Tanzania has over the years made significant strides in tackling poverty – one of the three enemies of this nation as spelt out by the Father of the Nation, Mwalimu Nyerere. Recent World Bank poverty assessments show that poverty in mainland Tanzania has declined steadily by approximately one percentage point each year between 2007 and 2012.
During that period, extreme poverty decreased from 11.7 to 9.7 per cent. And the latest figures released last week by the Vienna-based World Poverty Clock shows though 21.2 million Tanzanians still live in abject poverty, at least 66 people are escaping extreme impoverishment every hour.
Comparatively, the country is doing better than neighbours Kenya where 36 people are escaping poverty hourly, according to the World Poverty Clock. The challenge now is what needs to be done to ensure that Tanzania eradicates extreme poverty by 2030 to meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
At the current rate, the World Poverty Clock suggests that Tanzania, like the rest of East Africa will not be able to attain that goal.
In Eastern Africa, it’s only Ethiopia, where 300 people get out of the debilitating condition per hour, is on course to wiping out extreme deprivation by December 31, 2030.
Tanzania can learn a few things from Ethiopia if it is to boost its poverty war. The Horn of African nation has been fashioning itself as a manufacturing hub, through creation of industrial clusters and sound policies that are creating thousands of jobs every year.
In part, our small manufacturing base denies households a steady stream of income flow. More so, with a large segment of the population living on the edge above the poverty line there is a high risk of slipping back to poverty.
The government should, therefore, ensure that its mega infrastructure projects are aimed at poverty reduction.