In a time that life was just getting decidedly better with the world adopting to the corona pandemic, a war between Ukraine and Russia broke out.
Life took an unexpected turn in most of the countries including Tanzania as each one started striving and dealing with the aftermath of a war that still has not ended.
Breathing in the free oxygen started feeling expensive and almost unaffordable. The cost of living in different countries started competing in terms of hiking.
Like many countries, Tanzania started witnessing some of the products that were being imported become overpriced.
Few of these products include fuel, oil, wheat and maize. This misery did not end there. In fact it was just the beginning.
It was April 8 of this year when the United Nations (UN) explained how the war between Russia and Ukraine has been driving international food prices to ‘new all-time high’ which causes the current imposition of extra costs to global consumers.
The surging of these prices started setting pressure on the prices of other essential products in the market such as sugar and vegetable oil.
Around the same time, the price for Sunflower seed oil increased to almost twice the amount that we knew. Meat and dairy products became somewhat unaffordable.
On the other hand, food and drinks made of wheat started becoming costly and in some place, scarce.
In mid-April 2022, the government announced new prices for fuel, setting a record for the highest prices to ever been imposed in the country.
On May 3, the government released yet another statement that revealed new prices, higher than the ones before.
Life became a tough row to hoe as the level of prices on everyday items kept increasing by the second and the end of this situation remains a mystery.
Amongst the people affected by these changes are young people, some of whom are still students, some are employees and employers and others are still exploring their options.
Life & Style interviewed multiple young people working in different industries who have detailed how they are faring with the rise of the costs of living and their take on what should be done.
Metheselah is an artist based in Dar es Salaam. Commonly known as Method, he paints and sells art.
With his business operating, he is able to pay rent, part of his tuition fees and other needs. He explains many Tanzanians have barely noticed the changes that are a result of the rise of cost of living and what the changes truly mean.
“The Cost of Life in Tanzania is rising at the highest speed yet, this is evidently seen when you purchase different things; it is noticeable that the changes are not even slight, they are extreme. When the government announced the new fuel prices, my early thoughts were that it would only affect people in transportation.”
“Little did I know that the new prices touch every aspect of our lives. Foods’s prices are surging, rent keeps increasing and those are just a few examples. There are some things I have chosen to not purchase because I cannot afford their prices. As much as the changes can be undetected now but in the long run, the crisis will touch many lives than it has already affected,” Method explains.
In effort to survive the crisis, he advises young people to develop an economical philosophy that will help them strive through the impact this crisis is likely to leave.
“Young people have to change their lifestyles in order to survive this crisis. It is high time they understand the difference between needs and wants. This knowledge should be embedded with saving and investment education,” he details.
Method further says, “With the current rise of the cost of living, young people have to avoid spending their money on unnecessary things. In such unpredictable periods of time, it is important to save every cent because it is better spent on the things that bring value to you.”
Lisa Ruth Hakim
Lisa is a hair styling salon owner based in Dar es Salaam. She is also a law student at the University of Tumaini.
She says that the rise of the cost of living affects her business in ways she had not thought of before.
“Among many businesses that have been touched by the ongoing crisis, mine is one them. I usually like to be creative in ways that can differentiate my business from others. I had a habit of importing hair from foreign countries but now the story is different,” says Lisa.
When she figured out that the prices of importing hair had risen, Lisa started using agents who were importing other products including hair.
“As I started doing that, I was then informed that the prices at the border had increased. This made me turn to local resources (in this case hair) as something I could utilize,” she narrates.
As Lisa started doing that, it was around the time prices for petrol and energy were announced to have increased across the country.
“In my saloon, I had another business through which I sell saloon related products that I used to deliver to my customers using my car, but with the prices shot up, I had to change to public transport. To concur the rise of cost of living, I have had to change my lifestyle to cope with the inflation,” she details.
Lisa articulated that as a country, Tanzania needs to utilize trade blocks in business conduction between neighboring states including Rwanda, Mozambique, Kenya and Uganda.
She also says with the rise of petrol and energy prices, Tanzania should start looking to renewable energy as an option that can assist the county and its people during this crisis.
Joram is a camera operator at Sport 24 news outlet based in Dar es Salaam.
He acknowledges the rise of the cost of living in the country as he names it ‘unfriendly’ to many people including young people.
“The current economic situation depicts how the situation affects young people amongst other people.
We live in a society that has forgotten that we [young people] make the largest portion of the population in the country. This means every decision made touches the youth directly or indirectly.”
“With the rising costs of living, many young people who had employed themselves are now fighting for the businesses not to crumble,” he details.
Joram reveals that due to mass unemployment, many young people have opted for self-employment in different industries and with the rise of the cost of living, these people do not progress because they are focused on survival rather than growing their business.
“The amount of money made before this crisis was able to push them to grow slowly, but this current crisis has made them pause as they try to analyse ways they will have to adopt so that they can thrive in this hard period,”
“As for me, I am now dancing to the tune. As the cost of living is now hiking up, my expenditures have decreased to match the new way of living. Since some of the prices went up, I knew I had to redo my budget in order to be able to survive this crisis. I advise individuals to minimize their expenditure in a way that they can live through this period,” Joram explains.
Joram reveals that in a time when products keep recording their respective highest ever price hikes, it is better for a person to purchase these products when they mostly need them, not whenever they can.
He is a business man driving an autorickshaw (bajaji) in the skirts of Dar es Salaam.
Like many people, Mohammed has been affected by the rise of the cost of living, from petrol prices to food prices.
“We have never been through an economic crisis like this, at least I have never witnessed one. The prices for wheat, rice and flour have all hiked up. As much as there is nothing we can do to change the situation, it truly affects us.”
“For instance with the current petrol prices, it becomes difficult taking a passenger to a distant place with former prices because there is no profit for me in that. These days it is even hard to get passengers unless you agree to the former prices for them,” he explains.
In an unexpected turn of events, Tanzanians now have to explore ways in which they can sustain themselves during the crisis that no one in particular knows when will end.
With each expenditure, individuals have to now consider that the times have changed, so should they live within your means in way that you would not be affected once the situation worsens or gets back to how it was.