Thursday, September 26, 2013

Report reveals rapid rural -urban migration

Zanzibar First Vice President Idd Ali Seif

Zanzibar First Vice President Idd Ali Seif unveils in Dar es Salaam yesterday a volume of population distribution statistics derived from last year’s national census. PHOTO | FIDELIS FELIX 

By Athuman Mtulya

Dar es Salaam. Half of Tanzania’s population is made up of children while the number of urban dwellers has risen steadily from six percent in 1967 to 30 percent in 2012, according to the Population and Housing Census that was unveiled yesterday.

The percentage of children has dropped slightly--from 50.6 in 2002 to 50.1 as of 2012--meaning about 22.5 million Tanzanians are under 18. Under-18s comprised 52.4 per cent of the population in 1988, according to the second volume of the 2012 Population and Housing Census, which focused on population distribution by age and sex.

The percentage of youth aged between 15 and 24 remained steady at 19 percent to 20 percent. A big chunk of young people (0-14 years) are to be found in rural areas, especially in the Lake and Western zones. Simiyu region leads in this category with 51.3 percent, followed by Geita and Rukwa, both with 50.5 percent.

Dar es Salaam has the lowest number of youth at only 31.6 percent. The situation in the city runs counter to the working age population (15-64 years) pattern, which places the majority in urban areas. Here, Dar es Salaam leads by far, with 66.3 percent followed by Mjini Magharibi in Zanzibar with 57.8 percent.

Other regions with significant urban settings such as Arusha, Mwanza, Kilimanjaro, Iringa and Mbeya all recorded above 50 percent working age population.

Simiyu, which has the highest young population ratio, has the lowest percentage of working age population at 45.5 percent, followed by Mara with 46.9 percent. Geita and Rukwa came in third, both with 47 per cent of working age population.

The opposite distribution of young and adult population in rural and urban areas, according to National Bureau of Statistics Director-General Albina Chuwa, attests to why the number of those living in urban areas is steadily rising.

The first census in 1967 found that out of 12.3 million Tanzanians then, 704,000 or about to six per cent were urban-based. The number rose to 13.8 per cent in 1978, 18.4 percent in 1978, 23.1 percent in 2002, and 29.6 percent now--which works out to some 13 million people.

“There are a number of factors, but the quick one we can grasp from the data is rural-urban migration,” she said. “As urbanisation gains pace, the number of people coming to urban areas from rural homes in pursuit of good education and better economic opportunities also rises.”

Elders aged 60 and above comprise 5.6 percent of the population. Kilimanjaro region has the highest number of the elderly at seven per cent. Dar es Salaam and Mjini Magharibi, both at 2.1 percent, have the lowest percentage of old folk countrywide. “With the lowest percentage of young and elderly populations and at the same time with the highest population of the working age group, Dar es Salaam is the true economic engine of the country,” said Dr Chuwa.

The First Vice-President of Zanzibar, Ambassador Idd Seif, said the statistics would be meaningless if the government did not use them for planning purposes.

Mr Seif, who unveiled the 2012 census, added: “With the data, we now know how many schoolgoing children are out there and we can, therefore, work on all necessary preparations. We also know how many elderly people are there and we can calculate the amount of pension we have to disburse. Most important, we can set in motion trends which will help us execute our plans before the next census.”

The 2012 Population and Housing Census, conducted last year by the National Bureau of Statistics, established that there are 44,928,923 Tanzanians. About 21 million are male and 23 million female.