[email protected]: Why the fight against poverty must come top

Tuesday November 23 2021
Poverty pic

Mwalimu Julius Nyerere celebrates as Tanganyika became an independent nation on December 9, 1961. He and several other Tanganyikans played a crucial role towards the country’s self determination. PHOTO | FILE

By Saumu Jumanne

Just ‘yesterday’ it was January 2021. And in a few weeks to come, we will be in January 2022! How quickly days come and pass like lightning. Flash back to December 9, 1961. That was when our dear motherland gained her independence from British rule! For the older generation that witnessed the iconic moment, it has been 60 years.

Talking to my mum, it does not look like a long time, to her! Yet in 60 years so much has taken place. Those born then, some are great grandparents. For us, the later days, post-independence generation, we have witnessed our nation making big strides, in all sectors of socio-economic life.

History has it that by 1967, our population was 12,313,469. Today, we are estimated to be over 60 million. Looks like every decade, we have an additional 10 million people. If the trend continues, in the next 60 years, it will be over 120 million people.

There are many milestones we can count. For instance, there is increased number of schools, hospitals and other public utilities like roads. The Citizen and other mainstream media are doing great, showcasing our achievements as the nation prepares to celebrate the 60th independence anniversary.

For me one of the most important achievements for Tanzania is that we have managed to remain an island of peace. Save for Zanzibar, when there was a political crisis, which led to peace agreement, which has managed to keep politics accommodative in the spice island, it has been peaceful all the way.

Our neighbours at one time or other have gone into civil strife. Millions of civilians died as a result. The worst was the Rwandan genocide. Burundi, Uganda, Kenya, South Sudan, all have suffered bitter civil strife. As well as celebrating our 60th independence, our peace must continue and it needs to be fortified.

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Looking back at our 60s independence anniversary, if I were to be asked one thing that we must accelerate for the masses to lead a more quality life, I would say, we should fight to defeat income poverty among the masses.

How many calls or short phone messages do you get in a day, from people who know you, seeking assistance, just to meet the needs for a meal of the day?

For many urban dwellers, their origins are in the upcountry, and the relatives left over there, more often than not, seek cash help, to bail them out of one problem or the other.

Worse still, is when diseases strike, and the affected person does not have any health insurance cover. If there is no one to help foot the bill, sometimes even a piece of land will be sold.

Often, you can ask yourself, why should anyone suffer from hunger, when Tanzania is land of plenty as far as our agriculture fortunate are concerned? We are exporting grains, and a good number of farmers have been able to transform from peasantry to commercial farmers.

Infact, Tanzania has managed to be adequately food secure for over two decades continuously. Yes, but that does not mean that everyone is able to get food, and no one suffers hunger in our dear motherland.

Hunger in our situation is a question of lack of income. In other words, income poverty is what makes even people in regions where there is a lot of food, have malnourished children. A farmer needs money, before his crop matures for selling.

One could be farming maize and beans, but needs to pay school and medical fees for the children. Although you can make a meal using maize and beans grain, in our place, we call it makande, but you need cooking oil and other ingredients which need money to be bought.