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1988 saw the first SOS Children's Village open in Tanzania at Zanzibar, followed by a children's village at Arusha and Dar es Salaam. Over 150 are cared for in loving family homes at these locations and more than 700 children from the local communities attend SOS Nursery and Primary schools as well as the SOS Social Centre at Arusha. … more about our charity work in Tanzania

Preventing more stunted children in Tanzania

Despite having an economy growing between 6-7% annually, Tanzania is one of the world’s poorest nations in terms of income per head and as more families struggle with food costs, the country is seeing a rise in the number of malnourished children.

According to the recent Save the Children report ‘A life free from hunger’, Tanzania is among the six worst-performing countries in terms of an increase in stunting rates among children. And the situation is likely to get worse; Tanzania is predicted to have an extra 450,000 stunted children by 2020.

Many health and aid organisations now recognise that economic growth does not necessarily lead to a reduction in stunting rates among children, because increased wealth doesn’t always reach the poorest and most vulnerable families. And even when it does filter down, increased income is sometimes not enough on its own to prevent stunting. In Tanzania, even among groups of the population which are less poor than others, there are still high rates of stunting among children. This suggests that much work still needs to be done to educate families about nutrition and change certain types of diet or behaviour.

Last year, a civil society movement called the Nutrition Partnership for Tanzania (PANITA) was launched in Dar es Salaam. This has attracted members from a range of ministries and bodies, not only those working on nutrition, but also representatives from agriculture, health and social protection services. The aim of the movement is to provide a stronger voice on nutrition planning and policy issues, as well as promoting methods for scaling up food production.

For some time, food and farming experts across Africa have been lobbying for greater investment in the support of small-scale farmers as one way to increase local harvests. A recent Alertnet article highlights the example of one Tanzanian farmer in Makutupora, around 17 miles north of the capital. Balisidya Jacob is the sole earner for his extended family of 17 children, but by planting a new drought-resistant maize variety called situka, he will be able to feed them all this year. The farmer is taking part in a project called Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA), which has been set up to evaluate which seed varieties are best adapted to the drought-prone climate of the region. (WEMA trials are also being run in countries such as Kenya, Uganda, Mozambique and South Africa.) With farming projects such as these and better education among families about nutrition, experts hope that the predictions for hundreds of thousands of extra stunted children in Tanzania may not come true.
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