First Impressions of the Land of Lion King

I’ve just returned from my first visit to our Tanzania programme. We are working with eight incredible Tanzanian organisations in the north of Tanzania, and what a privilege it was to be able to spend time with these inspirational African leaders – thank you Maanda, Dafrosa, Aginatha, Alfred, Lilian, Martha, Alfred, Lynda and Makko for sparing no effort to bring about change in Tanzania.

Everyone has an image of Tanzania – we know it as the inspirational land of the Lion King (the Serengeti National Park), the tallest mountain in Africa (Mount Kilimanjaro) and one of the most familiar indigenous groups in the world (the Maasai). All of these images are truly Tanzanian and are part of the landscape where African Initiatives works.

What people might not know is that the government of Tanzania passed a decree in 2017 that prohibits girls from going to school if they are pregnant; that the country gets the majority of children into primary school but very few into secondary; that among many communities in the north, the illegal practice of female genital mutilation is still common; that many people who rely for their livelihood on cattle grazing (pastoralists) struggle to access land because of the tourist industry boom; and that 200 people a day are infected with HIV.

The government of Tanzania receives a lot of foreign aid but many charities have pulled out as they have had to priortise their resources elsewhere. This means that large-scale infrastructure and other national programmes are funded, but that those organisations responsible for the last mile delivery of essential services are starved of resources; the support they need to ensure that everyone in Tanzania receives decent services just isn’t there.

This is why I know our work at African Initiatives is so important. Working with the Tanzania Women Research Foundation we ensure that the most vulnerable people in Tanzania, such as female sex workers, receive HIV support and medication. Our partnership with Tusonge Community Development Organisation has led to the first savings groups being accessible to people with disabilities to support job creation – the first in the region. Our 20-year partnership with the Ujaama Community Resource Team has led to 691,431 hectares of ancestral land being surveyed and secured by legal tenure so that over 27,000 people living on and from the land can make a proper claim to it. In collaboration with the Pastoral Women’s Council, Community Research and Development Services, Community Aid and Small Enterprises Consultancy and the Joshua Foundation we’ve made sure that Maasai girls who had dropped out of school are back studying and will graduate from secondary school. And with Childreach Tanzania we ensure that when girls and boys are in school they have access to safe drinking water and the resources to learn about sanitation and hygiene.

But don’t take my word for it – we’re working with organisations that are experts in their field and I would encourage you to visit their websites to read more about their work directly.

And, of course, please do give me or anyone on the team here a call at African Initiatives if you would like to find out more. Or arrange to come into our offices in Bristol. We’d be happy to talk about our programmes over a cup of coffee (Tanzanian, of course)!

James Treasure-Evans, African Initiatives’ Director of Funding and Partnerships

If you would like to support our work in Tanzania, please donate here.