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Tanzania’s economic structure
Pattern in sectoral resource allocation
Institutional involvement in nutrition relevant actions
The sectoral definition of the nutrition problem
The use of nutrition information in policy and planning
The winners and losers of different policy decisions relevant to nutrition


Because the nutrition situation is a manifestation of complex biological and social processes in society, it is evidently intertwined with the social, political and economic developments of society. It is acknowledged that there is a two-way direct causal relationship linking social and economic conditions with nutritional status and the underlying determinants of food security, caring capacity and essential services like health services; education; water and sanitation. The implication is that a country with favourable socioeconomic conditions, is more likely to allocate substantial human, financial and organizational resources to nutrition-related programmes than a poor country irrespective of the political orientation. There is evidence to show that by and large, as a country’s income (GNP) increases, the absolute and relative amounts of its social expenditure increases [Gillespie and Mason, 1991].

Examples of the nutrition-socioeconomic links exist. The impact of fertility on health implies, for instance that optimal age marriages and lower fertility lead to fewer high risk pregnancies and deliveries; small families and a low population growth rate which are all associated with good nutrition. Well educated persons are more likely to have or easily acquire the knowledge for individual and community action to improve the nutrition situation and would also be better placed to get better paying jobs than non-educated persons. Well nourished students are better able to concentrate in school and perform well academically than malnourished students. Likewise well nourished workers are more productive than undernourished workers. Thus while socioeconomic development is important for good nutrition, good nutrition is likewise important for socioeconomic development. This chapter discusses the political economy of nutrition in Tanzania paying particular attention to historical, political, social and economic sets of variables and their effect on nutrition.

Tanzania’s economic structure

The colonial economic heritage
Post-independence economic State interventions
Some disturbing features of the economy
Liberalization and Privatization
The impact of structural adjustment

The strength and structure of the economy is one of the major factors determining the nutrition status of the people. Like all countries in the early stages of development, which is the case with most African countries, the economy of Tanzania suffers from low investment, low production, agricultural dependency, a small tax base and the legacy of colonialism. The basic structural features of the economy of Tanzania is thus characterized by two distinct economic structures: a large traditional rural agricultural sector and a low capital labour intensive urban industrial sector. The linkages between these two economies are not strong although the agricultural sector has the potential for producing the bulk of raw materials for domestic industry in addition to fostering export growth. Industry supplies inputs for agriculture, as well as consumer/incentive goods for the rural population. The linkage is further weakened by poor transport and communication infrastructure. The energy sector is also severely underdeveloped and apart from the aging hydro-electric plants, depends mainly on imported oil.

Cash crop farming, manufacturing, mining, transportation and construction activities all rely heavily on imported inputs, while foreign exchange earnings depend on the export performance of a small group of primary commodities. This has made Tanzania extremely sensitive to developments in the industrialized countries.

The major export cash crops comprise coffee, cotton, sisal, tobacco, tea, cashewnut and pyrethrum which together account for more than 75 percent of total foreign exchange earnings. Cocoa is emerging as a promising export crop. The major food crops include maize, rice, wheat, cassava, millet, beans, sorghum, bananas and a variety of vegetables, fruits, potatoes and other root plants. Large potential for expanding crop production remains unexploited, mainly as a result of low levels of technology, insufficient supply of inputs and tools, and poor agricultural infrastructure. Although the country is rich in rivers, fresh water lakes and irrigable plains, most current farming activities rely on the availability of rain. As a result agricultural production is far less than what can potentially be produced.

Because of the extreme dependence on primary commodities as a source of foreign earnings the global slump in commodity prices and the steady deterioration in the terms of trade during the last one and half decades have particularly hit the country. For development to take place in an orderly fashion, there must be large amounts of capital available. The low yield agricultural sector alone, which is the major source of capital, cannot be expected to generate the necessary revenue to provide for social welfare; maintain civil, law, order and security administration and still leave enough for investment including industrial development.

The colonial economic heritage

Tanzania’s economic structure is a legacy of colonial heritage. Whatever merits one may accord colonialism in bringing Africa into the world economy, it certainly was not intended to impose balanced economic growth. Colonial possessions, are, by definition, acquired to supply raw materials, not to compete in the production of finished goods. Thus at independence in 1961, Tanzania’s economic structure reflected British colonial interests, consisting of an export-import enclave geared to serving the colonial power on the one hand, and a large traditional sector supporting over 90 percent of the population on the other hand. The infrastructure - roads, railways and harbours - was designed to serve the export-import enclave. Both Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and exports were dominated by primary production (mainly coffee, cotton, sisal and diamonds), and the small manufacturing sector was dominated by consumption goods. Sectoral contribution to the GDP was dominated by agriculture, 50-60 percent, while industry accounted for 12-15 percent of which the manufacturing sub-sector claimed only 36 percent. A similar pattern existed in employment: some 90 percent working their own land, 5 percent employed in rural areas (mainly on estates owned by expatriates and local Asians, and accounting for 3-4 percent of the agricultural land) and about 5 percent earning a living in urban settings. Income per capita stood at US$ 50 (or Tsh. 380 at the time). The main economic sectors had many distorted features which could limit the rate of growth after independence. In agriculture, although the traditional subsistence sector was the largest in terms of population depending on it (90 percent) and agricultural land area (96 percent), it received little attention from the colonial administration. Most inputs (infrastructure, credit, etc.) went to the estates which produced 35 percent of marketed agricultural output and 45 percent of all exports.

The industry sector had several problems which had to be resolved after independence. First, in terms of ownership, most of the industries belonged to transnational corporations and Asians-local and foreign. Second, much of what was produced apart from processed food, beer and beverages, was for export. Third, most of the consumer goods produced catered for a small urban population.

In the financial sector, the commercial banks and other institutions were foreign-owned, served a small section of the economy and offered credit to whites and Asians only, thereby discouraging the growth of indigenous entrepreneurship. In terms of investment capital and external trade, there was near total dependence on a few countries, particularly Britain, the former colonial power.

The inherited state of the social sector had many inadequacies. Most government health services (hospitals) were urban based and the rural ‘native authorities’ were left to provide whatever service they could with assistance from church-based Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and limited government subsidies. Most limiting as a developmental tool was the tripartite educational system-for Africans, Asians and Europeans - which allocated a trickle of resources to the African majority. Thus in 1961 enrolment in primary schools (for a population of nine million) was only 486,000 and in secondary schools 16,000. Only about 0.2 percent of the labour force was skilled, and less than 150 Africans had university education. Out of 3,100 jobs classified as professional and technical (like nurses, clerks, primary school teachers and medical technicians), only 1,300 (42 percent) were held by Africans. This situation limited the localization of the civil service posts to only 26 percent, with only 3 percent in top executive posts at independence (Wangwe and Luvanga 1990:4-5).

Post-independence economic State interventions

After independence the State intervened actively in the economy so as to change its structure, accelerate growth and correct the inherited inequalities and imbalances in social and geographical distribution of resources. The most dramatic interventions were those ushered by the Arusha Declaration (TANU 1967) which included (1) state take over of the commanding heights of the economy; (2) reorganization of the rural communities, replacing the World Bank sponsored Capitalist settlements (World Bank 1960) with Ujamaa/Socialist villages; (3) a policy on Education for Self-Reliance (Nyerere 1967a); (4) a specific policy on Workers’ Participation (URT 1970) and a general one on people’s right to participate in decision-making at all levels of the official bureaucracies and in other institutions (TANU 1971); (5) decentralization of government responsibilities and resources to the regions and districts (Nyerere 1972); (6) diversification of external trade and sources of aid to include the socialist camp; (7) import substitution strategies and a new industrial strategy (URT 1976), and (8) a host of specific state interventions in the economy affecting conditions of production, distribution and exchange. In so far as such interventions related to the classical political question of “who gets what, when and how”, they have much relevance for nutrition analysis. They can be grouped into three sets (Mushi and Jackson 1990).

The first set of interventions related to settlement patterns and organization of the rural population and their modes of production. Specific programmes included the village settlement schemes, 1963-1973 (World Bank 1960, URT 1964); the Ujamaa villagization drive, 1967-73; the massive non-ujamaa villagization, 1974-77; and the creation of state farms for large-scale production of cereals (wheat, rice, etc) and dissemination of technical innovation among the peasantry (URT 1969).

The second set of interventions affected factor markets. The most important ones relate to land, capital and labour. In 1963 all land was converted into leasehold and its sale was prohibited. Nationalization of some private land (mainly of foreigners) was undertaken after 1967, and village land was protected against the encroachment of kulak or capitalist farmers. With regard to capital, credit was controlled in favour of co-operative farmers and state farms (till the liberalization policies of the eighties). With regard to labour, post-1967 policies prohibited the employment of village labour on capitalist farms. This restriction was also abandoned in the eighties.

The third set of interventions affected product markets. The marketing role of the pre-1967 middleman was de-emphasized in favour of parastatal and cooperative marketing agents through crop confinement policies and various administrative measures. The government set producer and consumer prices and provided subsidies for production inputs and consumer goods till 1984.

As a result of these state interventions and the counter-reactions by various affected groups (which eventually led to liberalization policies in the eighties), the inherited structure of the economy changed substantially. The state sector became dominant in the economy especially in the industrial and services sectors. The state was the employer of over 75 percent of the wage earners in these sectors. Of more direct relevance to nutrition are the outcomes of state interventions in the agricultural sector. Five distinct farming systems now exist in rural Tanzania, each struggling for survival or dominance. Their fortunes have varied with the macro-policies of the party and state during different periods (URT 1982b; Mushi and Jackson 1990:11-12). We shall review them briefly.

First there are the socialist ujamaa farms established during the voluntary villagization phase, 1967-73 and which received lots of free state inputs. The assumption was that the socialist village governments would generate adequate funds from joint production to be able to look after village welfare and nutritional needs of the young, the aged and the disabled (Nyerere 1967b). Partly because of the dwindling state support thereafter, the ujamaa mode of production has now shrunk to less than 5 percent of the 8,000 registered villages on Mainland Tanzania. This means that nutritional programmes can no longer assume the existence of socialist organization at the village level since non-socialist actors have gained in importance.

Second, there are smallholder farms which constitute about 90 percent of the total farming area and produce about 95 percent of the drought-resistant staples, 85 percent of the maize and 50 percent of the rice. They thus provide the biggest source of foodstuffs and nutrients for the biggest number of the population. The farms are of two kinds: first, the homestead farms around the family at the village, estimated at 0.5 hectares per farm, usually devoted to vegetables, fruits and other non-staple foods, according to taste; and second, the block farms which are large land areas subdivided into individual family plots estimated at one to two hectares per farm. These produce food and cash crops.

Third, there are public commercial farms which include (1) state farms and ranches; farms of parastatal organizations (under Ministries of Agriculture, Livestock, Natural Resources) which are responsible for seed production (e.g. TANSEED Company) or respective cash crops, livestock or fisheries; (3) farms owned by the army, prisons, district and town councils; and (4) farms owned by such public bodies as the Party (via its company, SUKITA), women organization (UWT), workers’ organization (JUWATA, now OTTU) and youth organization (VIJANA). Up to the mid-eighties the parastatal sector dominated in the local supply of some of the most preferred staples. For example it provided 95 percent of the wheat, 85 percent of the sugar and 50 percent of the rice. The liberalization policies (starting 1984) have continued to change this state dominance. For example the National Food Strategy (URT 1984a:78), which projected food nutritional needs to the year 2,000 de-emphasized the role that will be played by public institutions. It states: ‘Almost all (of the public institutions) have an inadequate capital structure and suffer from insufficient or worn-out equipment. Their future role has been very carefully assessed; expansion and further development will be limited by the capacity of the nation to provide trained and experienced management, technical personnel and sufficient capital. They will be required to operate on commercial lines. Similarly, only a relatively small expansion is envisaged for state ranches; the primary aim will be toward private management in livestock production.’ Furthermore, most of the state corporations involved in agriculture production make big losses (URT 1984a:40; MDB 1988:45).

Fourth, there are the private commercial farms. These comprise medium and large-scale farms owned by nationals and foreigners. Although most of these are engaged mainly in production of export crops (coffee, sisal, tobacco, tea, etc), a few mixed farms also exist, producing about 15 percent of the maize, 5 percent of wheat and 5 percent of the drought resistant staples. Given the current liberalization/privatization policies and inclinations of the state, this sector will certainly make a bigger contribution in the future. The government now views these private farms as the dynamic force behind exports to earn badly needed foreign exchange: ‘so that they can contribute effectively to increasing production and exports, they will be treated in the same way as publicly owned enterprises as far as foreign currency requirements are concerned.’ These farms are also diverting state attention away from the smallholder who enjoyed special attention until the early eighties. For example, although policy states that “village boundaries and those of large and medium-scale commercial farms will be given priority in being surveyed and mapped” (URT 1984a:78-79), in practice villages have received secondary consideration and many complaints have continued to be received by the Ministry responsible for Lands. Indeed, the net result of the macroeconomic policies based on the Economic Recovery Programme (ERP 1986-89) have worked against the smallholder and in favour of the private commercial farmer who is also in a better position to attract the available agricultural services.

Finally, there are joint public-private farms. These represent a recent development and the Government intends to expand them. They are valued partly because ‘they can be of particular benefit where one partner is able to provide an initial investment of foreign currency or a particular expertise is being introduced for the first time’ (URT 1984a:78). A good example is the Korea-Tanzania Company (KOTACO) currently producing rice and other staples in Morogoro region.

Some disturbing features of the economy

State intervention brought about significant changes in the structure of the economy. Pertinent to nutrition was the growth of the share of services in the GDP which increased from 35 percent in 1961 to 50 percent in 1985 before declining to 43 percent in 1988. This was in line with the post-Arusha policies which emphasized development of human resources through education, health, water and related services. However, the economy shows many disturbing features which cast doubt on its ability to support these services. These include low growth rate, low labour productivity, low resource mobilization capacity, high external dependency and an underdeveloped private sector.

The rate of growth in GDP terms declined from an average of 5-6 percent in the 1960’s to an average of 4 percent during the 1970’s and then to a perilous level of one percent in the 1980-85 period. This decline grossly affected income per capita and the provision of social services because the rate of population growth was 2.8 percent per year. This situation forced the Government to accept the IMF/World Bank recommendations for a Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) in 1982 and an Economic Recovery Programme (ERP) in 1986 after several years of wrangling and failure of the Party’s own recovery programme (National Economic Survival Programme, NESP, 1981). The ERP years saw some recovery in the GDP growth: 3.6 percent in 1986; 3.9 percent in 1987 and 4.1 percent in 1988 (URT 1988).

Labour productivity declined in virtually all sectors. The decline resulted from many sources: under-capitalization, failure in water and power supply, over-employment, under-utilization of available capacity (generally less than 50 percent), inadequate incentives, mismanagement, embezzlement of funds, etc. Among the worst cases was the manufacturing sector whose labour productivity declined by an average of 2.9 percent during the 1965-75 decade and 3.9 percent during 1975-85 decade.

Resource mobilization capacity, through taxation, has remained low. Tax-GDP ratio averaged 20 percent during the 1978-88 decade, but could have doubled with more effective tax management. In nominal terms, tax revenue grew steadily from Tshs. 5.5 billion in 1977/78 to Tshs. 43.0 billion in 1987/88. However, not all taxes grew at the same rate. Taxes on income, property and import duties were slower than those on goods and services (indirect taxes) which grew the fastest (Osoro 1990: 53-56), contributing over 60 percent to the total tax revenue (Due and Meyer 1989:62). This dependence on indirect taxes (on consumption goods and services) rather than direct taxes (on income and property) tends to protect the rich while penalizing the poor. There have been efforts to make taxes on wage income progressive, but in recent times this has ceased to have an equalizing effect since those in higher income brackets have non-salary ways of getting untaxable incomes which are several times higher than their official pay.

The other taxes have faced various problems of administration. Import, excise and sales taxes have been passed over to consumers in the absence of effective enforcement mechanisms, and they are undervalued by customs officials in collusion with unscrupulous businessmen. In 1989/90, for example, the Government suffered a loss of Tshs. 37 billion in these sources due to shoddy deals which disregarded tax rules. Export tax started going down since the “export drive” policies introduced in the mid-seventies, and further enforced by the liberalization policies of the mid-eighties. Currently it accounts for less than 3 percent of total tax revenue. Despite the country’s egalitarian policies, no adequate effort has been made to subject property to taxation; for example it is only now that urban and rural authorities are considering it as a potential source of revenue.

Dependency has remained high and growing despite efforts to change the structure of the economy. Apparent “successes” can be claimed in the change of the composition of imports which has somewhat shifted from consumer goods to intermediate production inputs and capital goods, indicating that the import substitution industrialization strategy has had some effects (Wangwe 1983, 1988, 1990). The claim is supported by the fact that whereas only 30 percent of the total supplies of manufactured goods were produced locally in 1961, the figure had risen to 60 percent by 1985 (Silver 1984; World Bank 1987; SADCC 1988). However, the import substitution strategy has made local production more import-reliant, and during the ERP years in particular, such production has depended heavily on import support. The share of aid in the country’s development has been increasing despite the policy of self-reliance. Thus external dependence of the government budget rose from an average of 36 percent in the 1962-69 period, 47 percent during 1975-80 period to around 50-60 percent during the ERP years (1986-1991). Ironically, during this “recovery” period a large part of recurrent costs (including salaries) was being met by external funds.

The economic shocks of the 1970’s triggered by rises in oil prices and internal calamities were partly responsible for the demand for massive external aid in Tanzania. The 1974 four fold increase in the world market price of oil raised the cost of imports and by 1976, the cost of oil imports alone was 900 million Tshs. enough to nearly exhaust all reserves Tanzania had in 1973. Because of the severe drought of 1973-75, grain production was reduced and the imports of cereals rose from 12,000 tons in 1972 to 521,000 tons in 1975. The increase in food imports was of greater significance than the rising oil prices. To make things worse there was a four fold increase in the world market grain prices. In addition starting 1975, both the prices and quantities of the export crops declined while the price of all imports increased. Almost overnight the terms of trade were dramatically changed and has continued to get worse since then.

The increased import bill had a dramatic impact on the balance of payments. By December 1974 there was a negative balance of Tshs. 87 million and the first drawings on the facilities of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) of Tshs. 423 million were made. The nutrition related Government’s response was a strategic package aimed at:- (1) increasing retail prices of both agricultural and basic foods; (2) increasing minimum wage by 40 percent;(3) budgeting of foreign exchange and credit; (4) limiting expansion of free social services to adult and primary education, rural health services and agricultural extension; and (5) strong mobilization of external finance.

These were backed up by food sufficiency campaigns and programmes like the World Bank financed National Maize programme (1974-76); the “Kilimo cha kufa na kupona” (Agriculture as a matter of life and death) campaign (1973-74) and the “Chakula ni Uhai” (Food is Life) campaign. It is also significant to note that it was at this time (November 1973) that the Tanzania Food and Nutrition Centre (TFNC) was formed and the national Maternal and Child Health (MCH) programme was started.

The cost of those shocks to the government has been estimated at US$ 1,743 million, including some US$ 630 million to meet oil bills, US$ 500 million for the war against Amin of Uganda, $ 423 million for food imports due to droughts and floods and $200 million for building the country’s own transport and communication infrastructure following the breakup of the East-African Community. Considering that the total value of exports at the end of the seventies was only about $ 500 million annually, it is clear that the country had to resort to external borrowing, thereby swelling the external debt (Wagao 1990; URT_UNICEF 1990:6).

External debt is currently threatening economic recovery and the welfare of the people in general. Tanzania’s external liabilities increased rapidly in the seventies and eighties, reaching US$ 4.2 billion in 1986 and over $5 billion by 1989. As a proportion of the GNP, total long-term debt disbursed and outstanding increased from 42 percent in 1976 to 59 percent in 1984, and further to 165 percent in 1988. Debt service increased from 6 percent in 1976 to 20 percent during the 1985-88 period. Actual figures of debt service are substantial for the country’s economy. In 1988, for example, they were US$ 309 million before rescheduling and $222 million after rescheduling. Interest service payments rose from about 2 percent in 1976 to over 10 percent in 1987 (Lyakurwa 1990:43-46). Scheduled debt and interest service repayments were among the mandatory conditionalities in the ERP package. Thus Tanzania had to pay US$ 460 million at the start of the programme in 1986 compared with her export earnings of under $400 million that year. As a proportion of the government budget, National budget Servicing has been high, between a quarter and a third of the budget between 1986 and 1991. In 1986/87 it accounted for 25 percent; 31 percent in 1987/88; 30 percent in 1988/89; down to 25 percent in 1989/90 and up to 30 percent in 1990/91. Such a burden, even with rescheduling, has ironically meant sacrificing a substantial component of recovery, especially in the social service sector, in order to meet the conditionalities of recovery.

Unless these external obligations are written off it is difficult to see how the government can continue to support nutritional and social welfare programmes. The rate at which interest on loans accumulates is clear evidence that the government cannot get out of the aid trap. For example, interest on external debt arrears rose from US$ 4 million in 1980 to $ 183 million in 1985 just before the big money (over $ 700 million for 1986-88) was allocated for ERP. At this rate of accumulation, the state will reach a point where it borrows in order to pay debts rather than to invest in the recovery programme. At the end of ERP1 (1986-89), the government admitted its inability to meet the cost of the essential services and welfare programmes for the poor members of society was constrained by its purse and aid conditionalities. It, therefore, invited the private sector to make a contribution. The predicament is that the indigenous private sector is still under-developed while the more developed migrant Asian sector operates underground and is externally oriented. (The Asian community in Tanzania hardly invests in rural development or service projects. It is engaged in urban-based commercial and (light) industrial activities. It acts as a link between Tanzania and external commercial/industrial magnates, and has been a vehicle for resource transfer abroad through legal and illegal import-export activities and smuggling of foreign currency and valuable natural resources, especially minerals and ivory. It has gained most from the country’s liberalization policies, especially from the “own fund” import scheme and the Open General Licence (OGL). It has developed its own underground financial institutions (‘banks’ and credit systems) to avoid the bureaucratism of the official ones, and to facilitate shoddy deals).

Liberalization and Privatization

The decision to nationalise the “commanding heights of the economy” in 1967 increased the role of the state economy, and until the mid-eighties the economy depended on what Kornai (1986) described as “bureaucratic coordination” as opposed to “market coordination”. Bureaucratic coordination is a vertical relationship within an institutionalized multi-level hierarchy. The state bureaucracy is the chief allocator of resources using administrative coercion, and subordinates are financially dependent on the superiors. On the other hand, market coordination is a horizontal non-hierarchial relationship using the price mechanism, with motivation being based on financial gain (Eriksson 1991).

Emphasis on bureaucratic coordination led to several distortions in the economy. First it led to gross distortions in institutional behaviour and pattern of resource allocation. Second, it made the economy uncompetitive and essentially a seller’s market defined and controlled by the state bureaucracy. Third, there was no proper definition of the economic space for the private sector. These operated semi-illegally, draining resources from the state economic bureaucracies, and by the end of the seventies a thriving informal sector styled “the second economy” had entrenched itself. The estimated value of the second economy during the 1979-86 period was 21-31 percent of official GNP, then settling about 22 percent during the 1986-88 period as the official economy picked up following trade liberalization and the release of ERP funds (Maliyamkono and Bagachwa 1990; Bagachwa 1989 and 1990; Kiondo 1990).

The second economy was mainly a response to the scarcities of basic consumer items, fuel and staple foods which had become widespread leading to extensive government controls, with essential goods rationed through special permits. Income generating activities called “miradi” became a key feature to survival in different parts of the country. The urban high and middle classes ended up tending gardens and raising chickens or cows in their residential areas to be able to get extra incomes. Small businesses by women were often the major source of income to purchase the rationed food. In rural areas, where the crisis was not as great, poor peasants suffered the most as they had to hire themselves to the wealthy farmers as labourers. Public sector employees found that they had to request for additional favours in order to make ends meet. Free social services started to be charged by the service providers. The country’s social accomplishments eroded rapidly as national interests were gradually shaken by the desire for individual and household survival. The anti-economic sabotage battles which started in 1983 represented struggles between the two economies or between bureaucratic coordination which empowered the elite, and the market coordination favoured by private entrepreneurs, IMF, IBRD and most western donors.

The struggles initially led to stronger bureaucratic coordination with nation-wide controls concentrating government efforts on distribution leading into a further decline in production and a cumulative growth in smuggling, racketeering, corruption and “black markets” from which the nation is yet to recover. The struggles and the resulting liberalization and privatization policies resolved the conflict in favour of market coordination. The main pointers to this conclusion include the following:-

a) imports were deregulated under the “own fund” import scheme introduced in 1984/85. The response to this confirmed that private people had exported substantial amount of foreign exchange to overseas banks through the second economy. For example between July 1984 and December 1985, the value of licences issued to imports of consumer goods through this scheme amounted to 57 percent of the total value of licences issued for consumer imports, and about 30 percent of all the import licences issued was under this scheme (Ndulu 1987). By 1986 the value of the “own fund” imports was estimated at US$ 250 million or 27 percent of total imports and over 70 percent of recorded official exports (Maliyamkono and Bagachwa 1990).

b) The export drive started in 1976 following the economic shocks of the seventies was further encouraged after liberalization policies of 1984. An export retention scheme was introduced so that the private entrepreneurs who exported no-traditional products could retain part of their earnings in foreign exchange. This incentive led to the export of all sorts of products, including rare woods and birds. Uncontrolled, this may lead to the depletion of rare species.

c) An Open General Licence (OGL) facility was introduced in 1988. This enabled importers of specified goods to receive foreign exchange automatically against their local currency. This facility has filled the shops (especially in urban areas) with an impressive assortment of consumer goods, but two snags exist. First, with the decontrolled prices, the goods are not affordable to the poor households. Second the facility seems to benefit the externally oriented Asian business community more than the up-coming indigenous commercial class, thereby creating tensions between the two. Presently, there are strong calls for indigenization of the economy and the Asians have been called upon to integrate and operate more transparently.

d) State subsidies to urban consumers (maize flour) and rural producers (farming inputs) were scrapped in 1984. This was followed up by a policy of reducing subsidies to ailing state corporations and proposed sale of those which had proved to be beyond repair.

e) During 1991, the Party National Executive Committee (NEC) made a resolution which permitted the workers and Party members to acquire shares in state and private firms. However, todate no guidelines have been issued to that effect, and it remains unclear as to how poorly paid workers can “buy” shares in these firms.

d) There has been a clear switch of preference from communal/cooperative entrepreneurs and farmers to private ones as far as credit and extension services are concerned. With regard to the farming communities, the ujamaa mode of production had already been weakened by the “new” agricultural policy of 1983 which, among other things, permitted private large scale farmers to acquire long-term lease of agricultural land, and these have continued to encroach on village land with tacit support of the state bureaucracy.

e) In 1990 the Parliament enacted an Investment Code which defined more clearly the economic space for private entrepreneurs, both local and foreign, and provided liberal incentives. An Investment Promotion Centre (IPC) was also established to administer the code and to facilitate would-be investors. A major criticism of the Code and the Centre is that they have focused more on the attraction of external capital than on the creation of an indigenous capitalist class. Like the OGL, it may also end up benefiting the Asian commercial class more than the infant African commercial elite. Laws permitting private banking and liberalization of foreign exchange were passed during 1991/92. Already the National Bank of Commerce and several private Bureau-De-Change have started operating. Two international banks, the Standard Chartered Bank and Meridian were expected to start business in April, 1993.

h) Economic liberalization has also led to pressure for political liberalization, and the ruling Party, CCM, has been compelled to take measures in that direction. One measure has been the reduction of party control over civil institutions such as worker’s unions and peasants’ cooperatives. A second measure was the dissolution of Party branches at places of work. The third was the adoption of a multiparty system. This ended the monoparty system legislated and embodied in the Constitution since 1965. Multi-partysm became effective in Tanzania on July 1st 1992. By April 1993, eleven political parties including CCM had been given permanent registration.

Despite all these changes, the economy still remains mixed, with both bureaucratic and market coordination. On balance, however, administrative controls still dominate over market forces as far as resource allocation is concerned, and the state remains the employer of the majority of the labour force.

The impact of structural adjustment

By mid-1993 Tanzania would have concluded seven years of economic stabilisation and adjustment efforts with the IMF, the World Bank and bilateral donor support and in some ways lived through nine years of a number of transitional measures of partial liberalisation of foreign and internal trade introduced first in the budget of 1984.

During the early 1980s, afraid of possible negative social effects of adjustment, the Tanzanian government of former President Nyerere, resisted strong pressure exerted by the IMF/IBRD to implement a stabilisation and/or structural adjustment programme. Instead, the government designed two “home grown” programmes to come out of the economic crisis. The first was the “National Economic Survival Programme (NESP)” in 1981 which aimed at increasing industrial output, attaining food self-sufficiency and rehabilitation of the export sector. However, the programme collapsed in one year because it was partly ill-conceived and implemented but mainly because it did not receive backing from the IMF/IBRD. In 1982-85, the NESP was replaced by the second “home grown” programme, a structural adjustment programme (SAP) which was designed with the support of the World Bank sponsored Tanzania Advisory Group. Although both “home grown” programmes contained elements favourable to the IMF/IBRD position, they were nevertheless considered inadequate to enlist support from these institutions. Lacking this support, and because international and bilateral donors suspended or cancelled their aid programmes, the economy further slipped into a foreign exchange crisis forcing the government to accept the IMF/IBRD stance.

With the new government of President Mwinyi taking office in 1985, a combined government and World Bank Consultative Group formulated the first three year Economic Recovery Programme (ERP1) in 1986 followed by a second three year Economic Recovery Programme (ERP2) incorporating a Priority Social Action Programme (PSAP) in 1989. This in effect, smoothened the unevenness and hesitation which characterized the extent and direction of economic and political structural changes during the early 1980s with a consensus emerging in favour of a market economy and political pluralism. The necessary legal adjustments have already been made to accommodate these changes. Despite the recent threats to peace by an Islamic fundamentalist group, Tanzania seems to have gone through very fundamental and thorough economic and political changes peacefully without substantial political resistance. Most intriguing, is that these fundamental changes have been brought about, albeit with some pressure, by the same leaders who used to advocate for state control of the economy and the supremacy of the single party. Historians, political scientists and economists will find the 1985-1995 decade an exciting period to carry out research and draw lessons for the future.

The Government’s implementation of institutional changes for economic and political deregulation will take time to be completed and their full impact to be felt. The social and economic impact seem to be mixed. Preliminary impressions indicate a disturbing growing economic and political polarization because the adjustments have imposed severe costs on some and generated apparent benefits to others. Many poor people have found it difficult to take advantage of the freed market and do things which just some few months previously carried prison sentences. As a result some poor people have become poorer because of the devaluations which were not matched by increase in incomes.

Economic impact

By any standards, Tanzania’s economic recovery programme can be termed a modest success [Economic Research Bureau and Planning Commission, 1990]. Over the period 1984-89, real growth in GDP averaged 3.6 percent per annum compared to a population growth of 2.8 percent. Official statistics show that the economy grew from 0.3 percent in 1984 to 4.4 percent in 1989 declining to 4.2 percent in 1990 less than the ERP’s projection of 5.0 percent; but enough to impress any economist. This growth may be an underestimate as the official statistics do not include the “second economy” and in view of the rapid expansion of unrecorded economic activities during these years. The additional value of the “second economy” which is not reflected in the official statistics, and includes the value of illegal trade was estimated to be between 21 and 31 per cent of official GNP between 1979 and 1986 increasing over time [Bagachwa, 1990]. In 1988 the estimate was 22 percent of the GNP a reduction attributed to the picking up of the official economy [Bagwacha, 1990]. This is in sharp contrast to the growth in the early 1980s which on average was negative.

However, the improved performance of the economy remained crucially dependent on aid flows and a spectacular increase in both export earnings and government revenues is needed in order to extricate the country from the large external and fiscal deficits. Moreover, the current economic international developments are not favourable for Tanzania. The state of the world coffee market is poor; oil prices are still escalating; and the sluggish growth in the major industrial economies provide a poor external environment. Also the collapse of the Soviet Union and other events in Eastern Europe has generated substantial competing claims for limited international financial resources.

Overall, there has been an impressive statistical economic growth, with a spectacular improvement in the availability of essential goods and commodities. However, there have also been winners and losers resulting in an economic polarization, eroding the equity policies and programmes of the 1960s and 1970s. While the economic reforms resulted in spectacular increases in the prices of food and other goods, for the majority of people real incomes have been declining reducing their access to the essential goods and services.

The immediate major benefactors of the good economic growth have been those entrepreneurs who are in a position to take advantage of the reforms. Such entrepreneurs have been those able to mobilize investments, foreign exchange and who can put cash cover for imports. As earlier noted because of historical reasons such entrepreneurs have been the externally oriented Asians and a few indigenous Africans creating both economic and social tensions which have become publicly manifest for the first time since the nationalization wave of the late 1960s. Both the African entrepreneurs and some political parties are accusing the Asians of causing external capital flight and marginalizing the Africans through corruption and social isolation. The Asians blame this situation on the Africans who wield political power and use it corruptly by accepting bribes. While this indigenization debate is good in bringing up submerged tensions under the one-party system, the racial overtones that it sometimes carries is a cause for alarm. It is hoped that the debate, will end in a balanced peaceful economic and social co-existence which has been a source of pride for Tanzania in the thirty two years of independence.

The SAP also resulted into an economic polarization between the business section on one hand and the workers and peasants on the other with the poor becoming even poorer. In addition considerable time lag may occur between the reforms themselves and their impact in the rural areas especially for Tanzania’s “uncaptured peasantry”. For example studies show that there was a substantial time lag between the macro-price policies and their impact at the micro-level in terms of effective incentives to producers [TARDEG, 1991]. As a result agricultural production was not stimulated to the extent expected. The mainly political sequencing and timing of the reforms alienated some of the groups from participation in the reform process turning some of them into potential enemies of further liberalisation. However, in the longer term improvements in transportation and communication infrastructure and in crop marketing institutions may be favourable to small farmers and other low income groups. Thus, in the short term, there is no question that deliberate policies and strategies in favour of the economically disadvantaged groups will need to be pursued to ensure that they are not left behind in improved access to agricultural inputs and technologies; and to social services. A larger social “safety net” than that encompassed in the Priority Social Action Programme (PSAP) would need to be made in order to adequately capture the most socio-economically vulnerable groups.

Social impact

Government hesitancy to fully implement cost sharing in the social services is indicative of such fears. This can be understood for a government which has largely built its credibility on the provision of “user free” social services. A mental and behavioural adjustment is also needed. There is also a growing concern about increases in the number of people who are unemployed partly because of both a freeze in employment and pruning of workers in the public sector which remains the major employment sector. The structural adjustment programme undoubtedly further compounded existing problems of unemployment, underemployment and overall poor utilisation of human resources. Faulty human resource development and utilisation policies have played their part in making the search for solutions more difficult.

The transitory negative effects of the reforms on food accessibility can be seen from the continued rise in both the general consumer and food price indices. During the early 1980s the consumer price index rose by more than 30 percent until 1989 when the annual rise declined to 26 percent [Doriye, 1990] negating any benefits which might have arisen from increases in producer prices, wages and salaries. This affected negatively economic access to food. Until 1990, when a decline started to be noted the food price index was fluctuating at a higher level than the general national consumer price index (NCPI).

Extended family system safety nets are breaking down and the stress on the capacity of the traditional caring systems brought about by the emergence of AIDS has led to the emergence of the new phenomenon of “street children”. Public health care systems have continued to deteriorate rapidly with private care and health supplies emerging mainly in urban areas just as fast to save the situation but only for those who can afford.

The “egg and chicken” analogy with respect to structural adjustment and social deterioration is pertinent. While it is common to put the blame on the adjustment, we have no information on any developing country which has started a structural adjustment programme before a substantial deterioration of the economy and social services has taken place. If the primary structure is to be adjusted, certain secondary structures would have to suffer temporary demolition before being rebuilt. Or as President Mwinyi has responded to this issue “the pill is bitter, but if we have to cure the malaria we must take the chloroquine. The bitterness is temporary, but if we do not take the pill or we take it at a low dose, we shall die of the malaria.” We would want to believe that the negative effects are transitory and that the social dimension of adjustment programmes will be able to respond adequately to these negative trends in the long run.

Pattern in sectoral resource allocation

Institutional behaviour
Resource Allocation

The pattern of resource allocation is the third set of cluster of variables affecting nutrition directly. How much is allocated to nutrition programmes will depend not only on policies or economic status, but also on institutional behaviour. Thus the pattern of resource allocation is also an indicator of the values and priorities of decision makers on policies relevant to nutrition. We shall, therefore, briefly discuss the current behaviour of Tanzania’s institutions which, we believe, distorts formal policies, the economy and the pattern of resource allocation.

Institutional behaviour

A historical analysis of institutional behaviour in Tanzania indicate dual values held by the state [Mushi and Baregu, 1990 and Mushi, 1989]. One is the need for the central leadership to widen its “political space” for effective control of national activities. The second is the need to also widen the “political space” of local communities for purposes of empowerment and participation. Thus the growth and behaviour of institutions in Tanzania reflect the complementarity or conflicts in the implementation of policies or strategies meant to achieve these two values. Generally, there has been a tendency to form new agencies or formulate new policies in an attempt to manage the challenges of development including the improvement of the nutrition situation. At the same time there has been a tendency to shift from institutions of community control to institutions of central control including the re-centralization of whole ministries as a response to problems related to decentralization. Thus a paradoxical situation has arisen whereby while political pronouncements, policies and strategies clearly stress community empowerment and decentralization of power and resources, policy and decision makers have a centralist behaviour in practice. The low budgetary allocation to sub-national institutions described later is the strongest pointer to the centralist control behaviour.

During the first six years after independence the main institutional behaviour was related to preoccupations with state building and decolonization of inherited institutions. The racially based tripartite system of social service delivery was abolished. Likewise the tribal “native” authorities responsible for local social services like primary education and medical care were abolished and replaced by district councils. In order to organize and mobilize local effort village and ward development committees were established and were responsible for the work of the Community Development Programme which resulted in a peak self-help activities in the mid-sixties.

These institutional reforms were consolidated and further widened following the Arusha Declaration of 1967. The Declaration placed emphasis on socialism and self reliance and saw the rural areas and the agricultural sector as the major starting point with people’s efforts as the primary inputs. Collectivisation of rural communities and decentralization with the twin objectives of community empowerment and development; and social services delivery were the main institutional features between 1967 and 1975. Examples of community empowerment and development include the introduction of the Rural development fund (RDF) in 1967; the appointment of Zonal Economic secretaries to undertake zonal planning in 1968 and the introduction of annual regional planning as part of the annual national planning in 1971/72. Other examples include introduction of workers participation through workers councils by a Presidential directive in 1970; the 1971 “Mwongozo” (TANU guidelines) which upheld peoples rights to make decisions relating to their own development and welfare; the decentralization reform of 1972 which delegated planning authority to the regions and districts and given a growing share of the available national resources; and the Village and Ujamaa Villages Act of 1975 which created village governments with authority to raise revenue locally and plan their own development. With regard to social services delivery, the Arusha declaration itself emphasized villagization to enable efficient provision of social services. This was followed up by the 1973 Party directive on free and equitable distribution of rural water, education and health.

In adjusting to the economic decline of the last half of the 1970s the government and the Party shifted their emphasis from institutions of community empowerment to institutions of central control. As a result long established grassroots institutions were weakened or altogether abolished. For example the peasant interactive Cooperative Unions were abolished in 1976 and replaced by centrally based Marketing Boards which were strengthened and renamed Crop Authorities. The crop authorities were only for cash crops and the marketing boards for food crops such as maize were abolished altogether. The formation of many industrial under-capitalized parastatals shifted the focus of Credit institutions from village governments and cooperatives and economically weak groups to the emerging commercial institutions.

At the same time the Party (TANU) adopted a policy of Supremacy in 1975 which ideologically was supposed to empower the people but which in reality killed grassroots democracy and initiatives and facilitated top-down governance. According to the policy of Party Supremacy, the Government including the Constitution was subservient to the Party and the Party was supreme in all national matters. This was reinforced by the 1981 CCM guidelines (Mwongozo wa CCM). The introduction of multipartysm in 1992 abolished the concept of Party Supremacy.

As the economic decline of the 1970s deepened into the economic crisis of the 1980s the Government’s policy-institutional changes in summary reverted to that which existed during the first five years after independence. Between 1982 and 1984, Local Government and Cooperative Unions were re-introduced and crop authorities were reformulated with some reverting to marketing boards. From 1984 todate (1993) a process of “shedding off” responsibility to grassroots institutions has been taking place with less government and Party control of both the economics and politics. These frequent changes in national institutional behaviour results into response complacency by the rural communities and may be a reason why rural life in Tanzania remains to a very large extent unaffected by changes in institutional behaviour.

One outcome of the use of bureaucratic coordination of the economy has been what some people have described as “soft budget” constraints, defined as lack of strict financial discipline on the part of public institutions and the state generally. Budget restraints exist in the books, but in practice, they are not strictly binding and can be “stretched” at the will of higher authorities. As Kornai (1979:806-808) put it in connection with his Hungarian studies: “The paternalistic state guarantees automatically the survival of the firm.” Studies in Tanzania’s institutional behaviour (World Bank 1988; Hyden 1990; Moshi 1990; Ngowi 1990; Eriksson 1991) have attributed poor economic performance and resource allocation problems to the phenomenon of “soft budget” or “soft state”. We can summarize this softness in ten orientations and tendencies:

(1) Government subsidies are soft because they are negotiable and adjusted to cover cost overruns;

(2) Taxation is soft because it is subject to bargaining and political pressures; and fulfilment of tax obligations is not enforced strictly;

(3) Credit is soft because it is not based on evidence of good performance or security; it is used to bail out ailing state corporations and cooperative unions without any hope of repayment. This has been facilitated by the fact that all financial institutions are state-owned.

(4) Planning is soft because both the mechanism and the will to control its implementation are weak; and central allocation of planning resources to regions, districts and villages is discretionary, i.e. the proportion is not fixed by law and, therefore, varies from year to year depending on political calculations.

(5) Bureaucratically determined prices are soft because they are subject to pressures from producers and consumers, and are set on a cost-plus basis which encourages inefficiencies;

(6) Import support is soft because it is available even to institutions which cannot recover, and much of it is not subject to import taxes;

(7) Incentive packages are soft because they are in most cases not linked directly to performance; where linked, non-performance is not penalized or is not seen to be penalized.

(8) Financial discipline is soft because the mechanisms for enforcing it are either absent or ineffective, with the result that even “the distinction between recurrent and capital expenditures has become blurred, leading to many recurrent activities being supported in the guise of development projects” (World Bank 1989-9);

(9) Policies are soft because they do not always operate within the law; for example, the liberalization policy initiated in 1984 operated for several years before being sanctioned by a legal Investment Code (URT 1990) and legal protection of private property rights is still incomplete, creating uncertainties in the private sector;

(10) Recruitment of staff is soft because (a) for executive positions (e.g. in the public economic firms) is often based on political record (e.g. one’s standing in the Party) rather than on merit; (b) for junior staff, non-observance of recruitment regulations has led to overstaffed bureaucracies despite two reduction exercises (1976 and 1984).

Resource Allocation

These institutional tendencies and orientations affect the pattern of resource allocation directly. Available data indicate that budget allocation during the 1980’s tended to favour the sectors which can “bargain” effectively in the budgetary process - (1) the consolidated funds and other special expenditures; (2) central institutions; (3) administration, and (4) defence and security.

In the recurrent budgets of 1988/89 and 1989/90, for example, the State House-controlled consolidated funds and other special expenditures claimed 44 percent. This high proportion enables the highest authority of the “soft” state to exercise a great deal of discretion in resource allocation, and the funds help the regime to accumulate political capital. Such funds can be - and often have been - put into good use, including promotion of nutrition and other programmes for the poor. However, it means very little is left for allocation to regular programmes of other sectors. Allocation of the remainder in 1988/89 was 41 percent for ministries and only 21 percent for regions and local authorities. The corresponding figures for 1989/40 were 42 percent and 13 percent respectively (table 2).

This pattern shows a clear bias in favour of central institutions. The bias is even more pronounced in the development budget which in 1998/89 allocated nearly 90 percent to ministries and parastatals, leaving only 10 percent and 12 percent, respectively to grassroots institutions (table 2). When the Decentralization Reform was introduced in 1972, it was stated that about 40 percent of the Government Budget would go to or have impact in the regions each year, and more was expected after re-introduction of local authorities in 1983. However, direct budgetary allocations to the sub-national authorities (excluding central government subsidies to local councils and discretionary use of consolidated funds) has never been more than 15 percent.

Table 2: Allocation of Recurrent and Development Budgets, 1988/89 and 1989/90 Tshs. (millions)




Budgetary allocation

Tshs. (millions)


Tshs. (millions)














Local authorities






















Ministries & Parastatals





Regions & Local Authorities





1. Includes consolidated funds and special expenditures
2. Actual allocations
3. Estimated allocations
Source: URT 1990, table 18, p.59
Budgetary allocations to different government services and activities during the 1986/87-1990/91 period (ERP years) indicate several disturbing features (table 3).

First, average allocations to three activities - administration (22.6 percent), state security, including defence, police, prisons, national service and regime security (16.4 percent) and servicing the national debt (28.3 percent) - consumed 67.3 percent of the government budget. To this figure should be added not less than 10 percent “leakages” resulting from bureaucratic corruption, bringing the total to 77.3 percent.

This analysis would suggest that the amount going into actual “development” activities (e.g. purchase of equipment, tools and inputs; buildings and construction of essential physical infrastructure) would probably be no more than 20-30 percent. This is a thin Salamis indeed considering current prices of essential (mostly imported) development inputs.

Second, allocations to the basic social services have generally declined relative to the other sectors. Whereas allocation to education averaged 17 percent during the early seventies, it averaged only 6.3 percent during the 1986/87-1990/91 period, a decline of over 60 percent. Health allocations fell from an average of 7 percent to an average of 4.7 percent during the same period, a decline of about 33 percent.

Table 3: Budgetary Allocations to Different Government Services 1986/87-1990/91 (Percentages)





































Water and Sanitation






Other Social Services






Transport and communication (of which roads and bridges is)






Agriculture, fishing and forestry






National debt servicing






Mining, industry and construction


















1. Administrative costs include costs for foreign affairs (embassies, etc)

2. Security include police, prisons and state security.

3. Other social services include housing, community development, environmental sanitation, etc.

4. Transport and communications includes roads, bridges, sea and lake transport, and telecommunications.

5. Other services include financial and tourist services and provident fund payments.

Source: URT 1990, p.60 worked out from table 19.
Allocations to all the basic social services put together (i.e. education, health, housing, community development, environmental sanitation, etc) fell from an average of 25 percent in the seventies to an average of 14 percent during the ERP years, a decline of 44 percent. In comparison, defence allocations increased from 12 percent in the 1970s to 14 percent in 1986\87 being at par with all the social services put together. Since then, there seems to be an encouraging decline in defence spending. This means that the decline in allocations for nutrition-related services has not only been affected by dwindling state funds but also by changing policy priorities and institutional behaviour (considering particularly the hiking administrative shares elaborated below).

Third, ironically, allocations to administration has been increasing at a time when productivity has been declining in virtually all sectors. Its share in the GDP rose from a low of 6.6 percent in 1965 to 9.9 percent in 1975 and then skyrocketed to reach 21.6 percent in 1985. Moreover, a large share of the social services allocation has been consumed by administration “can really constitute the dynamic sector in the process of economic transformation and recovery” (e.g. Wangwe and Luvanga 1990:6).

Fourth, even though the IMF-sponsored ERP policies insisted on directly productive sectors and activities, the actual allocation pattern does not bear this out. For example, whereas administration and state security (including defence, police, prisons, etc) claimed nearly 40 percent of the budget, other sectors which are key to ‘recovery’ had relatively small allocations: agriculture, fishing and forestry (5.5 percent); mining industries and construction (2.6 percent), transport and communications (5.5 percent), of which roads and bridges had 3.1 percent water and electricity (2.1 percent). Scaling down the costs of administration and defence by about 50% could easily double allocations to these sectors and lead to some recovery. Such a decision, however, would require unavailable political stamina.

A disturbing feature in the relation of the central government and local authorities has been the growing dependency of the latter on the former for allocation of subsidies for their recurrent and development budgets. A recent survey of ten district council budgets on Mainland Tanzania (Semboja and Therkildsen 1991:17) showed that they depended on central government subsidies to a total of 81 percent of their total expenditure, 79 percent of recurrent expenditure and 93 percent of their development expenditure. What is even more disturbing is that the ten councils dependency ratio had been increasing with time; whereas they were able to raise up to 40 percent from their own sources in 1984/85, they could raise only 19 percent in 1987/88. The situation is worse for districts with poor local revenue sources. Since current policy does not provide for preferential grants to compensate for this their capacity to finance critical services has been running down fast with inflation.

Resource allocation within districts has also been problematic, especially between the district council and village governments. Village governments act as agent for the district council in collecting the Development Levy from their areas (using the ten-cell leaders). In return, they are allocated 20 percent of the collections (with 3 percent going to the ten cell leader and 17 percent to the village government development account). Villages complain that this share (which is sometimes delayed or even withheld) is inadequate for their development projects, let alone meeting the growing costs of operation and maintenance of the social services in their areas.

The current situation is such that all the three levels of government admit inability to sustain the services established with generous external funds during the seventies, and all are looking upwards for assistance; village councils to district councils; district councils to the central government, and the central government to external financiers whose response has been declining. It is in this context that policies of cost-sharing and various self-help funds and schemes (described later) arose.

Since the community management strategy adopted in Tanzania calls for decentralization of resources from the central government to the regions; from the regions to the district; from the district to the wards and from the wards to the villages; institutional adjustments in financial and technical manpower allocations need to be made. Already the central government has created or reshaped two ministries directly concerned with local development. The Ministries for Community Development, Women Affairs and Children and Regional Administration and Local Government were created in October 1990. The last mentioned ministry was later transformed to a department under the Prime Minister’s Office in 1991. These ministries are strengthening districts so that they can provide enough stimulus for village development. There are also indications that strengthened districts have started to reorient the district planning process from a “blue-print top down approach” to a “process bottom up approach.” This reorientation reinforces Tanzania’s participative planning approach which for a long time has remained a “theoretical goal.” There is also the need to increase the share of the development levy retained by the villages in order to enable the villages to maintain or expand their social services. Presently communities/villages perceive districts not as an institution for their development but as a state instrument of resource extraction. This negative perception of the district need to be corrected as the district will continue to be the most convenient point for the coordination of the implementation of various development policies and programme.

Institutional involvement in nutrition relevant actions

The Household as an institution
The village/community as an institution
Ward Level
Divisional Level
District Level
Regional Level
National Level
Popular and Non-Governmental Institutions
International Organizations and donor role in nutrition

Tanzania has elaborate institutions which support various aspects of development and nutrition programmes. The word institution is used in a wider sense encompassing families, households; formal and none formal community organisations and Government and Party administrative structures. Level-by-level institutional analysis will indicate the institutional potential that exists.

The Household as an institution

Households are the basic institutional units of nutrition related actions. The first contact with the individual’s outside world is the household; then the immediate neighbourhood followed by the village, ward, division, district and eventually higher levels. It is at the level of the household that malnutrition manifests; and it is the level at which the immediate causes of malnutrition are most apparent. Food supply, economic and social accessibility are more apparently determined at this level; so are the levels of caring capacity. The most immediate decisions with regard to nutrition are made at the household. Gender polarization and prejudices in favour of men are developed, entrenched and, therefore, most pronounced at this level. The effects of floods, drought, famine and other calamities is first felt at the household level. Even the economic and political reforms have their first impact at the level of the household. In the face of bombardment of the household by a number of various internal and external pressures, household coping mechanisms would justify a study on its own right.

At the same time the most effective nutrition related actions are done at the level of the household since for children households provide the resources and care needed to promote their survival and development. It is at the level of the household that all programmes are integrated. Community actions as done in the JNSP and CSD programmes have largely been effective because of household action. Children’s meal frequencies were increased; growth monitoring was followed by individual action at the household level; the use of germinated flour “power flour” (Kimea) in increasing energy density is practised at the household. Thus the most important institution as far as nutrition behavioral improvement is concerned is the household.

The village/community as an institution

In Tanzania groups of approximately ten households are organised within a “ten cell” structure with an elected “ten cell leader”. In the rural areas several ten cells are organised in villages. Villages were established under the local Government (District Authorities) Act no 7 of 1982 as a body corporate. The official organs include the village government consisting of an annual assembly of all adults and a popularly elected council of not more than 25 members. The council consists of three standing committees responsible for Finance, Planning and Economic Affairs and three other committees responsible for Social Services, Self-help activities and Defence or Security. In addition there are committees for services such as water, health, education, primary cooperative society, nutrition etc. Recently, most villages have also created cell committees to assist cell leaders in their social mobilizational and conflict resolution work. Other institutions include informal and traditional organizations and the village Party Branch which is fused with the village government through an elected Branch Chairman who is also the village chairman. The adoption of multi-partysm has led to changing this arrangement so that villages will be led by a government executive administrator rather than a Party chairman.

With this community-level network of formal and informal institutions, it should be possible to know by name any child, woman or household with or at risk of nutritional problems. The poor can also be easily identified. This information which is crucial for targeting purposes is supposed to be in the village register maintained by the Village Health Worker (VHW) under supervision of the Village Health Committee (VHC). The VHC is primarily responsible for primary health care. With training and support from trained Village Health Workers (VHW) the village health committee can monitor the growth of children and progress of pregnancies. Villages which have set up such monitoring systems have shown substantial improvements in the nutritional status of their children. This is because these villages have set up organised child feeding posts to provide additional feeding for young children with special attention to those who are malnourished. This model of affordable village based child care organisation systems are supported by self help contributions in kind or in cash. For example Village Government organised compensation for village health workers and self help construction of schools, trenches for water pipes health and other facilities are common in the CSD programme areas. Also in some cases it has been possible to follow-up parents of children who are malnourished, or who have not been fully immunized or recently weighed.

Experience so far indicates that the social impact of the operation of community groups and organizations can be monitored through the monitoring of children’s nutritional status if growth monitoring is adopted as a management tool for the group or organization [URT/UNICEF 1990]. There is evidence to indicate that the village based monitoring of nutritional status and the social concerns about nutrition it has created offers good prospects for further development of community based actions for wider developmental issues when proper training and managerial support is given. Extension staff, mass media and theatre groups should be assisted in the development of local communications like newsletters, wall papers, community theatre etc and these successes should be studied and documented and lessons learned should be adapted in other areas.

Ward Level

A ward is formed by several villages. The ward is much more functional than the higher division level. Most government extension staff are concentrated at the ward level which is led by an administrator called the Ward Secretary employed by the District Council. The Ward Secretary is the secretary to the Ward Development Committee (WDC) which comprises of all government extension staff, the village chairpersons and secretaries and councillors resident within the ward. The chairman of the WDC is elected from among the village chairmen and councillors. The WDC acts as a bridge leadership between the village government and higher levels. It is at the ward level that village plans are coordinated before being forwarded to the District Council. WDCs are responsible for the dissemination of information including nutrition relevant information to the village communities. The role of extension staff is mainly supportive, promotional and demonstrational. The quality of leadership at both the village and ward levels have been found to be crucial in the implementation of community based nutrition programmes.

Divisional Level

At the divisional level, there is a Divisional Secretary and a few sectoral extension staff. The Divisional Secretary is a central government agent responsible for law and order as well as security of the state at that level, but like the Regional and District Commissioners, he also performs political mobilizational and advocacy functions. Divisional and Ward Secretaries were key actors in the Iringa Nutrition Programme (JNSP) and were provided with transport facilities to perform advocacy functions. They have continued to play this role in areas where the Child Survival and Development (CSD) programmes have been introduced.

District Level

Under Tanzania’s decentralized government structure, districts are entrusted with all development programmes in the localities, except those which are undertaken directly by central or regional staff. They are responsible for delivering such basic services as primary and adult education, health, water and sanitation, community development services, and maintenance of district roads and bridges. They are also expected to coordinate the services rendered by NGOs and private individuals in their areas. Higher education and some aspects of health such as district and regional hospitals are the responsibility of the central government.

District Councils are popularly elected and have legal authority to raise revenue through taxes and other means. None of the councils has, however, been able to raise adequate revenue to cover all the services they are expected to provide, and the central government provides subventions each year. District-village links are partly achieved through the councillors who represent wards which consist of five to seven villages. Much of the district council’s work is done through its own committees which cover six functional areas: Finance and Planning; Establishment and Administration; Social Services; Education and Culture; Economic Services and Human Development. Although district nutrition policy, strategies and programmes are considered the responsibility of the Social Services Committee, minutes of the other committees confirm that they all handle nutrition-related issue. These are mediated at the meetings of the full council.

In each district there is also a District Development Committee (DDC) chaired by the District Commissioner (DC), consisting of officials and a few councillors; and a District Implementation Team (DIT) consisting of sectoral heads and chaired by the District Executive Director (DED). Special nutrition-related programmes such as the UNICEF-supported Child Survival and Development (CSD) or the Swedish International Development Authority (SIDA)-supported Health, Education, Sanitation and Water (HESAWA) have a coordination office and a coordinator who operates within the established institutional framework. In most cases, the coordinators have been community development officers who work under the supervision of the District Planning Officer. Although the District Commissioner’s official functions relate to law, order and state security matters, his mobilizational and advocacy work for nutrition related programmes has been significant in all districts.

Regional Level

There are no representative bodies at the regional level. Resource allocation functions are performed by official dominated Regional Development Committees (RDCs) chaired by the Regional Commissioner (RC). Implementation is overseen by a Regional Implementation Team (RIT) chaired by the Regional Development Director (RDD). Like districts, regions have been free to establish (non-statutory) special services committees or coordination offices for particular programmes (e.g. that of the Iringa JNSP or HESAWA in the Lake Regions). Earlier tendencies of these programme-specific bodies to operate outside the established regional or district institutional framework have now been brought under control. The regional institutional network is expected to provide expertise and other forms of support to the districts which, in turn, have to do the same for wards and villages.

At the district and regional levels, development plans and budget including nutrition related activities are discussed and approved. The process is extensive and involves Government and Party officials both elected and nominated including the respective members of Parliament. Technical and functional Government officers serve the committees. Led executively by the District and Regional Commissioners; and administratively by the District Executive and Regional Development Directors are 10 functional sectors. These are finance; planning; health; works (roads, buildings and mechanical); culture; natural resources (forestry, beekeeping and game); trade and weights and measures; lands (survey, valuation, and land administration); cooperatives and community development. The District and regional development committees (DDCs and RDCs) considers all development plans for the district involving local, central government and other external sources.

National Level

At the national level, there are many institutions whose policies and programmes have a direct or indirect impact on nutrition. Some ministries have focal points for nutrition related concerns. The Ministry of Health has the technical arm of the Tanzania Food and Nutrition Centre (TFNC) as a multidisciplinary autonomous institute created by an act of parliament in 1973, dealing with nutrition from a multi-sectoral perspective. Because of its multi-sectoral and multidisciplinary perspective, TFNC has largely succeeded in catalyzing nutrition action in many sectors.

In addition the Primary Health Care (PHC) programmes like the Institute of PHC based in Iringa, the Maternal and Child Health (MCH), family planning, Essential Drug Programme (EDP), Expanded Programme for Immunization (EPI), HIV/AIDS programme, Control of Diarrhoea Diseases (CDD), Acute Respiratory Infections (ARI) programmes, National Family Planning programme etc all have nutrition related components. Training of Rural Medical Aids, Medical Assistants, MCH-Aids and Nurses in the training institutes run by the Ministry of Health include nutrition in their curricula. There is also the National Food Control Commission (NFCC) which has been created by an act of parliament which is chaired by the Managing Director of TFNC.

The Ministry of Agriculture has separate units dealing with Food Security and Nutrition. The Ministry of Agriculture Training institutes (MAT) in Ilonga, Kilosa district and Uyole in Mbeya all teach food production, home economics and nutrition.

The Ministry of Education has included nutrition in the curricula of primary and secondary schools. The Ministry of Community Development, Women and Children promote the nutrition improvement of women and children. The Planning Commission in the Office of the President has a directorate of Social Services and coordinates programmes for child survival under the National Coordinating Committee for Child Survival and Development (NCC/CSD). Recently the Commission formulated a National Plan of Action (NPA) for implementing the goals adopted by the September 1990 World Summit for Children and the June, 1991 National Summit for Children. The University of Dar-Es-Salaam; the Muhimbili College of Health Sciences; and the Sokoine University of Agriculture all have institutes or departments carrying out nutrition relevant work. The Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS) under the Ministry of Industries formulates standards for food stuffs as well.

The administrative structure in mainland Tanzania is shown in figure 3. Apart from ministries, there are many parastatal institutions which are centrally based but operate locally through their branches or outreach programmes. Three categories of parastatals and national institutions are particularly relevant to nutrition:

First, there are the banks: the Central Bank (or Bank of Tanzania) which, among other things, determines loan ceilings, allocates foreign exchange and controls interest rates; the National Bank of Commerce (NBC) which provides commercial credit and seasonal financing to rural producers; the Cooperative and Rural Development Bank (CRDB) which meets the bulk of credit needs of the rural producers; the Tanzania Housing Bank (THB) which provides housing loans to urban and recently rural dwellers; and the Tanzania Industrial Bank (TIB) which provides medium and long-term credit to industries.

Second, there are a dozen or so crop authorities operating in the food sector: the National Milling Corporation (NMC) which handles procurement, importation, processing, storage and marketing of major staples, including maize, wheat and rice; the Tanzania Fertilizer Company (TFC) which is responsible for fertilizers; the Tanzania Seed Company (TANSEED) which is responsible for seed research, multiplication and supply; the National Agricultural and Food Company (NAFCO) which manages large-scale food farms; the Sugar Development Corporation (SUDECO) which is responsible for several sugar companies; several state-owned (cooking) oil processing companies; and several state ranches and fishing firms.

Third, there are the official cooperatives controlled by the government and the party. These are organized from a national apex, the Cooperative Union of Tanzania (CUT) which formulates cooperatives policy as well as marketing crops, secure credit and supply farming inputs to villages; to the village-based Primary Societies which collect crops from peasants for sale to the unions, and distribute inputs to the peasants. Recently (March, 1993),the CUT was disbanded by the government because it was disowned by primary societies, who according to a reformist Cooperative Union’s Act of 1992 are the ones which should form their own apex union. The CUT was a government imposition.

Fig 3: The administrative structure in Tanzania mainland (1991)

There are several other nationally based institutions which make a significant contribution to nutrition work. The most successful of this is the Tanzania Food and Nutrition Centre (TFNC) which is further described as annex to this report. Other institutions involved particularly in information and advocacy include Radio Tanzania, Party and State newspapers (national and zonal) and, recently, private newspapers. We will have a further word on these institutions when we turn to the role of information and advocacy in promoting nutrition programmes.

Popular and Non-Governmental Institutions

Popular and non-governmental institutions have also been active in initiating nutrition-relevant projects and programmes - especially the provision of basic social and economic services. These fall into three categories, namely (1) the formal cooperatives; (2) various self-help groups and funds, and (3) non-governmental organizations of various types.

Cooperative societies were abolished by a decision of the Government and Party in 1976, but were re-established in 1984. By May 1990, some 26 regional cooperative unions and 1616 community based cooperative societies and over 4,000 cooperative groups had been registered.

There are a lot more unregistered cooperating groups which operate informally in the villages. Most of these belong to youth and women who are supported by special “soft-loan” funds. These funds have enabled groups of youths, women and poor people to engage in productive activities. These groups contribution to nutrition-related services.

The “official” cooperatives have had many problems in delivering social and economic services to the villages, both before their abolition in 1976 and after their re-establishment in 1984. The main problems include lack of autonomy from party and government. However, several measures have been taken recently to improve performance of the formal and informal Cooperatives. First, a Cooperative supervision corporation (COASCO) has been established to ensure regular auditing of the societies and unions. Second, in 1991 the 1984 cooperatives laws was amended to give the cooperatives more autonomy from the state and the Partly as well as to permit formation/registration of other cooperative groups (e.g. of women) at the village level. Third, to support the village-based cooperatives of small groups, a Prime Minister’s Fund for Self Reliance was established in 1990/91 financial year. The fund will extend assistance in the form of materials and equipment to community-based projects. Other sources which could be tapped for this purpose include the Presidential fund for Self-Reliance and the Community Development Trust Fund.

In addition to these central funds, many districts and villages have recently established their social services funds, largely in response to the failure of the state to continue servicing the huge infrastructure established in the seventies. Most widespread have been (trust) funds for education, health and water, in some cases at both district and village levels. The trust funds at the district level are supported by a council bye-law which sanctions the levying of special rates and soliciting contributions for a particular service.

At the village level, three types of funds have emerged. The first is the service fund (for water health or education) levied and managed by the village government. The second category includes all sorts of mutual help funds of small groups. Members can borrow from such funds to solve problems of all sorts - e.g. cost of hospitalization, burials, wedding ceremonies, school fees, etc. This practice has also spread to the urban areas where women have relied on each other for credit in “upatu” systems in which each member of a mutual help group contributions. The third - a recent development - includes funds collected by well-placed urban workers for the purpose of developing their “home” villages. Emphasis so far has been on building dispensaries, secondary schools, village roads and bridges. This positive response from the “grassroots” supports the current government policy of cost-sharing.

In addition to the local self-help organizations, recent policies have stimulated the growth of indigenous NGOs and private associations. As many of these engage in the provision of socioeconomic services, their activities have much relevance to nutrition. The church-based NGOs have set a good example in extending community development services, education and health facilities to areas which have not been fully covered by the state bureaucracy. Currently, for example churches run some 750 health facilities (hospitals, dispensaries, clinics and health centres) on Mainland Tanzania.

International Organizations and donor role in nutrition

Tanzania has benefitted from continued support from donors in nutrition related activities. Sweden through SIDA and UNICEF have supported TFNC since its inception in a number of its key programs. Recently (1990), WHO made TFNC its first collaborating Centre in Africa on Nutrition Research and Training. UNICEF, WHO, and the Italian Government have supported the JNSP; UNICEF has supported the Child Survival and Development (CSD) programmes. USAID, World Food Program (WFP), the European Economic Community (EEC)and others have provided food aid. SIDA, the Netherlands Government and UNICEF are supporting the IDD program. DANIDA and UNICEF are supporting the EPI and EDP programmes. UNFPA, GTZ and IPPF are supporting Family Planning. UNDP, ILO, UNESCO, IFAD have all supported nutrition related projects. The World Bank is supporting the Health and Nutrition Project (HNP) which includes support to the control of vitamin A deficiency and nutritional anaemia. FAO, GTZ, NORAD and other donors are supporting programmes related to food security. In addition, a significant number of other donors like UNU, SAREC, IPICS, IFS, IDRC, CIDA, the Netherlands, Australian and recently the Japanese Governments have support nutrition relevant actions. Many NGOs like ICCIDD, IVACG, CRS, CMBT, OXFAM, CCT and other church based NGOs have provided significant nutrition-relevant support.

International support for nutrition related activities is required to facilitate local actions for improved nutrition. Technical and appropriate and accessible technological support is needed to improve household food security, reduce the workload of women and take advantage in procuring essential imports at internationally competitive prices. Financial support is needed to support credit systems for income generating activities; travelling for extension staff to exchange experiences; transport for supervisory and support staff; and monitoring and evaluation with strengthening of national and community based nutrition related information systems.

To assist in capacity building within communities and supportive institutions, technical and managerial in-service training support is required to complement the more academic education for which scholarships are provided. Physical structure and selected recurrent services support should also be considered by international agencies supporting human development. Donor recurrent cost financing could be used to strengthen budget management in the areas of expenditure control; budgetary discipline; preparation of more transparent and accessible financial statements; more efficient allocation of resources and stronger emphasis on and priority to operation and maintenance. Monitoring and evaluation and increasing capacity on local resource mobilization are also important areas for recurrent support. Donor focus on investment support need to consider the very high marginal benefits which would accrue from recurrent support which in many cases are occasioned by the investments. There is no doubt that if done selectively donor recurrent support would have a positive impact. It could activate idle or under-utilized public sector capacity by providing non-salary items that would allow staff to perform. The success of the Iringa JNSP in reducing child mortality and malnutrition is a case in point.

The sectoral definition of the nutrition problem

Until the early 1980s when the unified integrated TFNC/UNICEF conceptual framework for the causes of malnutrition was largely adopted as the framework for guiding nutrition activities in Tanzania, most sectors viewed the nutrition problem from a sectoral basis. For example, the Ministry responsible for Agriculture viewed the problem of malnutrition as a food problem; the Ministry of Health viewed it as a medical problem and the Ministry responsible for Education viewed it as a problem of ignorance. The Ministry responsible for Community Development viewed it as a problem of poor community development and mobilization. Many NGOs and Donors also viewed it from the perspective of their own areas of mandate and it was not uncommon to find Food Aid being one of the major areas that NGOs and donors were doing in the “field of nutrition.” Thus each sector, donor or NGO worked independently on only one area of the malnutrition problem convinced that they were going to solve the problem. As it turned out many efforts went into those specific areas and the problem of malnutrition remained “constant over time and geographical area.”

Although a 1992 survey by TFNC on the sectoral conception about the causes and solutions of the malnutrition problem showed an improvement in the multi-causal and multi-solutions to the problem, there is still a strong conceptual sectoral bias. This and the results of a mini-survey conducted in Dar-Es-Salaam suggest that all ministries have at least an indirect relevance to nutrition, but six were claimed to affect nutrition more directly.

The Ministry of Agriculture enjoyed top ranking. The explanations of most interviewees was the popular association of nutrition with food availability and access. The Ministry of Community Development, Women Affairs and Children (created in 1990 and charged with the responsibility for the development of policies, strategies and programmes for improving the situation of women, children and communities) received second ranking. Three reasons were advanced. First, the focus on children would curb malnutrition at an early stage. Second, improvements in the situation of women would lead to the production of more foods, since women are the major producers in rural Tanzania. Third, community development work would make the people more aware of the nutrition situation and would motivate them to do something about it, like maintaining a clean environment, adopting better feeding habits and disease prevention practices.

The Ministry of Health came third with many people emphasizing the preventive side of health while a handful considered nutrition simply as a health or even a medical problem. The greater weight given to preventive measures reflects the government and the ruling party policies and campaigns since the early 1970s.

The Ministry of Education, which received fourth ranking, was hailed by those who link nutrition to intellectual capacity to control and harness the physical and social environments. The role of mass education in eliminating “anti-nutrition” cultural taboos was emphasized. To quote one respondent, “Food may be available and affordable, but people may fail to eat it because of cultural taboos.”

The ministry responsible for water came fifth, with one respondent summing up the argument nicely: “Without water, life ceases.”

The success of the use of the integrated inter-sectoral framework in the reduction of the rates of malnutrition in the JNSP and CSD programme areas has not only shown the need for a wider and multi-sectoral definition of the nutrition problem, but has also shown intervention measures taken should also be multi- and inter-sectoral. To emphasize this approach, the Planning Commission has coordinated national action plans for achieving the nutrition goals adopted by the various heads of state and government at the World Summit for Children held in New York in September, 1990. However, it is recognized that specific solutions can still be generated from single sectors, though their application may need the efforts of more than that sector alone. One of the major roles of TFNC is to facilitate inter-sectoral action in nutrition.

The use of nutrition information in policy and planning

In 1990 and 1992 TFNC conducted two surveys on potential and actual users of nutrition related information with the objective of identifying those groups, the types of nutrition related decisions they make; their nutrition information needs and to asses how and to what extent they have been using available nutrition data.

The first survey covered 24 institutions and the second covered 21 institutions including several villages and districts implementing and not implementing CSD programmes.

The results showed that there is a large pool of actual and potential users of nutrition related information for policy planning and programming. All the Ministries and institutions contacted indicated that they were using some kind of nutrition related information in their work. Nutrition information was required for policy setting for example the Agriculture and Livestock policies; National Food Strategy; price policies; setting of minimum wage; health policy; Food and Nutrition policy; education policy; water and sanitation etc.

Also nutrition information was required for programming purposes. Large programmes like the JNSP; CSD; Primary Health Care programmes (MCH, EPI, Health education, HIS); Diarrhoea Control; Acute Respiratory Infections (ARI) control; Food security and a number of the Regional Integrated Development Programmes (RIDEPs) all required a lot of nutrition and related data. The Priority Social Action Programme (PSAP) embodied in the Economic and Social Recovery Action Programme (ESAP) of 1989 - 1992 used a lot of nutrition and related information.

The type of information required depended on the institution under consideration. For example institutions dealing with food security wanted information on the adequacy of macronutrients (energy and protein) to be able to relate production to nutritional requirements; and food prices to measure economic accessibility. Macroeconomic Planners were desperate to get information on nutrition trends and its pattern in the population to measure the effect of the various economic and social policies especially the Structural Adjustment Programmes and to determine resource allocation. In setting up the minimum wage, the question which TFNC has always been asked is what wage will be adequate to just meet the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA)? As expected the poor economic situation has always forced the Government to give a lower minimum wage than what is nutritionally recommended. Health, Educational and related planners wanted the information to be/able to target their actions better. Nutrition intervention programmers have requested nutrition information to first justify the start of such programmes, secondly to plan and design implementable programmes and thirdly for purposes of impact monitoring.

The frequency with which the information is required will depend on the use. Food prices are reported on a daily basis. The Early Warning System and the Strategic Grain Reserve report on a monthly basis. Disease frequencies are reported also monthly within the Health Information System (HIS). The JNSP and CSD programmes get their information on a quarterly basis. The Planning Commission wants nutrition information on a quarterly basis but this has not been possible due to problems of data entry. It is presently planned for the Planning Commission to be responsible for the nutrition related data base and TFNC to support analysis and interpretation. For the setting of the minimum wage information is required when the Government is contemplating raising salaries. Sometimes the Bank of Tanzania requires food and nutrition related information for its fiscal policies on agriculture.

A few and important lessons were learned from the survey. The first is that potential users are many but do not know whether the information they require might be available and where. Second is that actual users were unable to get up to date information analyzed in the way that they could use it easily. From 1980 to 1983 TFNC used to produce a report entitled “Data report on the Food and Nutrition situation in Tanzania” on a sectoral sub-system matrix using the food cycle model from production, transportation, storage, processing and utilization subsystems. Many users found this report useful for research purposes and since it was a mere presentation of information without analysis decision and policy makers found it difficult to use. Many requested for a simpler, analyzed and graphical presentation of the data pointing out the major nutrition related trends and possible actions required to improve the situation. There were also problems of dissemination of information even when it was available. Many actual users found it difficult to get copies of documents they thought important for their work.

As a result TFNC through the Nutrition Surveillance programme is now producing a report entitled “Tanzania nutrition Trends” as a complement to the “Tanzania Economic Trends” which is simpler, analytical and graphic with comments on the salient features. But there are still large limitations in terms of the time lapse between availability of information and its analysis and release. Also it would be useful to desegregate the information into regions and districts. Efforts are presently been made to improve the situation so that relevant information for decision makers and programmers is timely available and desegregated to the lowest level possible.

The winners and losers of different policy decisions relevant to nutrition

Though all nutrition relevant policy decisions are intended to improve the nutrition situation of the population they may have different additional effects on people either individually or as groups. In the context of this discussion, those who are affected positively from the perspective of their interests are “winners” and those affected negatively are “losers.” There is only scanty information on this type of analysis and may be useful to study the situation in due course. Policies relevant to nutrition with these kind of “externalities” are mainly macroeconomic in nature which in many instances require confrontation with powerful interests.

The devaluation and trade liberalisation policies which led to major reforms in the marketing parastatals is a case in point. The reforms began with those parastatals concerned with food not only for ideological reasons but because the inflationary deficits of the food parastatals like the National Milling Corporation (NMC) could not be relieved through devaluation as it was the case for the marketing boards. The reforms which required NMC to relinquish its monopoly of grain marketing and allowed private traders to compete with it resulted in an improved grain distribution. As a result the price of maize, the major staple grain became lower on the open market than the NMC price. In order to operate commercially NMC had to lower the price of maize to that in the open market and in doing so had to make redundancies. Thus while the consumers were winners in this policy reform, the workers who were made redundant were losers.

At the same time NMC was not obliged any more to purchase food crops from farmers even in areas where it did not make economic sense. Those were the same areas shunned by the private entrepreneurs because of the very poor communication and deteriorating roads. As a result huge maize surpluses in places like Rukwa region were not purchased and farmers had to sell their maize at one third of the official price; which was not even enough to pay back the farm inputs. This acted as a disincentive to further production and a further increase of prices for urban consumers.

Thus while the food security objectives of the structural adjustment programmes were to increase household food access through price mechanisms, reorganization and rationalization of the marketing and distribution systems; not all people benefitted from the resultant good harvests which were the combined effect of incentives and good weather.

A peculiar and paradoxical situation emerged where high food prices in urban areas resulting from food shortages coexisted with huge stocks at the production level of the marketing chain. For example in January 1989, about 46,000 tons of maize had accumulated in Rukwa region against a storage capacity of 23,000 tons. Stockpiles of maize were also reported in Arusha, Iringa, Mbeya and Ruvuma. In Shinyanga and Mwanza paddy, stockpiles were exceptionally large during early 1989 and the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development appealed for efforts to convert paddy into rice to be taken on a “war footing” in its Food Security Bulletin of January, 1989 [MOA, 1989]. Thus farmers did not benefit fully from the higher producer prices because they could not sell their grain.

On the other hand consumers faced high food prices at a time they should have been enjoying cheaper food because of a bumper harvest. Urban consumers dependent on the food market, especially the low income socioeconomically vulnerable groups were particularly affected. The problem of high and variable food prices stems from the highly seasonal nature of cereal marketing in Tanzania, compounded by changes in the structure of the domestic markets. Large seasonal surpluses place enormous burden on scarce trading, transport and storage capacities during the peak periods particularly during the heavy rains; impairing food outlets from surplus areas to the urban centres of demand.

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