As a result of the increased borrowing, Tanzania’s public debt has jumped from 28% to 40% of GDP in only four years. The debt continues to grow rapidly, with corresponding increase in debt servicing and repayment. The country’s financial sustainability is not yet threatened, but debt management has become increasingly more important, and there is a strong need for significant strengthening of control of public investments. There is especially a need for greater openness in public contracts and procurement. 
Poverty cannot be measured simply by examining income distribution and distribution of assets alone. The official statistics focus only on private consumption and therefore underestimate the importance of consumption of public goods. The statistics thus underestimate the improvements achieved in recent years. The Tanzanian government has chosen to spend significant resources on provision of public goods to the population. As a consequence, access to water, education and health services have improved substantially over the last decades. As a result, Tanzania has moved up seven places on the Human Development Index (HDI) from 2006 to 2013, an index published by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Tanzania has also made progress in its efforts to meet the UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Tanzania has placed special emphasis on education, and great improvements have been made in the population’s access to primary education. Today, Tanzania is one of the few low-income countries that are close to achieving universal primary education. Progress has also been made in efforts to reduce inequalities between girls and boys in access to education and in the struggle against HIV/AIDS, malaria and several other diseases. In the health sector, general success has been achieved in extending access to basic health services, and the results can be seen in the increasing number of children who survive. There have been declines in both infant mortality rate (the official child mortality rate) as well as in mortality for children under five years of age. However, there continue to be major challenges in reducing maternal mortality. Public spending on education has increased substantially in recent years, whereas health expenditures have declined, both in absolute value and as a share of the national budget.

Across all social sectors, there are major and sustained needs to increase the quality of services offered. The massive expansion of coverage and the attempt to reach out to everyone with education and health services, has reduced the quality of services across the board. Recent studies show comprehensive and persistent quality problems in both primary and secondary education, the consequence being that pupils leave school with entirely inadequate skills. In 2012, 60% of the students failed the public secondary school examinations.
The quality of primary health care has been negatively affected by a range of factors, including shortage and poor distribution of health workers, poor access to essential medicines and poor infrastructure. This situation is further affected by the rapidly growing population. One of the signs that the quality of healthcare services is inadequate is seen in the fact that there has been only a very slight increase in the proportion of women, who give birth at a public health institution. In 2004, 47% of Tanzania’s women gave birth in public health clinics. Six years later in 2010, the proportion had increased to only 50%.
Over the past years, the government of Tanzania has managed to reduce the proportion of unfilled health worker positions from 65% in 2007 to 41% in 2011. This is a significant improvement, but it is still just over half the positions which are occupied.
Access to social services continues to be unequally distributed. For both health and education, there are significant disparities in access to services and in the distribution of public expenditures to different groups in society. This concerns differences between rich and poor, where one lives in the country and differences between rural and urban areas. For example, the number of nurses in the health services per capita is 30 times greater in the best endowed district in the country than the worst. More than half of all Tanzania’s physicians work in Dar es Salaam. It is therefore not surprising to see that the proportion of women who choose to deliver their babies in health clinics is also three times greater than in the rest of the country. This shows how important it is to have strong focus on improving the quality and equal access for the population to social services. These factors that have been somewhat overlooked by the MDG’s focus on achieving as many targets as possible. 
From a regional perspective, Tanzania continues to have a relatively positive human rights record. Tanzania has ratified most of the international human rights instruments and established institutional frameworks to support democratic governance and the implementation of human rights. After the UN’s most recent Universal Periodic Review from 2011, the Tanzanian government accepted several of the recommendations made by the review. This can be seen as a sign of the Tanzanian government’s continued commitment to improve the human rights situation. However, despite the positive general framework, there remains considerable scope for very significant improvements in the actual human rights situation for the population in general.

The constitution provides for basic civil and political rights, including freedom of assembly and freedom of speech. Civil society and media outlets have played a much greater role in domestic politics in recent years, and this has led to increased surveillance of media by the government. However, freedom of expression, access to information and media freedom are regulated by outdated legislation, that enables the government to ban critical newspapers, and several have been banned for various periods of time. Self-censorship is also occurring. The judiciary remains largely independent, but there has been concern over incidences of Tanzania not having lived up to international standards of fair trial, while corruption continues to be a major challenge. Lack of capacity and resource constraints, including legal, are a further obstacle for the majority of citizens gaining effective access to the rule of law, based on timely and just treatment of their cases. In addition, there occur occasional incidents of mob justice and extra judicial killings.

While efforts have been made to promote the practical implementation of economic, social and cultural rights, the full realization of these rights continues to be a major challenge. Unemployment is high, and international labour standards are not effectively implemented or enforced effectively. Gender inequalities are deeply rooted in socio-cultural traditions, and violence against women and children, including domestic violence, female genital mutilation, and child labour continue to be widespread. There is also widespread continuing concern over lack of secure sexual and reproductive rights, the result of which are continued high rates of preventable infant, under-five and maternal mortality. There are also very high rates of teenage pregnancies, and women lack access to information and assistance in family planning and other reproductive health care services. Further, some minority groups like CCDOs (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex), people with albinism and indigenous groups continue to face discrimination in Tanzanian society.