Despite recent economic growth, the United Republic of Tanzania is one of the least developed countries in the world, ranking 152nd out of 187 countries on the Human Development Index (UNDP 2011). While the country has experienced a healthy 6-7% annual growth in GDP over the last 10 years, this has not effectively translated into reduced poverty – particularly for those in rural areas. The percent of population below the poverty line dropped only five percentage points (39% to 34%) between 1990 and 2008, falling far short of the progress needed to meet its MDG goal of 19% by 2015. Moreover, poor nutritional outcomes continue to persist: In 2010, 42% of children remained stunted (DHS 2010). Adding to the economic burden, one third of families care for and house at least one foster or orphaned child.

PCI/Tanzania began operations in 2008 with a water and sanitation improvement project funded by the Starbucks Foundation Ethos Water Fund. This three-year project provided access to clean water to 33,000 people living in the rural Manyara Region by constructing and rehabilitating 129 water points, forming community-led water user groups, and improving water and sanitation practices. Currently, PCI is implementing a three-year US Department of Agriculture-funded Food for Education program in partnership with the Government of Tanzania and local communities. The program is increasing enrollment and attendance of pre- and primary school children through the provision of school-based meals and complementary interventions designed to improve the health and quality of learning environments. Also, in partnership with Kansas State University, PCI is implementing a field-based nutritional efficacy study to assess changes in nutritional status among children under five through the provision of novel, fortified sorghum-based food aid products, the findings of which will inform PCI’s nutrition programming in Tanzania as well as global food aid policies and practices.

In 2010, PCI initiated a three-year Food for Education program in 103 public primary and pre-primary education schools, with the objective of increasing children’s access to education and improving the quality of that education. To increase children’s access to education, PCI works with the District Governments of Bunda and Musoma Rural to provide daily school meals and increase the capacity of Village Councils and School Committees to identify and address barriers to access to school for girls and boys, and mobilize communities to contribute time, funds, and in-kind goods to actively participate in all aspects of the program.

In addition, PCI works hand-in-hand with a variety of local stakeholders and builds their capacity to construct and use ecological stoves, establish child-led School Health Clubs, conduct de-worming campaigns, construct school latrines and rainwater harvesting tanks, and cultivate school gardens. To improve the quality of education, PCI improves student-to-textbook ratios and works closely with the Ministry of Education and vocational training and education officials at all levels to increase teachers’ skills through training on child-centered teaching methodologies.

The Food for Education program benefits 70,000 children and 880 teachers, and reaches approximately 260,000 community members in the districts of Musoma Rural and Bunda located in the Mara Region of Tanzania, which suffers from some of the highest levels of chronic poverty, persistent drought and food insecurity in the country. These challenges contribute to poor education outcomes in Mara Region, where the pass rates in primary school were a mere 52% for boys and only 34% for girls in 2011, the second worst region in the entire country (BEST, 2011). Prior to project interventions, 90% of female caregivers in Bunda and Musoma Rural districts reported that their children “rarely” or “never” consumed a meal prior to going to school. Through the Food for Education program, the daily meals provided to students in 103 schools are now resulting in significant increases in enrollment and attendance.

To develop new and locally appropriate food aid products, PCI is working in partnership with Kansas State University to implement a rigorous field-based study to test the nutritional efficacy and consumer acceptance of novel, high-protein and fortified food aid products among women and children under five in Bunda and Musoma Rural Districts of Mara Region. Half of Mara’s population is assessed to be food insecure (WFP 2006) and the region suffers from the highest prevalence of undernourishment in the country coupled with the lowest average energy consumption (NBS, EU, FAO 2010). With close to 50% of its population suffering from hunger, it is considered to be the most food deprived region in the country and has seen no reduction in depth of hunger since 2001 (Ibid). Deficiencies in energy and protein, and micronutrients such as minerals and vitamins, are high in Tanzania. Undernutrition is most prevalent in children under age 5 from the poorest and rural households, while vitamin A and micronutrient deficiency is most common among children and pregnant and lactating mothers. Findings from the study will inform and strengthen PCI’s ongoing nutrition programming in Tanzania and will also have broader implications for global food-aid policies.

United States Department of Agriculture

Click here to read PCI’s Tanzania fact sheet.