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USAID in Tanzania : a New $24 Million Food Security Project

WINCHESTER, United Kingdom — On August 8, at the annual Nane Nane event in Mbeya, southwest Tanzania, the U.S. Government and the United Republic of Tanzania announced a new $24 million food security initiative. 

The five-year project, Tuhifadhi Chakula (‘Let’s Save Food’), aims to reduce food loss and waste, as 40-50% of crops in Tanzania are lost between the fields and the markets. The program aims to halve this figure and, if successful, it will decrease food insecurity and increase export opportunities for the country. This agreement will increase the impact of USAID in Tanzania and marks an extension of USAID’s ‘Feed the Future’ program, which fights food insecurity globally.

Widespread Insecurity

This project will have a significant impact on Tanzania, where 34% of children under five are stunted, and almost 45% of reproductive-age women are anemic as a result of malnutrition. During the winter of 2022-23, the proportion of people experiencing food insecurity increased. According to a study by Relief Web, which analyzed 8.7 million people in 28 districts between October 2022 and February 2023, 964,000 people (or 11% of the population analyzed) were estimated to have experienced high levels of food insecurity. This is an increase from May of 2022, when 9.4% of the country’s population lacked sufficient food.

Of these 964,000 people, 18,000 were classed at the Phase 4: emergency level, and 946,000 were classed as Phase 3: crisis. On top of this, 2.7 million people, around 31% of the population analyzed, were grouped in Phase 2: stressed.

Many factors contribute to this food insecurity. Failure in crop and livestock production can be attributed to long dry spells and irregular rainfall. Additionally, during the 2021-22 harvest season, pests and livestock diseases led to decreased production. Food insecurity is also caused by high prices, and compared with the beginning of 2020, food price inflation is up 44%. Limited opportunities for casual labor, due to an influx of refugees, has also contributed to the problem. As of February 2023 Tanzania is playing host to 247,000 refugees, the majority of whom are from Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo. These refugees are paid less for their labor than Tanzanian nationals and therefore more likely to be hired. This decreases the labor opportunities for Tanzanian nationals and in turn, lowers their household income.

However, things are looking up. Rice planting area is expected to increase by 10% in 2023-2024, meaning production will also increase, and according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), corn production in Tanzania is also expected to increase by 3% next year. But, despite this, limited access to fertilizer and predicted outbreaks of the pest armyworm mean that the harvest will likely still be below average. This demonstrates why the work that will be done by USAID in Tanzania as a result of this project is so important, as it aims to reduce food waste and ensure that as much of the food grown as possible is viable.

Not the First Time

This project will build on previous work done by USAID in Tanzania. The country is classed as a ‘Feed the Future’ focus country, meaning that it continually receives aid from the U.S. to fight food insecurity. The Feed the Future Initiative was founded in 2010 under Obama, and since then, an estimated 23.4 million people have risen above the poverty line in the areas where the program operates. In Tanzania alone, over 450,000 people have benefitted from its interventions, and production of rice per acre has almost doubled for farmers supported by the initiative.

The $24 million contributed as a result of this initiative will add to the $5 million donation that was announced in June of this year by USAID in Tanzania. This money will provide local farmers with essential resources such as agricultural machinery, equip them to fight any challenges posed by climate change and improve irrigation systems. In addition to this money, there are also a number of other projects supported by USAID in Tanzania that are currently under operation. These include the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa Activities and the Private Sector Strengthening Activity. These programs promote new farming technologies and strengthen the private sector.

USAID in Tanzania has done great work to combat food insecurity, at a time when climate change threatens harvests and hunger is widespread. Continual investment is required to ensure that those in poverty have enough to eat and to reduce food waste — ensuring that the majority of crops harvested make it to the market. This $24 million, and the strong, long-existing partnership between Tanzania and USAID, have the potential to make this possible.

Source : Borgen Magazine