Climate Change and Human Rights in Africa

By: Macy Janine Pamaranglas – Art in Tanzania Intern


Climate change has always been a topic of concern mainly because lack of climate action can not only lead to environmental damages, but it can also to human rights violations. According to the 2022 Ibrahim Forum Report, food insecurity has affected 800 million people in the African continent, and 281.6 million individuals are undernourished. Hence, it is of great importance to prioritize climate mitigation and adaptation to be able to protect basic human rights. (source)

Although Africa is not part of the biggest contributors of greenhouse gas emissions (with emissions of roughly 4%), it is the most affected by climate change; “the rate of Africa’s warming is 1.5 times faster than the global warming average”. This makes the continent vulnerable to erratic rainfall, extreme drought, desertification, and frequent flooding. As a result of unfortunate occurrences, problems such as human displacement, food insecurity, and spread of illnesses become inevitable.

Case Studies

Geographically speaking, Zimbabwe is a country that has “limited water resources”. With the aggravating climate issue, the country becomes severely impacted by water scarcity. Thus, locals have the tendency to resort to untreated or unsafe water resources. Drinking unpotable water is a health risk since it can result to various diseases such as hepatitis E, cholera, diarrhea and parasitic diseases. In fact, between 2008 and 2009, there was a mass cholera outbreak, and the latter exacerbated with the simultaneous drought and inconsistent weather patterns.

UN (source)

Consequently, people migrate to escape the worsening situation in the country. Migration brings about several other predicaments to the locals. For instance, there is no assurance in terms of food, water, and shelter. Education is interrupted with the constant fleeing, and socio-economic problems such as sexual abuse, violence, and discrimination become pertinent. Indeed, climate change has devastating effects on human rights as one violation leads to another; it works as a domino-effect.  

In the Sahel region, fishing and agriculture are the main sources of living. With climate change, people’s sources of living are significantly impacted. As a matter of fact, studies have predicted that Mali’s agriculture capacity may decline by 30 to 40 percent. Whereas, in Senegal, fishing stocks may decrease by 80 percent.

Additionally, it is fundamental to note that, the level of vulnerability increases with existing political-economic tensions. For instance, Niger and South Sudan are suffering from ongoing problems with regards to the Boko Haram and civil war respectively. Therefore, these people carry so much burden that enjoying their basic human rights becomes far-fetched.


Several efforts have been executed to limit the devastating impact of climate change and one of them is the #GreenJusticeAfrica initiative. The latter is a campaign that “focuses on the impact of climate change in Africa, through the lens of the existing degeneration of the fulfilment of the human rights of the most vulnerable.” In addition, the infamous Paris Agreement, tackled climate change “as an urgent and serious threat to humankind”. It sets up a universal rule that all countries that signed this agreement by limiting global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius. (source)


In conclusion, climate action should be prioritized both on the public and private sphere, and it is important to do so because not only does it negatively impact the environment as a whole, but rather it affects our human rights. It is not merely about the protection of the present generation, but also about the preservation of the future generations. Let us save our Mother Earth before it’s too late!


Addaney, M., Boshoff, E., & Olutola, B. (2017). THE CLIMATE CHANGE AND HUMAN RIGHTS NEXUS IN AFRICA. Amsterdam Law Forum. Retrieved December 8, 2022, from

Khumalo, S. (n.d.). #greenjusticeafrica: The impact of climate change on the protection and fulfilment of human rights in Africa. Home – Centre for Human Rights. Retrieved December 8, 2022, from

Nonjinge, G. (2022, November 2). Climate change adaptation in Africa: A human rights perspective. PreventionWeb. Retrieved December 8, 2022, from

Report: How climate change affects the human rights of sahel region migrants. OHCHR. (2021, November 11). Retrieved December 8, 2022, from

Black Lives Matter and Africa’s Point of View

By: Macy Janine Pamaranglas – Art in Tanzania Intern

With the death of George Floyd in 2020, countless number of people were enraged with the cause of his demise. White police officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeled on his neck while Floyd was screaming for his life. Thus, the phrase “I can’t breathe” became an iconic one. As a result, the Black Lives Matter (BLM) Movement rose into existence “to bring justice, healing, and freedom to Black people across the globe”. The BLM Movement was of great importance, and it motivated people in Africa to shed light on the police brutalities that occurred in their own countries.

Encyclopedia Britannica (source)

In Kenya, the police killed 22 individuals in the midst of enforcing COVID-19 restrictions. Additionally, a Kenyan trader was killed by the police since the latter accused the former of selling fake sanitizers. In response, inhabitants of a small town in western Kenya burned down a police station. Whereas, in South Africa, a similar scenario took place where at least 10 people died due to the police’s implementation of COVID-19 regulations.

Having the BLM Movement becoming relevant and pertinent in today’s time, people from the African continent finally have the opportunity to publicize their frustrations about the violent incidents executed by police forces. For instance, in Nigeria, a group of locals organized demonstrations, and they described themselves as the, “Black Lives Matter in Nigeria (BLMMN)”. The latter was found protesting in the Abuja and Lagos where the Embassy of the United States and the Consulate of the United States are located respectively. BLMMN was particularly vocal about bringing justice not only for George Floyd, but they were also calling justice for several other black people who were victims of police brutality. These victims include the following: Alex Ogbu, a journalist who was killed by the police as he was reporting the Shiite Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN)’s protest; Tina Ezekwe, a 16-year old high school student who was shot by the police; as well as Vera Uwaila and Barakat Bello who fell victims of sexual violence and femicide.

ROAPE (source)

Furthermore, protests and resistance to systemic racism were not just in the form of demonstrating in the streets. A literary community, composed of African writers, “signed a statement demanding that American legal institutions address police violence”. Additionally, the African Union Commission criticized the malicious crimes conducted by the police. It is essential to understand that the issue of racism means a lot to Africans in the continent. Africans are prone to discrimination wherever they go. Such dilemma all started with the colonizing powers as the latter imposed racism and xenophobia in educational and cultural systems.

National History of African American History and Culture (source)

Yet, in spite of the motivation to revolutionize against such a tyrannical system, eliminating police brutality remains farfetched because the police are the product of “institutional underdevelopment”. Police are “often poorly trained and paid; many resort to petty corruption simply to feed their families.”

In conclusion, fighting for the lives of the Black people is pivotal for they are human being with fundamental human rights. Let us not marginalize and leave them behind since UDHR Article 2 states that “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.”


Black lives matter – views from Africa – ROAPE. Review of African Political Economy. (2020, June 18). Retrieved November 30, 2022, from

Campbell, J. (2020, July 8). Black lives matter protests in Africa Shine a light on local police brutality. Council on Foreign Relations. Retrieved November 30, 2022, from

Kagumire, R. (2020, June 29). Black lives matter resonates with Africans pushing for decolonisation. Global Reporting Centre. Retrieved November 30, 2022, from

United Nations. (n.d.). Universal declaration of human rights. United Nations. Retrieved November 30, 2022, from

Food Insecurity in Tanzania: A Challenge That Still Remains

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).

FAO (source)

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. (source)

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.

PreventionWeb (source)

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.

WFP (source)


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.



Hunger. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. (n.d.). Retrieved November 19, 2022, from

Tanzania: Acute food insecurity situation overview – rural, urban and IDP: Current Food Security Outcomes: November 2019 – April 2020 (issued in February 2020) – united republic of Tanzania. ReliefWeb. (2020, February 18). Retrieved November 19, 2022, from

Tanzania: World Food Programme. UN World Food Programme. (n.d.). Retrieved November 19, 2022, from

United Nations. (n.d.). Universal declaration of human rights. United Nations. Retrieved November 19, 2022, from,guarantees%20necessary%20for%20his%20defence.

YouTube. (2019, August 2). Education village tackles food insecurity and poor nutrition in northern Tanzania’s rural schools. YouTube. Retrieved November 19, 2022, from

Corporate Social Responsibility: The Case of Barrick Gold Mine

By: Macy Janine Pamaranglas – Art in Tanzania Intern

What is Corporate Social Responsibility?

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a business model which involves accountability in terms of the process and impact the company has on the society; it could be social, economic, and environmental. When a company adopts the CSR model, it has the ultimate responsibility to ensure that it does not negatively affect the society; this includes protecting and promoting human rights.

Here is an example to better understand this notion. Starbucks wanted to guarantee the diversity and inclusivity of its workforce. Hence, the company aimed “to hire 25,000 US military veterans and spouses by 2025”. Additionally, it even announced a mentorship program to connect other marginalized members of the community such as people of color and indigenous people, to senior business leaders.

Forbes (source)

CSR & Barrick Gold Mine

Barrick is a mining company which identifies itself as a “sector-leading gold and copper producer” in 18 countries around the world. Its mission is “to be the world’s most valued gold and copper mining business by finding, developing, and owning the best assets…” In efforts of attaining so, Barrick determines several core values, and some of the notable ones are “zero harm workplace” and “responsible and accountable”. Moreover, the company commits itself in protecting human rights by meeting the expectations stated in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (VPs), and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.

Barrick Gold Corporation (source)

Yet, in spite of Barrick’s priority for human rights protection, the company faced serious human rights complaints. Ever since Barrick was authorized to conduct operational control at North Mara in Tanzania, police and security forces used excessive force. Unfortunately, it led to the death of at least 4 local residents and the assault of 7 other individuals. RAID, an NGO which works on holding businesses accountable in terms of standing up for human rights, found out that assigned police forces constantly entered residential areas during mine-related operations. They would forcibly enter homes warrantless, arbitrarily arrest and abuse locals, throw teargas, and shoot live ammunition haphazardly.

The Toronto Star (source)

Most recently, 10 Tanzanians joined forces to file a lawsuit at the UK High Court against the mining company, which was formerly known as Acacia Mining. In fact, the company has had few drawbacks in terms of its history and reputation. For instance, Barrick’s current CEO, Mark Bristow, said “The historic problem of Barrick in Tanzania was that no one embraced the communities [around the mine]”. Bristow added that it was “an irresponsibly-run business”.

This year, Barrick officially put out its 2021 Sustainability Report, and the latter mentioned how the company has done “significant reductions” with regards to its security forces at the North Mara mine. It also declared its efforts in “diligently… restoring and rebuilding the relationship with the local community”. However, local residents have stated otherwise; they told RAID that they have not observed any significant improvements in regards to security forces. Moreover, Barrick denied the allegations, and it argued saying that the Tanzanian police forces are of the State’s responsibility and not the company’s.

RAID (source)


Barrick should execute efforts in promoting and protecting human rights. Many local workers endanger their lives for the sake of making a living; hence, as an affluent company, it should invest in the safety and security of its workers by all means. The people are their greatest assets, so it is pivotal for the company to minimize hazards.


About Barrick. Barrick Gold Corporation – About Barrick. (n.d.). Retrieved November 9, 2022, from

African Barrick Gold Lawsuit (re tanzania). Business & Human Rights Resource Centre. (n.d.). Retrieved November 9, 2022, from

Digital Marketing Institute. (2022, September 1). 16 brands doing Corporate Social Responsibility successfully. Digital Marketing Institute. Retrieved November 9, 2022, from

Human Rights. Barrick Gold Corporation – Sustainability – Human Rights. (n.d.). Retrieved November 9, 2022, from

Investors in Barrick Gold should act to halt violence at Tanzania mine. RAID. (2022, April 27). Retrieved November 9, 2022, from

Van Woudenberg, A. (2021, December 15). Will barrick gold CEO go beyond rhetoric to deliver justice for victims of police killings at Tanzanian mine? Retrieved November 9, 2022, from

Whitehouse, D. (2022, March 29). Barrick: LBMA to consider raid allegations over Tanzania Gold-mine deaths. The Africa Report. Retrieved November 9, 2022, from

Media Repression in Tanzania

By: Macy Janine Pamaranglas – Art in Tanzania Intern

In celebration of International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists last November 2, it is vital to encourage States to protect media personnel and “to promote a safe and enabling environment for [them] to perform their work independently and without undue interference”. Journalists are essential to our societies because they motivate freedom of expression and access to information for all citizens.

The Council of Europe (source)

Freedom of expression refers to one’s ability to express their thoughts, opinions, ideas, emotions, and beliefs about various issues without the fear of being criminalized by the government. In fact, freedom of expression is a right which should be protected. For instance, the First Amendment of the US’ Constitution clearly states that individuals have the right to “freedom of religion, speech, press, petition, and assembly”; these freedoms fall under the category of freedom of expression.

Yet, this freedom still remains farfetched in many countries worldwide. Tanzania is a country where this right is not completely exercised. According to Freedom House, “independent journalists and media outlets are subject to harsh repression in Tanzania”. Additionally, the country’s 2016 Media Services Act gives the government the power to control media content as well as the ability to grant licenses of media outlets and journalists.

Human Rights Watch (source)

Press freedom in the country has been decadent particularly under the ruling of former President Magufuli. The latter was nicknamed as “the bulldozer” as he was seen to be an “aggressive” leader. He showed extreme intolerance to political, economic, social, and cultural opposition. Thus, Magufuli’s administration does not consider human rights a top priority. The newspaper, Mawio, was banned after publishing an article related to “Tanzania’s mining industry and attaching pictures of two former presidents to the story”. Consequently, Mawio was banned for 2 years since the newspaper was breaching “national security and public safety”. Moreover, the Tanzanian Communication Regulatory Authority imposed legal sanctions on “three online TV channels” due to their critical content on President Magufuli. (source)

With Magufuli’s rising intolerance to resistance, a legislation was passed to enable the Tanzanian government “to de-register parties and impose harsh sentences of up to a year for those engaged in ‘unauthorized civic education’”. Indeed, the State has a very high control of media ownership, which degrades democracy and sustainable development.

However, the mere suspension of media outlets is not the most alarming situation; the lives of Tanzanian journalists are also at stake. There are various cases where media workers are detained, arbitrarily attacked, and even killed. For example, two journalists were attacked by policemen. Journalist Sitta Tuma was beaten after taking pictures at a political demonstration. Whereas, Sillas Mbise was attacked at a football game.

Therefore, in order to avoid any form of impunity, several journalists and other critics end up adopting self-censorship. Simply put, critical topics are sugarcoated to pass the government’s standards of “ideal” content. Some see this strategy as something that defeats the purpose of press freedom. Some are satisfied as it is a way to deliver information to the people while simultaneously behaving under the government’s rules.

Global Voices (source)

Unfortunately, with the limited freedom of expression, growing self-censorship, and continuous suspension of authentic media outlets, not only does it foster an atmosphere of fear and tension, but it also hinders the exercise of multiple human rights such as children’s rights, women’s rights, LGBT rights etc. Human Rights Watch’s report states that “the media are not covering the activities of these groups of the restrictions placed on them, for fear of government reprisals”.

In conclusion, the Tanzanian government should fully respect freedom of expression and association which includes individuals who are part of the media industry, civil society organizations as well as political opposition. This obligation is in reference to the country’s constitution, international, and regional treaties and conventions.


“As long as I am quiet, I am safe”. Human Rights Watch. (2019, October 28). Retrieved November 3, 2022, from

K_port. (2019, December 10). Media Freedom Crisis in Tanzania. Public Media Alliance. Retrieved November 3, 2022, from

Pekkonen, S. (2022, February 24). Tanzania Press Freedom plunges into unprecedented crisis. International Press Institute. Retrieved November 3, 2022, from

Repression and media censorship in Tanzania under president Magufuli. V. (n.d.). Retrieved November 3, 2022, from

Tanzania: Freedom in the world 2022 country report. Freedom House. (n.d.). Retrieved November 3, 2022, from

United Nations. (n.d.). International Day to end impunity for crimes against journalists. United Nations. Retrieved November 3, 2022, from

What is freedom of expression? Freedom Forum Institute. (n.d.). Retrieved November 3, 2022, from

FGM in Tanzania: A Violation of Women and Girls’ Rights

By: Macy Janine Pamaranglas – Art in Tanzania Intern

What is FGM?

Female genital mutilation (FGM) refers to a procedure of removing a female’s external genitalia either partially or completely; it can also be any other form of injury to the female’s genitals. However, studies have shown that FGM has no particular health benefits. Instead, FGM is performed mainly due to tradition, rite of passage, and preparation for marriage.

It has been proven that FGM can lead to “severe bleeding”, problems with urination, “later cysts”, “infections”, and “complications in childbirth and increased risk of newborn deaths”. Hence, the World Health Organization (WHO) is an advocate of anti-FGM because this practice is not only extremely harmful for the health of women and girls, but it is also an international human rights violation.

In fact, more than 200 million women and girls have undergone FGM, and they are from countries in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. Tanzania is no exception to such a hostile procedure. (source)

FGM in Tanzania

According to UNICEF, there are approximately 7.9 million Tanzanian women and girls who have had their genitalia mutilated. FGM is significantly observed (20% to 70%) in the regions of Arusha, Dodoma, Kilimanjaro, Manyara, Mara and Singida. In Tanzania, FGM is considered a religious and traditional norm rather than a medical practice. But, there was an emergence of an illness called, lawalawa. The latter is said to be a “curse from the ancestors”, and FGM was the “only way” to heal from such a curse. With scientific and medical innovation, this so-called “disease” is simply an “easily treatable vaginal or urinary tract infection”. Yet, ethnic groups such as the Nyaturu ethnic group, Gogo and Maasai ethnic groups continue to perform FGM even in secrecy.

28 Too Many (source)

In 1998, Tanzania officially declared FGM as an illegal act by enacting the Sexual Offences (Special Provision) Act 1998. This act aims to “protect the dignity and integrity of women in matters pertaining to rape, defilement, sordomy, sexual harassment, incest, female genital mutilation, child abuse and child trafficking.” The Tanzanian Government also adopted a “National Plan of Action to end Violence against Women and Children” to terminate all forms of violence against women and girls. Despite the laws adopted to end FGM, a tradition that has been passed down from generation to generation cannot be halted immediately. For instance, ethnic leaders pretend to stop executing FGM on young girls, but they organize “alternative rite of passage festivals” as a disguise to perform FGM.

Furthermore, there are cases where FGM is “medicalized” by involving health care providers. This way, it is seen to be “safer”. However, the WHO is against the “medicalization” of FGM since health care providers themselves are “members of FGM-practicing communities and are subject to the same social norms”.

Unfortunately, eliminating FGM is challenging since politicians often support this practice or remain silent in order to win electoral votes among particular ethnic groups (i.e. Maasai group).

Efforts and Recommendations to end FGM

Former Miss Tanzania, Diana Lukumai, founded a non-governmental organization called, Cut Alert Foundation, in which she aims to have Tanzanian communities invest in educating young girls instead of making them marriageable.

DW The 77 Percent (source)

Human rights activist, Rhobi Samwelly, manages two safe houses for girls who suffer from FGM, gender-based violence, child marriages, and rape. Moreover, a humanitarian mapping, Crowd2Map, is being developed to protect children at risk as well as to promote community development. In spite of the technological advancement, rural Tanzanian areas remain poorly mapped. So, in collaboration between international and local volunteers, Crowd2Map has added schools, hospitals, roads, buildings, and villages. Eventually, human rights activists like Samwelly can find the villages where girls are at risk of FGM. (source)

The WHO reinforces its efforts to end FGM by “strengthening the health sector response” (i.e. development and implementation of tools to ensure that girls are being provided with medical care), “building evidence” (i.e. being informed about the causes and effects of FGM), and “increasing advocacy” (i.e. generating publications to raise awareness internationally and locally about the hostility of FGM).


FGM is a non-medical practice which needs to be eradicated since it harms the physical and psychological health of women and girls, and it is also a violation international human rights. Young girls should not be forced to undergo such a procedure by any person, even if it is their family members. Again, FGM can potentially lead to long-term problems such as increasing rates of child marriage, and it can even be a financial burden to countries since the treatment of FGM complications is very costly (a total of 1.4 billion dollars in 2018).


Crowd2Map. Tanzania Development Trust. (2022, January 21). Retrieved October 24, 2022, from

Mugumu Safe House for girls. Tanzania Development Trust. (2022, March 2). Retrieved October 24, 2022, from

OHCHR. (n.d.). United Nations Study on Violence against Children Response to questionnaire received from the Government of the United Republic of TANZANIA . Retrieved October 24, 2022, from

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. (2013). Country profile: FGM in Tanzania. Refworld. Retrieved October 24, 2022, from

World Health Organization. (2022, January 21). Female genital mutilation. World Health Organization. Retrieved October 24, 2022, from,benefits%20for%20girls%20and%20women.

World Health Organization. (n.d.). Rooting out female genital mutilation in Tanzania. World Health Organization. Retrieved October 24, 2022, from,female%20genital%20mutilation%2C%20by%202030. YouTube. (2020, October 12). Former Beauty Queen fights FGM in Tanzania. YouTube. Retrieved October 24, 2022, from

Human Rights in Africa: A General Overview

By: Macy Janine Pamaranglas – Art in Tanzania Intern


The African Charter on Human and People’s Rights came into force on the 21st of October, 1986. It established a solid foundation and standards to promote and protect Africans’ human rights.

According to Article 2 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, “Every individual shall be entitled to the enjoyment of the rights and freedoms recognized and guaranteed in the present Charter without distinction of any kind such as race, ethnic group, color, sex, language, religion, political or any other opinion, national and social origin, fortune, birth or any status.”

African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (source)

Despite the efforts to improve the lives of the African people, the continent still suffers from increasing human rights violations. These human rights abuses include violating socio-economic and cultural rights, illicit killings, discrimination and harassment, suppression of dissent, environmental deterioration etc. Unfortunately, with the COVID-19 pandemic, Africa’s human rights situation worsened; thus, many people were obliged to halt their education and even forcibly lose their homes.

Here are some of the numerous human rights violations which have been occurring across the region:

Restriction of Expression:

Tiseke Kasambala, Chief of Party of Advancing Rights in Southern Africa Program at Freedom House, says that some African countries have been introducing cybercrime and cybersecurity laws; these aim “to prevent the type of organizing and mobilization of social movements, and civil society organizations on the ground”. Kasambala adds that it is not merely shutting down the internet, but it also involves preventing people from discussing and criticizing the State in the online space. Such shutdowns can be observed in southern African nations such as Lesotho. These cybercrime and cybersecurity laws were also under discussion in Malawi and Zimbabwe.

TechCabal (source)

In addition, internet disruptions occurred in countries like Eswatini, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, South Sudan, Sudan, Uganda, and Zambia. As a matter of fact, on June 2021, the Nigerian government suspended Twitter after the latter “deleted a controversial tweet from President Buhari for violating its community rule”. On September 2021, the Tanzanian Ministry of Information, Culture, Arts and Sports suspended the operations of a privately owned media outlet called Raia Mwema, for a month. The Tanzanian government justified such action since Raia Mwema was constantly “publishing false information and deliberate incitement”.

Gender-Based Violence and Discrimination

Females still struggle to fulfil their rights as Africa remains subordinate to women and girls. Hence, issues such as child marriage, restricted access to sexual and reproductive health services, and discrimination against pregnant students are prominent in the region.

In South Africa, there was a significant increase in crime rates related to sexual offences, and there were at least “117 cases of femicide in the first half of the year”. For instance, a 23-year old female law student named Nosicelo Mtebeni, was killed, mutilated, and placed in a suitcase and in plastic bags by her partner. In Chad, a 15-year old girl was gang raped, and the cruel act was recorded and posted on social media.

The Conversation (source)

Furthermore, child marriage remains rampant in Africa. For example, a 4-year-old Namibian child was forced to marry a 25-year-old man when she was 2 years old. In Tanzania, pregnant girls were banned from attending school, and these girls were forced by the government to participate in a “parallel accelerated education program”, which is known to be an “alternative education pathway”. The problem with the latter is its inaccessibility in terms of distance and cost. Fortunately, the Tanzanian Ministry of Education officially declared on November 24, 2021, that adolescent mothers are now allowed to attend public schools.  

Abductions, Torture, and Evictions

The lives of human rights activists are prone to abduction, torture, and eviction in Africa. In the case of Zimbabwe, the government fails to hold security forces accountable for their serious human rights abuses, particularly during the “August 2018 post-election violence” and the “killings and molestations during the January 2019 protests”. In Rwanda, a YouTuber named, Yvonne Idamange, was sentenced a 15-year imprisonment as he condemned the State’s policies.

The New York Times (source)

Jon Temin, Director of the Africa Program at Freedom House, mentions their organization’s research on NGO legislation in Africa. Their studies have shown that over the last 15 years, 12 Sub-Saharan African nations “have adopted various versions of repressive NGO legislation”, and such legislation aims to limit NGOs’ ability to register and receive funding. For instance, in Togo, granting and renewing NGO licenses are suspended.

Violation of Refugee Rights

Refugees carry a great burden since not only are they forced to flee their lands, but they are also victims of threats, harassment, and arrests. Tanzania is one of the most important hosting countries for refugees. As of January 1, 2022, it has 246, 780 refugees who are originally from Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo. According to Human Rights Watch, Burundian refugees were being maltreated by Tanzanian security forces. Moreover, the latter forcibly returned Mozambican refugees to their conflict-ridden northern part of the country. Therefore, the UNHCR raised this concern by stating that Tanzania violated “the principle of non-refoulement under international standards and regional refugee law.”

The United Nations (source)

In South Africa, refugees were being discriminated particularly in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Refugees were not provided with COVID-19 aid programs such as food packages during lockdowns.


Despite Africa’s commitment to promote and protect human rights, there still remain flaws in the government’s response. States should respect media freedom and freedom of expression, for they are human rights. Governments should allow human rights activists to speak for their fellow citizens since criticism is the start of positive change.

African governments must prioritize the well-being of women and children. Females should have equal rights to men regarding education, health, jobs etc. Additionally, victims of malicious gender-based crimes should be protected and given remedies to recover. Whereas perpetrators of the crime should be held responsible for their abusive actions.

Lastly, refugees should not be mistreated; instead, they have the right to be protected and taken care of, considering the unfortunate evacuations they need to execute.

In short, according to Article 4 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, “Human beings are inviolable. Every human being shall be entitled to respect for his life and the integrity of his person. No one may be arbitrarily deprived of this right.”


Africa Regional Overview Archives. Amnesty International. (n.d.). Retrieved October 12, 2022, from

African Commission on human and peoples’ rights. African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights Legalinstruments. (1981, June 27). Retrieved October 12, 2022, from

Brookings Institution. (2019, November 21). The state of human rights in Africa. YouTube. Retrieved October 12, 2022, from

Operational Data Portal. Country – Tanzania (United Republic of). (n.d.). Retrieved October 12, 2022, from

World Report 2022: Rights trends in Tanzania. Human Rights Watch. (2022, January 17). Retrieved October 12, 2022, from,province%20during%202020%20and%202021

Zenda, C. (n.d.). Human rights violations soar across Africa, report finds. FairPlanet. Retrieved October 12, 2022, from

The Creative Activist

By Saruni Martin- Art in Tanzania internship

Martin Saning’o

Weeks had gone by, my national exams were nigh, since Mr. Martin Saning’o had passed away from COVID-19, I had a dream. In the dream, Mr. Martin said to me, in Swahili, with rough translation to English as, “Dare to dream big, never give up and always have a spirit big enough to achieve your dreams. Never give up my son and remember I love you!”. I woke up emotional that day but I also had a thought. He has done great works that most don’t know of. I wouldn’t want his works to go unnoticed – I would want people to know of the works that he did and the benefits he has brought to the Maasai community in Terrat, Simanjiro. This is his story.


Martin was born in the early 1960’s in the Simanjiro district of northern Tanzania. This is in the Maasai heatland – the high arid plains south of Arusha. In common with many Maasai of his generation, Martin and his family cannot be sure exactly when he was born. But Martin believed it to be in 1960 or 1961.

Martin was one among the minute number of Maasai children to have received education at the time. He used his education well. He wanted to give back to society that brought him up, so in the early 1990’s he founded IOPA – Institute for Orkonerei Pastoralists Advancement. Although IOPA’s first priority was to deal with land rights, it also eyed health problems and water supply problems that the Maasai at Terrat faced.

Martin became an activist, and made critical moves to ensure that the Maasai aren’t displaced from their traditional lands – The government had been displacing the Maasai at the time from areas they claimed to be ‘National Park areas’. His moves were seen to be ‘too critical’ to some in high places, and as a result the government initially refused to register IOPA.

As impossible as it may seem, Martin sued the government for displacing the Maasai from their traditional lands. At the time, more than 6000 Maasai had already been displaced by the government form National Parks. IOPA, led by Mr. Martin, filed a number of cases against the government which later on resulted in a landmark ruling by the High Court in IOPA’s favour.

Martin recognized that education was the key to enlighten the Maasai on a number of things: land rights, their own health, their livestock, the ongoing changes in the outside world, and a number of other things. He figured that a community radio would effectively serve this purpose. He took measures to establish a community radio, the first ever in Tanzania. He worked his fingers to the bone – a lot of sleepless nights – and finally the ORS FM first broadcasted news in 2002. The radio was in fact the first ever community radio in Tanzania – or in a larger perspective East Africa. It broadcast news in Kimaasai (the Maasai native language) and also played Maasai music.

After the idea of the community radio, Martin also realised that there was a need for electricity – not only for the radio station but also for the receivers of the information they portrayed. He worked on a number of projects, in association with different international organisations, to bring electricity to the Maasai people.

Martin also worked to help women facing different challenges, most especially those in the maasai areas – they were more prone to treacherous practices – such beatings from husbands, mutilation and harassment. IOPA created a safe haven where beaten women would go to and tell their stories. It also tried to prevent female genital mutilation, FGM, child marriage and women oppression. IOPA dedicated some of its resources to educate women and raise the status of women in the Maasai society. IOPA also sought to help women economically. IOPA established dairies in Simanjiro with a long-sighted view of enabling women to sell milk and get money, they used to acquire their needs and the needs of their families. In the maasai culture, the only resource that belongs to women is milk.

Martin had broad and liberal outlook in his work, which touched each and almost every age group and social class by the time. For children, IOPA helped establish more than 50 pre-primary and primary schools across the region.

Martin’s work didn’t go unnoticed – he was elected an Ashoka fellow in 2003 and got the attention of a Dutch philanthropist, Dini de Rijcke, and began to work with her through her foundation, Strichting Het Groene Woudt (SHGW). Through working with Ashoka and SHGW, IOPA achieved many of its objectives. The Dutch foundation provided IOPA with 5 dairy plants and generators to power them across the region, and each dairy could process up to 2000 litres of milk into yoghurt, cheese, ghee and butter per day. These products were sold throughout the country. In cooperation with these organizations, IOPA was also able to work on a number of water supply projects, that bore fruits as the people in the dry Maasai lands got water with much more ease than before.

IOPA centre in Terrat

The women’s refuge centre was expanded to also be guest houses that could accommodate visitors to the area. IOPA also added additional generators to build one of the first mini-grids in the country to supply more than 1000 people in Terrat village with electricity, since the government had considered it too expensive to connect Terrat to the national electricity grid.

Martin was bestowed various awards for his great work such as Social Entrepreneur of the Year 2014 by the Schwab Foundation and World Economic Forum Africa, the Ford Global Community Leadership Award, and Dubai Global Innovator Award.

Martin suggested that IOPA had to try and create viable micro businesses, so that even after funders ended their collaborations, IOPA would still be able to run its activities and thrive. As of today, IOPA’s remaining running projects include ORS FM radio, a few dairy plants, the conference centre, the water business, the guest house, and education and health support project in Terrat.

In 2019, IOPA was changed to Orkonerei Maasai Social Initiatives (OMASI) – an NGO – because of government laws and regulations, and by the end of 2020 Mr. Martin had achieved most of his goals and dreams.

On March 1st, 2021, Martin passed away. I can say that he hasn’t truly died because his works still live on – he lives through his works. He has left a legacy and very big shoes to fill. This story of Martin is supposed to be a motivation to anyone with big dreams, anyone who is fighting against all odds to achieve their dreams. I hope I have done his story some justice.


By Mariam Msangi – Art in Tanzania internship

Legal aid is the provision of assistance to people who are unable to afford legal representation and access to the court system. Legal aid is regarded as central in providing access to justice by ensuring equality. Before the law, the right to counsel and the right to a fair trial.  Aid provided by an organizations established specially to serve the legal needs of the poor.

Legal aid is the provision of assistance to people who are unable to afford legal representation and access to the court system. Legal aid is regarded as central in providing access to justice by ensuring equality before the law, the right to counsel and the right to a fair trial.

Importance of legal aid

-Legal aid may be taken to mean free legal assistance to the low-income people in any judicial proceedings before the Court, Tribunals, or any authority. It intends to provide free legal assistance to the low-income people who are not able to enforce the rights given to them by law.

-For those that cannot afford a lawyer, access to legal advice and assistance can not only empower a person to resolve their legal problem, but also to prevent that problem from negatively impacting the other aspects of their life.

-An advantage of using Legal Aid, if you do qualify, is that it normally protects you from having to pay the other side’s costs if you lose the case. However with Legal Aid you do have to make a contribution to your own legal costs. Is legal aid important?

-Legal aid is the provision of assistance to people who are unable to afford legal representation and access to the court system. Legal aid is regarded as central in providing access to justice by ensuring equality before the law, the right to counsel, and the right to a fair trial.


There are two types of legal aid: for civil and for criminal cases. All applications for legal aid for criminal cases are means tested. But some applications for legal aid for civil cases are not means tested, for example care cases and Mental Health Tribunal cases.

Below is a summary of the types of free legal services that may be available in your state.

Public Defenders

If you have been arrested and charged with a crime, you may be dreading heading to court, especially if you do not have the resources to afford a lawyer. You may be entitled to obtain legal services without charge. However under the United States Constitution, you have the right to free legal services for your criminal trial if you cannot afford an attorney of your own. Often, these attorneys are appointed by a judge from a public defender’s office when you are formally charged with criminal counts. This attorney will be assigned to your case for the duration of your criminal trial, as well as your first appeal if you lose the initial criminal case. To find out more, you can contact your local public defender’s office.

Legal Aid Clinics

If you think that you need to file a lawsuit to protect your interests but are unable to afford a private lawyer, you may be able to qualify for legal aid, often called legal services. Legal aid organizations and attorneys often receive funds from the government and are normally tasked with taking on cases concerning the poor and the low-income. Because of their limited funding, however, legal aid societies and lawyers can usually only take on a select few cases. The lawsuits that legal aid attorneys normally litigate are ones involving denial of unemployment benefits, social security benefits, consumer credit issues, and eviction and other landlord tenant lawsuits.

Before you begin looking to obtain services from a legal aid organization, make sure you are eligible. Often times, legal aid organizations only take cases from those who make less than a certain amount of money each year. You can look in the phone book or contact a local bar association in order to get in touch with a legal aid society to see if you may qualify for free legal services. Government funding to these organizations is usually limited, and because of this, they may not be able to take your case, or you may be in for a long wait.

Personal Injury Attorneys on Contingency

Many personal injury attorneys take cases on a contingency fee basis, which means that you do not pay anything to the attorney up front and the lawyer only gets paid if you get paid. Contingency fee arrangements are great for those who have winning cases but no real means of paying an hourly fee to an attorney.

The way a contingency fee basis works is that you and your attorney will decide on a percentage amount of the reward that the attorney will get upon a successful lawsuit or settlement. This percentage is often in the neighborhood of 30-40%, but can vary depending upon your state and the laws governing these arrangements where you live. Keep in mind that this percentage does not cover the costs incurred by an attorney, such as filing and court fees. If your case does go to trial, however, and you are successful in your lawsuit, judges often award the costs of the lawsuit in addition to the judgment amount for your injury.

Pro Bono Services

Attorneys working in private practice and in firms often set aside a portion of their time to work on pro bono cases. As with community legal aid clinics, pro bono services typically are offered to individuals whose combined household income is less than 125 percent of the federal poverty level. There are some exceptions to these income limits, which you would need to learn about from each pro bono program.

Social Justice Organizations

Often times you may find an attorney willing to provide free legal services if your case involves some issue of social justice. Social justice issues are easy to spot as they will have implications that extend well beyond the scope of your case and include things like sexual harassment in the workplace or freedom of speech. For example, if you are attempting to sue your landlord for racially discriminating against you, you may be able to find an attorney willing to work for you on a pro bono basis as this case may have a broader influence on the community than just your specific problem.

Law School Legal Clinics

You can find free legal services at many law schools’ legal clinics that provide free legal services to low-income clients by law students under the supervision of an attorney (usually a clinical professor). Generally, this type of pro bono work is offered in one or more particular areas, including family law, elder law, landlord-tenant issues, health care law, and financial assistance. Moreover, law students can provide a range of legal services including, but not limited to, research and writing, drafting legal documents, client interviews, negotiation, and court preparation.

How can I get legal aid
A person in need of free legal services can approach the concerned authority or committee through an application which could either be made by sending in written form, or by filling up the forms prepared by the said authorities stating in brief the reason for seeking legal aid or can be made orally.

Where we can approach for any legal help?

Where should I approach in order to seek free legal services/aid? The SupremeCourt Legal Services Committee for cases before the Hon’ble Supreme Court. Each District Legal Services Authority, High Court Legal Services Committee and State Legal Services Authority has a front office where an application can be moved.

Why is free legal aid important?

Free legal aid is provided to ensure that opportunities for justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other disabilities. Legal services includes rendering of any service in the conduct of any case or other legal proceedings before any court and giving of advice on any legal matter.