By: Macy Janine Pamaranglas – Art in Tanzania Intern
According to the Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO), food insecurity refers to the “lack [of] regular access to enough safe and nutritious food for normal growth and development and an active and healthy life”. There are several causes to food insecurity including poverty, unemployment, or low income (lack of resources to obtain food); it could also be due to the unavailability of food. FAO monitors levels of food insecurity by referring to the Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES).
Tanzania is a country where socio-economic development has grown steadily, but there remains a sector of the population that is marginalized. Unfortunately, inequality is continuously widening the gap between locals and refugees; however, inequality is also applied even among Tanzanians themselves.
The Problem in Tanzania
Based on the report published by the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC), “nearly 1 million people are food insecure” in Tanzania. Limited food availability is mainly due to climate change (dry spells and irregular rainfalls), and such a natural disaster significantly reduced “casual labor opportunities for post-harvest on and off farm activities”. Therefore, Tanzania is struggling to provide sufficient food to its population. Moreover, the refugee population is affected by this insecurity as they have limited access to basic needs. According to the World Food Programme (WFP), Tanzania’s “chronic malnutrition rates are above the African average”. 32% of children under 5 years old are suffering from extreme malnutrition, and the number of anemic women and children are also increasing. With the expected incline in birth rates by 2050, the aggravating climate change, and the vulnerability of agriculture to the latter, food insecurity is inevitable.
Linda Simon, a Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Fellow, initiated an organization called, Education Village, “to support rural schools in Tanzania to improve their food systems”. Simon believes that inequality is perpetuated in the schools’ food systems as she compared children’s accessibility to food in Dar es Salaam and in private schools versus schools located in Northern Tanzania. Every child has the right to education, but this right cannot be attained if children do not have food to survive.
To illustrate the food pattern consumption of Tanzanians, FAO described their diet “based on cereals (maize and sorghum), starchy roots (cassava), and pulses (mainly beans).” Whereas, animal products, fruits, and vegetables are of low food consumption. Tanzanians are not able to fulfill their average energy requirements. Consequently, they suffer from various illnesses such as Vitamin A deficiency, anemia, and iron deficiency.
Possible Solutions and Current Efforts
To tackle the issue of food insecurity in Tanzania, several international organizations have been contributing in the improvement of the country’s food system. Tanzania is a state with great potential in terms of its “strong natural supply chain route” for the region. WFP has been investing in the amelioration of the supply chain performance “by providing capacity support to the Tanzania Railways Corporation and the Lake Victoria Corridor”. Additionally, WFP sent an estimate of 200,000 metric tons of food across Tanzania; this helped the country by introducing 43 million dollars to the economy. As for USAID Tanzania and Africa Lead, they Education Village “to develop an action plan in to strengthen the organization and improve school-based food systems in Northern Tanzania”. Successfully, Education Village is implementing a business plan “to generate income from sales of drip irrigation systems” for small-scale farmers and Northern Tanzanian schools. Lastly, FAO has several recommendations to limit the aggravation of food insecurity in Tanzania. FAO believes in “promoting and strengthening livelihood programmes”, “improving water projects and promoting rainwater-harvesting techniques at household level”, “encouraging horticultural cultivation” and many more.
Food insecurity is a serious issue that needs to be limited not only in Tanzania but in the world as well. Large numbers of people are dying due to insufficient food consumption, and this is a violation of Article 11 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The latter declares, “The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate food, clothing and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living conditions.” Thus, it is pivotal States and international organizations to work together to attain SDG2 No Hunger.
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