Minchinhampton Nkokoto Link - April 2017
As we enjoy the Cotswold spring weather and countryside, it is good to report that the rains in Nkokoto this year have been good. This is obviously good news for the villagers with their smallholdings and for farmers who have larger units of tobacco, rice or maize growing, and for the cattle herders.
Tanzania has undergone impressive political and economic developments and improvements in social welfare in recent years. However, Nkokoto and the country as a whole continue to face considerable development challenges, not least in essential areas such as economic distribution, population growth, fighting corruption, improving the quality and availability of education, health, electrification, water access and sanitation – all these are key to economic improvement and improving the lives of villagers such as those in Nkokoto. Economic growth and decades of massive international aid have created many good results in Tanzania (and the Link has played its small part) 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. Tanzania remains 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 £1.00 per day and almost 90% live on under £1.50 per day.
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, as in Nkokoto and Urambo, remains predominantly agricultural, with three quarters of the population living in rural areas. Eighty per cent 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. Although dropping, the birth rates remain high at 5.9 children per family, and over 55% of the population is under 19! Good news is that the Infant mortality rate had gone down from 140 to 40 per thousand births in the last fifty years.
Tanzania’s president, Dr John Magufuli, was elected in October 2015 and has already made his mark as a frugal leader committed to battling corruption and waste in the public sector and punishing poor performance in delivering public services. This was hailed by us all as a great step forward for Tanzania and we just hope that his positive approach to the country’s problems will continue.
So the Link works to do its best within an environment of great need. We will continue to support the school and its teachers and children, the clinic and the villagers in every way we can with our limited finances, helped by the income from the fantastic Murder Mystery Evenings last month, both evenings sold out, with a fantastic play and wonderful food. My thanks go to everyone who came to support the Link and especially to Gerry and his cast, and of course to the Link Committee and the catering team who all worked so hard to deliver two delightful evenings. Thank you to you all.
Two bits of news - Nkokoto School has a new Headteacher, whose name is Mr. Elia Ndabita. Joyce had been Headteacher at the school ever since I began work at Minchinhampton Primary School in 1996 (and probably for years before that!) so we wish her happiness in her retirement. One bit of sad news is that Stima’s wife, Zuhura, heard that her father died after an accident a few weeks ago. So obviously Stima and Zuhura had to go to deal with the funeral and all the family matters related to the death. However, he has texted me to tell me that he is now home again and dealing with the Link business.