We are sometimes asked ‘why Tanzania? – there are other needy countries’. That’s true. But Tanzania is still an example to the world of a country at peace with itself and its neighbours, and one that has largely overcome tribal and religious tensions.
You can’t and we can’t solve all the world’s problems, but at the village level at which we work, people are mostly very trustworthy and together we can achieve lasting, life changing projects with our donors’ money. It’s also where we have true expertise because we have been working in Tanzania for 40 years.
Tanzania is a huge country. You can fit all of France, Belgium, Holland, Denmark, the UK and Ireland into it. The largest urban area is Dar es Salaam on the coast; Dodoma, the capital, is a rapidly growing city nearer to the geographical centre of the country. Most people (76%) live rurally. It’s a huge task for the government to bring clean water, healthcare, education and job opportunities to scattered villages far from any tarred road.
And the population profile brings fresh challenges: 61% of Tanzanians are under 24, whereas in Britain it’s 30%. Life expectancy has risen to 61 years, compared with about 81 in the UK. Two of the biggest problems are access to clean water and hygienic toilets. Less than half of rural Tanzanians have reasonable access to an improved water source, and only 8% have improved sanitation.
Urban Tanzanians and those in the best farming areas or where there is income from tourism or mining are getting more prosperous. Dar es Salaam, the commercial capital, generates more income than the rest of the country put together!
We’ve chosen to work only in the poorest areas, where many families live on less £1 a day. In each region we have a Local Representative, who helps us choose and monitor excellent projects.
We don’t attempt the big projects of the large organisations such as Oxfam. With our unique way of working, where each project is supported by a team of a local Tanzanian Representative and a UK-based Project Officer, we really know our projects and who the beneficiaries are.
In Shinyanga, for example, we have funded a training centre for women living in poverty, some with HIV. Our Local Representative, William, could take you there and introduce you to all the women who are learning the skills that will give a big boost to their family incomes. It’s a really personal way of working, which means we can really see the impact on individual lives.