Tanzania- Addicted to Aid and seeking a new vision?

2011 marked the 50th year of Tanganyikan independence (becoming Tanzania in 1964). The  African Economic Outlook (AEO) for 2011 notes that Tanzania is the recipient of the highest levels development assistance in Africa.  At the same time, donors also hail Tanzania as a development success- it has had a number of years of  strong economic growth.  It has attracted foreign investment and opportunities for private enterprise are expanding.  The AEO report does note that some of the economic growth is also due to large inflows of aid and suggest that a budget deficit is also growing.

Aid has always played a significant role in Tanzania and Tanzania has danced successfully to the donors tune- during the Nyerere era, then market liberalisation, through to the preparation of Poverty Reduction Strategies (MKUKUTA) in the new millennium.

Mwalimu Nyrerere stated in the 1967 Arusha Declaration that:

It is stupid to rely on money as the major instrument of development when we know only too well that our country is poor. It is equally stupid, indeed it is even more stupid, for us to imagine that we shall rid ourselves of our poverty through foreign financial assistance rather than our own financial resources.

World Bank figures suggest that Tanzania received 46$ per person in ODA in 1990, falling to 31$ in 2000 and rising again to 55$ per person in 2009.  Dependence on aid to fund social programmes is growing not falling.

Where aid has changed social indicators:

Tanzania is highly likely to meet the MDG on Primary School Enrollment- debt cancellation and direct budget support led to a rapid expansion in primary school enrollment through abolition of fees and a programme of classroom building.  Yet education quality has been eroded and classrooms offer few useful skills.  A two tier system is increasing inequality with those who can pay putting their children into English language private schools and the rest left behind in classes of 100……..

The MDG on Infant mortality (but not maternal mortality) may also be achieved. Hans Rosling on the wonderful gap minder website hails Tanzania as reducing infant mortality faster than Sweden ever did but he does acknowledge that this is largely due to aid spending.

However income poverty has remained persistent- reducing in the urban areas but falling only marginally in the rural area (37.6% in 2007 from 38.7% in 2001) but due to population growth it is estimated that there are 1.3 million more individuals living in poverty in Tanzania than a decade ago.  The World Bank figures also suggest that 34% of the population is undernourished as compared to 28% in 1990.  Inflation in the consumer prices index stands at 19.8% and puts pressure on family spending.

So what is going wrong?  Why is poverty still so persistent?  I remember buying a book at the University of Dar-es-Salaam in 2004 (with contributions by a range of eminent Tanzanian intellectuals) which was titled: “Why is Tanzania still poor after 40 years of independence?”  In 2012 – this title still rings true only another decade has passed.  Aid is clearly not the answer and in fact is part of the problem but I will return to this another time.

Using the power of social media I asked students studying Masters Degrees as part of the Bradford-Mzumbe collaboration for their assessment of Tanzania@50 and received many interesting answers which I have tried to summarise:

Tanzania can be proud of being a peaceful country for the last 50 years but now there is a lack of leadership and vision.  Direct criticism of Kikwete see him as continuously engaged in foreign trips for the purposes of begging for more aid- this set of comments on his recent trip to Davos have been circulated far and wide on the internet. External aid and loans fund the lifestyles of the political and aid class- fueling spending on sitting allowances and luxurious cars.  Leaders, Civil Society Activists and Intellectuals have a duty to challenge this.

Inequality is growing- the rich can pay for services but the poor must make do with what is left behind.  Power shortages, unemployment and poor infrastructure are holding the country back.

Tanzania is rich in resources (land and minerals) yet the government has allowed foreign companies to rush in and take what they want and to enjoy long tax holidays and bribes.  Economic growth has been in aid, mining and tourism not in the sectors that would reduce poverty such as agriculture.

So what will we be saying in another 10 years?  Will a new vision for the future emerge?  A swell of criticism of the government in both the traditional and social media suggests a new generation gaining in voice and in a collective momentum to challenge the status quo…. will this be enough?


Rights are more than words on paper

A couple of weeks ago we released a briefing paper summarising some on-going research in Northern Tanzania on a small project working with groups of People Living with HIV/AIDS to claim their rights as defined by the 2008 Tanzanian HIV/AIDS Act.  We are now pleased to present the full working paper which you can download on the publications page.

The paper shows how a small NGO project could act as a catalyst in starting processes of change without creating dependency on aid and through working directly with existing state institutions.  Using a rights-based approach requires long-term commitment and HIV/AIDS magnifies inequality in both poverty and gender.  Reflecting on this research I am left with the conclusion that further work on rights is required but those rights are not just for those living with HIV/AIDS but broader rights and entitlements which fundamentally challenge gender inequality and poverty in Tanzania.  This is a challenge for a country such as Tanzania in which inequality and the numbers of people living in poverty is growing despite record economic growth.  I will be returning to this topic in my next post but in the meantime you might be interested in the latest African Economic Outlook report on Tanzania.

‘Copycats’? Exploring the implication of political and bureaucratic corruption pestilences in Sub-Saharan Africa

In the JEFCAS_Working_Paper_3,  the author explores the implication of entrenched political and bureaucratic corruption pestilences in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). The paper observes that corruption is not atypical of  SSA but it has reached an unprecedented level in the continent yet there is no solution in sight.

The central argument of this conversation is that political and bureaucratic corruption pestilences are ‘copycats’ which have been institutionalized and decentralized with a social functional value.

I derive four subsidiary controversial arguments to support the above claim, that:

  • although corruption in Africa covers diverse practices, political and bureaucratic corruption are more visible and entrenched in state institutions.
  • corruption is a balanced equation between demand and supply. Political and bureaucratic corruption in Africa is encouraged on the one hand by the complicity of actors from ‘outside’ the continent who demand the ‘loots’ from the continent and, on the other hand, by corrupt leaders who supply the market with the ‘highly demanded’ stolen wealth from the continent.
  • perpetrators of political and bureaucratic corruption view the practice as ‘legitimate’ and  not problematic.
  • at present, curbing political and bureaucratic corruption in SSA does not require any political solution; it calls for a new solution since the existing anti-corruption frameworks have failed to work. Perhaps the vice may be significantly reduced when it is ‘legalized’. I argue that legalizing corruption has the potential of making it reach a peak of ‘hurting stalemate’ thereby resulting in the loss of its utility. This, hopefully, will evoke all possible ‘genuine’ actions  and energy to reduce opportunities for economic rent on which corruption thrives.


Upcoming JEFCAS Seminars

‘The politics of regenerative nationalism in South Africa”

Presented by Dr Alex Beresford, Politics and International Studies, University of Leeds

Date: tbc                                          Location: Cr training room, Pemberton

‘Food Security + Fishing: Development Issues from Lake Victoria’

Presented by Judith Appleton, MBE

Judith Appleton MBE is a University of Bradford Associate who has worked for over 30 years in nutrition and food security for INGOs, bilateral agencies, the UN and the World Bank.

When: Wednesday, February 29th        Location: Cr training room, Pemberton

‘Children for Sale? Understanding Post-Conflict Child Trafficking’

Presented by Job Akuni, JEFCAS Research Assistant

Date: Tuesday, March 6th 2pm-3.30pm, Where: Cr training room, Pemberton

Religious Entrepreneurs in Africa-do they help development?

Since I first went to the village of Uchira in Tanzania in 1996 I was struck by the building of an enormous Catholic church on the roadside.  On that first visit it was just a foundation but by 2007 was a cathedral decorated with stained glass.  By that time I was married into a family from Uchira and my daughter was baptised in that church.   However, my response to this building was annoyance- why was this structure being built here amidst visible hunger and when the government medical dispensary was in such bad shape?  How much has it cost and where did this money come from?  The answer to this was a mixture of funds some from the UK and much from local contributions.  So why did people prefer to contribute to this project rather than to the completion of the local government health facility?

Now I know this is a controversial topic but this question continues to puzzle me.  Perhaps people also wondered this in Europe as the powerful religious bureaucracies built their Cathedrals hundreds of years ago.  This led me to think about all the ways in which religious organisations and religion play a role in reducing poverty or exclusion- either through the delivery of public services or in shaping the identity, behaviour and beliefs of individuals. The public services provided by religious organisations in Uchira charge a fee to their customers and so seem to be behaving as social enterprises.  Starting your own church or becoming a pastor also appears to be a good way to improve your own livelihood- we can see an extreme examples of this in Nigeria.

The second JEFCAS working paper explores the connections between religion and development using Uchira as an exploratory case study.  It is a paper written to ask more questions than it answers.