In an otherwise conflict-filled region, Tanzania is a stable and peaceful country, even with its 120 different tribes and a relatively even distribution of Christians and Muslims. The country has enjoyed stable economic growth for several years, and an abundance of natural resources provides a good foundation for growth. Still, there is a long way to go. Over 30% of the population lives below the poverty line. In rural areas, the number is closer to 40%. Revenues from natural resources benefit the poor only to a very small degree, and about 35% of Tanzania's national budget comes from aid funds.
Norwegian Church Aid works together with Tanzanian partner organisations. In this way we are helping to build and strengthen Tanzanian civil society. Our most important partners in Tanzania are faith-based organisations, who enjoy broad support and a high degree of legitimacy. Our goal in Tanzania is to strengthen our partners' capacity, combat poverty and promote economic justice.
Livelihood and trade: Through savings and loan groups, or Village Community Banks (VICOBA), poor people can gain new possibilities in life. They can save money and take out small loans from a mutual savings fund so that they can, for example, start their own business and create a livelihood. Thanks to savings and loan groups, poor people are able to improve their own living conditions. Many can afford to send their children to school and no longer need to worry about whether they have enough food.
Norwegian Church Aid has established more than 1000 such savings and loan groups in 41 districts in Tanzania. Today, these groups have more than 25,000 members. We provide training and necessary equipment, as well as monitoring and guidance.
The majority of group members are women and, in many cases, membership strengthens the women’s situations. Through the group, they achieve increased economic independence and greater self confidence.
We are also engaged in advocacy to improve market access for small and medium-sized businesses. In addition, we provide training for savings and loan group members in establishing their own businesses in different areas.
Resources and finance: Tanzania is the third largest gold-producing country in Africa, but it is estimated that mining companies retain more than 90% of the profits. Minerals now account for nearly half the country’s exports and Tanzania is Africa’s third largest gold producer. Yet ordinary Tanzanians are not benefiting from this boom both because the government has implemented tax laws that are overly favourable to multinational mining companies and because of the practices of these companies.
Norwegian Church Aid is working for greater transparency, better regulation and more just tax rates for the mining and extractive industries. We support religious leaders so that they can play a more central role in the work for political change and greater economic justice.
At the local level, we support the training of groups so that people can, at grassroot level, learn to read public budgets and demand access to information. In this way, the community itself is in a position to en-sure that public funds are actually used as intended.
Gender justice: Norwegian Church Aid is working to give women greater knowledge about their rights. We often use VICOBA savings groups as a basis for the dissemination of such knowledge. This will further be combined with support to access Legal Aid for survivors.
Norwegian Church Aid supports local women's organisations in their advocacy work for establishing better national laws for the protection of women and women´s rights in Tanzania. We consider gender-based violence, as well as female genital mutilation, to be a violation of human rights and also focus on the protection of women and men who survive violence.
Climate change adaptation: Through various climate adaptation measures, Norwegian Church Aid contributes to helping the Tanzanian people becoming less vulnerable to climate change, especially in rural areas. We are building expertise in the use of watershed, small irrigation systems and rainwater harvesting. These measures also enhance food security. Norwegian Church Aid in Tanzania is also working to build our partners’ capacity within renewable energy. Together with our partners, we will also contribute to work in preventing deforestation.
Coordination through the ACT Alliance
Norwegian Church Aid in Tanzania is an active member of the newly established ACT Forum Tanzania. ACT Forum Tanzania is a forum for coordination and cooperation in several thematic issues in Tanzania.