Minchinhampton - Nkokoto Link - November 2018
Tanzania Today – some aspects of Tanzanian life
Children: In Tanzania, 50% of the population is under 18 years old. The children we met in Nkokoto, Vumilia and Urambo were delightful, but not all children in Tanzania have homes in villages such as these. Estimates are that there are at least 10,000 children living on the streets of the six largest cities alone, many experiencing physical and sexual abuse. Researchers suggest that for many children the situation at home may not be a lot better where there can be a high level of well-concealed domestic abuse, which is the main reason why many children run away from home in the first place. Runaway children frequently get into trouble with the law. The police aren’t particularly well-trained to deal with these children (in fact, many questions have been asked recently about the way Tanzanian police’s authority is misused) and the child protection legislation, good in theory, is not regularly enforced due to a lack of resources. I have to say that on my visits to Nkokoto, I saw no evidence of domestic abuse at all (but then, if it was occurring, it would be hidden from me of course.)
Teenage pregnancies: Although many commentators and people in Tanzania argue against it, the Government has taken a very harsh approach to teenage schoolgirls who become pregnant by routinely expelling them from their schools and even punishing their families. But this punitive approach isn’t working – teenage pregnancies are increasing and are higher than 20 years ago. Why is this and why do some girls become involved in risky relationships? There are many reasons and no one simple answer. Some girls are raped, but others cannot be simply put down to “bad behaviour” or “exploitation.” Social attitudes about respect, deference, poverty, repressive norms about women’s sexuality, a woman’s role and “goodness,” make it often difficult for girls to assert themselves in relationships. Using contraceptives and even talking about sex is seen as “bad behaviour.”
Progress in agriculture : It is interesting to see that GDP growth in Tanzania has been, on average since 2000, an impressive 7%, although recently it has dropped to 3.5%. Tanzania is proving that it is becoming more able to supply its own population. Whilst cotton and coffee, two of the country’s traditional commodity crops, have fared poorly, mainly because of the uneven distribution of rainfall, cashews and tobacco has been relatively successful overall, (but not necessarily in Nkokoto.) The greatest returns to farmers have been in maize, rice, potatoes and sweet potatoes, being sold both to urban areas as well as for export in some cases. More and more land is being brought into use for farming, often by urban investors. One negative aspect of the Tanzanian farming scene is the lack of success with irrigation projects and failures in livestock farming. Training programmes on crop diversification, tillage techniques and enhancing soil condition and fertility have received limited success. Interestingly, many of these improvement programmes are aimed at women (who do a considerable amount of work in the fields) by using teaching programmes on the radio, or by mobile phone.
Travel : The Tanzanian Government is upgrading to standard gauge and electrifying the narrow gauge railway line that runs from Dar es Salaam to Tabora and on to Kigoma and Mwanza. The Kigoma line trains stop at Urambo, but the rail journey at the moment takes 24 hours. Perhaps when completed, I will be able to travel from Dar to Urambo by train instead of by bus or plane?! That will be a real treat!
And on a lighter note………………
The Uluguru Grasshopper : The Uluguru Mountain Range Reserve near Morogoro in eastern Tanzania has become a tourist attraction due to the Uluguru Grasshopper! The grasshopper is the colour of the Tanzanian nationa lflag and has become nicknamed “December Ninth” (the date of the country’s independence from colonial rule in 1961.) Uluguru has a unique flora and fauna and chameleons, flying frogs and many breeds of beautiful songbirds.
Rod Harris, Chairman