Sustainable Development: Will Tanzania achieve its 2015 Millennium Development Goals?

28th June 2014

Agriculture MDG7

Over the course of the next few months, Mark and I (Photographer and Communications Officer) will be travelling all over Tanzania to report on our sustainable projects. At the moment I am spending time with Alpha 5 in the village of Salawe where I hope to gain a better understanding of how the Early Childhood Development Centre (ECD) project will impact the community. We are both psyched at the opportunity to spend time at different projects, reporting on the challenges that some rural communities experience in Tanzania and how we are working with them.

So, before you read the upcoming features and view our photo stories, and to put the projects in context, below is a brief overview of the current level of development in Tanzania and whether the country is on target to achieve some of its 2015 Millennium Development Goals.


In September 2000, Tanzania was one of 189 countries that agreed upon eight international development goals (Millennium Development Goals or MDGs) at the General Assembly of the United Nations. These goals include targets for the eradication of extreme poverty, universal primary school education, improvements on environmental sustainability and sanitation for 2015. Whilst Tanzania has experienced some economic growth over the past 10 – 15 years (average rate of 7% per year), Tanzania’s ranking in world human development remains low at 152nd position in 2012 [1].

The Tanzanian Government has made plans to improve sustainable development with programmes with the Poverty Master Plan[2] and is on track to achieve some goals by 2015 such as the reduction of child mortality (target: 64 per 1000 live births) [1]. Despite this progress, some goals such as eradicating extreme poverty and hunger as well as improving environmental sustainability are unlikely to be met[1].

Raleigh projects in Tanzania will aim to impact all eight development goals through empowerment but this summer the expedition will mainly focus on the following MDGs:

· MDG 1: Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger

· MDG 2: Achieve Universal Education

· MDG 7: Ensure Environmental Sustainability

See here for an overview of this year’s summer projects.

Sustainable Livelihoods

Agriculture MDG7

Living sustainably is based on the standard that everything necessary for our well-being such as access to clean water, food and resources for modern cooking etc can be gained from the natural environment without any negative impact [3]. Sustainability ensures that the world’s natural resources are not depleted and levels are maintained for the well-being of future generations.

Currently, most Tanzanians live in rural communities with almost 80% relying on farming for income. Given this, it is shocking to learn that only 6.7% of the cultivable land is used effectively and sustainably. In addition, the population in Tanzania is increasing (15% in the last ten years)[4] and for one of the world’s poorest countries this puts an incredible strain on its limited resources e.g. wood for cooking etc.

At the Raleigh Tanzania project site in Endashang’wet village, Arusha, Volunteer Managers and Venturers will be involved in promoting sustainable living by raising awareness of fuel efficient stoves (rocket stoves), extending an irrigation canal so that the land can be cultivated more efficiently and sustainably whist supporting conservation work.

The Tanzanian government (in consultation with UN agencies) has predicted that Tanzania is not likely to achieve the seventh MDG to ensure environmental sustainability by 2015 – where over 74% of the rural population have access to clean water and improved sanitation[1]. In rural communities, access to clean water can also be a challenge and at the Sustainable Water, School and Hygiene (SWASH) project in Mbeya, where participants are involved in building a primary school sanitation block, women and children often have to walk for 5km to get clean water.  

Universal Primary Education

Education MDG2

MDG2, which details how all Tanzanians should be educated to at least primary school level, is set to be achieved in 2015. Currently 95% of the population receive this, which is a great improvement on 54% in 1992[1]. Despite this progress the quality of educational teaching is still quite low in some areas. Raleigh Projects such as the ECD centre will ensure that children can receive a good foundation before they enter primary education (read the next blog for more details on how this project positively impact some of the most vulnerable children in Tanzania). Although the high level of primary education is a good indicator of development, most schools have a high student to teacher ratio and do not have adequate sanitation facilities[1]. At the project in Mbeya where Raleigh Tanzania will be working in partnership with SEMA (Sustainable Environmental Management Action) to improve sanitation in a primary school, 650 students currently share 11 latrines.

Eradication of Extreme Poverty

There is still widespread poverty in Tanzania and currently 33% of the population live below the national poverty line[1]. The Tanzanian MDG 1 aims to reduce this percentage to at least 20% by 2015, however, according to the Country Report on the Millennium Development Goals 2010 this is not likely to be achieved. In the climate of underdevelopment in Tanzania, new innovations are needed and in August 2014 Raleigh Tanzania will launch a new pilot project in Katisi with Wildlife Connections which will focus on promoting the economic benefits of harvesting and selling honey using beehive fencing.


Although this year’s summer projects are unlikely to solve all the challenges that rural communities face in Tanzania, the most important aspect of Raleigh’s work is empowerment.  Where communities are inspired to improve and change their own environments through awareness raising activities and engaging with community groups.  

I am excited at the prospect of seeing community improvement first hand! Check the blog soon for updates on the ECD project in Salawe, Shinyanga and Mark’s photo story from his trip to the Sustainable Livelihoods project in Endashang’wet village, Arusha.


1 Country Report on the Millennium Development Goals 2010

2Tanzania Country Profile, KPMG 2012

3The Millennium Development Goals: UNDP

4Population Distribution, Urbanization, Internal Migration and Development: An International Perspective