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Sida's work in Tanzania

In Tanzania, Sida is primarily concerned with raising the level of education, strengthening democracy, increasing respect for human rights and alleviating poverty. Half of the population of Tanzania live in extreme poverty. Human rights are also increasingly being violated.

Progress has been made

Expanding social security

A nationwide social security system has been under development since 2015. This reaches some 5 million people in extreme poverty who receive a small cash grant, something that has reduced poverty, improved housing and resulted in more children attending school. Free primary education was introduced in 2015 (2017 in Zanzibar), leading to a sharp increase in the number of children starting school, many of them from families living in poverty.¹

Falling corruption

According to Transparency International, corruption has decreased since 2014, albeit from a very high level. In recent years, the government has been working actively to combat corruption.²

Increased access to electricity

Access to electricity is increasing: in 2020, 38% of Tanzanian households had electricity compared to 33% in 2017. That said, there are major regional differences. In urban areas, 73% of the population have access to electricity, compared to only 25% in rural areas.3

Challenges remain

Respect for human rights falling

There are negative trends in democratic development, human rights and the rule of law and the rights of women and girls continue to be adversely affected by powerful patriarchal structures.4

Deteriorating business climate

Sudden changes to legislation and regulation affecting businesses, as well as the unpredictability of how these are implemented, create a highly uncertain business environment that hampers investment, not least by international stakeholders.

Many children never finish school

The quality of primary schools is low and many students do not complete their schooling. The education of girls presents a particular challenge, not least in the case of young mothers, who are prevented by law from continuing their education in the formal school system.

Development cooperation in Tanzania

Tanzania long enjoyed greater political stability than its neighbours. For much of the twenty-first century, the Tanzanian economy grew rapidly and poverty declined. In recent years, however, political rule has become more authoritarian, the economy has contracted and poverty is no longer declining to the same extent. Half of the country’s just over 57 million citizens live in extreme poverty.5 There has also been some backsliding in democracy and human rights.

Democracy, human rights, gender equality, and the rule of law

Freedom of expression and media freedom are under increasing pressure in Tanzania. The situation for the LGBTQ community remains fraught, human rights activists have been imprisoned, critics of the Government threatened and civil society organisations are finding it more difficult to operate. Many adolescent girls and women suffer from gender-based violence and discrimination.


Protecting human rights

Human rights violations are becoming increasingly frequent. Sida supports a number of initiatives aimed at counteracting these developments, including the Legal and Human Rights Centre. Among other things, the Centre involves volunteers with a legal background in resolving land disputes, assists in divorce cases and pursues cases against the State when new laws breach the country’s constitution. Sida also supports the Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition, which defends human rights activists.

A stronger media and increased security for journalists

Tanzania plummeted 25 places in the Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index 2019 and a further six places in 2020, to 118th place out of 180 countries.6 Sida supports the Union of Tanzania Press Clubs (UTPC), which gathers journalists from 28 press clubs from as many regions all over Tanzania. The objective is to strengthen media ethics and the rights, security and working conditions of journalists, as well as to improve the quality of journalism.

Union of Tanzania Press Club’ s website


Primary schooling is now provided free of charge. This has led to the situation today where the vast majority of girls and boys start school. That said, the quality of education remains very low and the pressure on the educational system is high as more children begin attending school. Many schools do not have toilets or running water, which prevents girls from attending school when they are menstruating.


Strengthening the primary school system

There is a significant shortage of teachers, teaching materials and classrooms in Tanzanian schools. The Education Programme for Results (EPforR) is an innovative, results-based financing programme whose mission is to improve quality, equity and access in the public education system, for example by ensuring that funding reaches schools on time, that teachers are evenly distributed between schools and that statistics are prepared.


Improved educational opportunities for young mothers

Girls are prohibited from continuing formal education once they become pregnant or have children, making it harder for them to get a job and support themselves. Sida prioritises the education of girls through measures such as supporting the Karibu Tanzania Organisation (KTO), which offers a community college education to young mothers and young women.

Karibu Tanzania Organisation website

Employment and social security

The vast majority of Tanzanians work in the growing informal sectors of the economy, many in agriculture. Incomes are low and working conditions often poor.


Sustainable cultivation and improved yields in agriculture

Of the 65% of Tanzanians working in agriculture, the majority live in poverty. Sida supports several initiatives intended to further develop the agricultural sector. The Tanzania Horticultural Association (TAHA), for example, educates farmers in sustainable cultivation methods, works to create the preconditions for them sell their produce and encourages them to grow more fruit, vegetables, spices and flowers, which are more profitable than maize and cassava.

Tanzania Horticultural Association website

Business plans for farmers

Sida also provides a guarantee to Private Agricultural Sector Support (PASS) for the provision of business development services to farmers. In addition to helping farmers prepare business plans, PASS also offers commercial loans at market rates as an alternative to expensive short-term loans in the informal sector. Women are prioritised and offered favourable terms for loans.

Private Agricultural Sector Support website

Reinforcing the social security safety net

Malnutrition during the first year of life will have a negative impact on a child’s development. Sida supports the Productive Social Safety Network (PSSN) to reinforce the social security safety net. This project provides 1.1 million households with ongoing support, providing people with better access to food and improved health and allowing more children to attend school.

About the project on the Transfer Projects website


Environment and climate

The population of Tanzania is growing rapidly, putting pressure on the country’s natural resources. The unsustainable use of natural resources has an adverse effect on people and the environment.

Improved access to electricity

Sida supports initiatives to improve access to electricity in rural areas, by building new and densifying existing electricity grids and by supporting small-scale electricity generation. With the focus on renewable energy, Sida provides support to increase access to electricity in districts around the cities of Makambako in Njombe Region and Songea in Ruvuma Region. This support ensures electricity supplies to schools and health clinics, as well as facilitating the operations of the regions’ small and medium-sized enterprises. It also reduces the use of wood and coal as energy sources, which has a positive environmental impact and benefits the health and wellbeing of the population.

About the Makambako-Songea project on the Sweco website


Research cooperation

Swedish research cooperation with Tanzania began in 1977 with the intention of developing research capacity at universities so that local researchers have greater opportunities to identify solutions to the problems and challenges facing Tanzania.

Researching access to food and water

Twelve Swedish universities collaborate with three Tanzanian universities: the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM), Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS) and Ardhi University (ARU). Together, they conduct research on subjects such as food security, biomedicine, urban planning, rural development and business administration focused on agriculture and tourism. The programme funds 55 master’s students, 120 doctoral students and some 20 postdoctoral fellows.

Updated: May 31, 2021