Tanzania: In Praise of Microfinance for Anti-Poverty Drive

Oct 2016
Tanzania , October, 19 2016 - UN facts indicates that 836 million people still live in extreme poverty; About one in five persons in developing regions lives on less than USD 1.25 per day; and the overwhelming majority of people living on less than USD 1.25 a day belong to two regions: Southern Asia and Sub- Saharan Africa.

The United Nations International Day for the Eradication of Poverty has been marked on October 17 each year, since 1993.

Various activities across the globe have been organized in recognition of efforts to fight poverty. Local and International Non- Governmental Organizations (NGOs), and community groups joined forces to observe the day during the 'anti poverty week', through different events and rallies.

Events and gatherings in support of the Day for the Eradication of Poverty have been dominated by call on private institutions, country leaders and governments to make the fight against poverty a priority so that people live a decent life.

In observing the day, set to promote people's awareness of the need to end poverty, particularly in developing countries, officers from an NGO and Ministry of Labour Empowerment, Elderly, Youth, Women and Children visited microfinance groups in some villages.

The microfinance beneficiaries in Kwamtipura, Magomeni and Bungi villages were happy to meet officers from the Building Resources Across Communities (BRAC) accompanied by staff from the ministry. The beneficiaries majority being women were happy to meet the officers.

It was an opportunity to spak up on the challenges facing them, including using the Brac fund to invest in selling snacks, farming and livestock keeping. "We are happier than before. Evaluating ourselves, we can afford basic needs at home-food and clothing and supporting our children with school needs like uniforms.

I started by selling juice and buns, I have now moved to sell charcoal as a wholesaler," said Ms Mavuno Haji, Ms Haji who belongs to microfinance group named Hatukati Tamaa (literary meaning never give up) group at Kwamtipura area, said that the benefit from the business also enabled her to construct a small house.

Ms Mwanamrisho Sharif, head of Hatukati Tamaa said that most of the 27 members of the group formed in 2014 have benefited in different ways, pathway to poverty reduction in families.

She said each member got a loan from Brac, depending on the size of the investment, it ranges between 250,000/= to more than a million, on condition to refund weekly or monthly, as it is a revolving fund.

The interest is 25 percent, of which the beneficiaries complain that it is huge. Mr Amran Mohamed of Magomeni area is a happy man after, possibly placing 'poverty' behind him and issue of the past.

He started livestock keeping with 27 poultry including ten hens given to him by Brac in 2013. "To date, I have 1,400 chickens including traditional, broilers and layers.

I am now a supplier of chickens and eggs, as I plan to open up poultry products industry," Mr Mohamed said, and in addition to his capital, he borrowed 3m/= from the Ministry of empowerment, "I am paying back gradually."

Other beneficiaries from Bungi village, South Unguja: Mr Amani Malale, Mr Mangalami Mdanganya, Ms Pili Majija, Ms Asia Stephen are engaged in growing vegetables and Maize.

In separate occasions at the meeting with officers from Brac and the Ministry, the farmers said that although they have recoded success in their antipoverty struggle, they still face multiple challenges which include theft of farm products, lack of inputs and unreliable rain hampers harvest.

They asked the government to support them in getting water so as to shift to irrigation farming because they cannot continue relying on rainfall because it has lost pattern, one of the impacts of climate change.

"I got a loan of three hundred thousand shillings (300,000/=), and planted maize, unfortunately it desiccated because of lack of water. Therefore I had to look for other means to pay back the money," said Ms Majija.

The Community Organizers (COs) Ms Asha Ali said and Ms Naima Rashid Kassim overseeing the Bungi beneficiaries said, "The women and men in the village have been working hard but the farmers need water for their plants."

Mr Magoko Chacha- Programme Organizer Brac said most of the farmers and traders in the microfinance support program have been working hard after they were provided with skills, and the "government should acknowledge what the people are doing by overcoming their problems."

Ms Hadiya Khamis Haji, Brac area manager for Daraja Bovu region, said most of the beneficiaries are women who include unmarried young women, widows and the divorced who have expressed thanks to Brac.

She downplayed complaints that the 25 percent interest in loan was high, arguing that it is reasonable and with conditions that are easy to implement by all borrowers. "Just plan properly and work hard," she said.
Speaking at the meeting with beneficiaries of Brac Support, Mr Hassan Khatib Hassan- Deputy Principal Secretary (PS) - Ministry of 'Labour Empowerment, Elderly, Youth, Women, and Children' commended the farmers and traders.

He said fighting poverty means a lot to the people, community and nation, "It means, including reducing violence, improving health and education, and bringing peace in the family."

The international theme for the 17 October 2016, the 30th UN International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, chosen by the United Nations with the International Committee for October 17 is: 'Moving from humiliation and exclusion to participation: Ending poverty in all its forms.'

UN facts indicates that 836 million people still live in extreme poverty; About one in five persons in developing regions lives on less than USD 1.25 per day; and the overwhelming majority of people living on less than USD 1.25 a day belong to two regions: Southern Asia and Sub- Saharan Africa.

Other facts shows that High poverty rates are often found in small, fragile and conflict-affected countries; One in four children under age five in the world has inadequate height for his or her age and Every day (in 2014 statistics), 42,000 people had to abandon their homes to seek protection due to conflict.

The UN Secretary-General Mr Ban Ki-Moon's message on this year's International Day for the eradication of poverty said "We are approaching the end of the first year of implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development."

He said that with its 17 Sustainable Development Goals, the 2030 Agenda is a universal vision for peace, prosperity and dignity for all people on a healthy planet and that achieving this objective is inconceivable without fulfilling the mandate of SDG 1 to end poverty in all its forms. Mr Ki-Moon said "Today, some one billion people live in extreme poverty and more than 800 million endure hunger and malnutrition.

But poverty is not simply measured by inadequate income. It is manifested in restricted access to health, education and other essential services and, too often, by the denial or abuse of other fundamental human rights."
He pointed out that Poverty is both a cause and consequence of marginalization and social exclusion, and that to fulfill the promise of the 2030 Agenda to leave no one behind; "we must address the humiliation and exclusion of people living in poverty."

He said it is the duty of all governments and societies is to address systemic socio-economic inequalities and facilitate the engagement of all people living in extreme poverty so they can help themselves, their families and their communities to build a more equitable, sustainable and prosperous future for all.

Ms Rahma Ali Khamis- Brac board Member and officer from the Ministry of empowerment commended the Women and Men for fighting poverty in acceptable way, which include different income generating activities.

She said the government is determined to work with development partners like Brac to continue supporting groups so that individual people can increase their per-capita income and boost national economy.

Ms Khamis urged the beneficiaries to remain committed despite challenges they face, and the BRAC country director Mr Mostfizur Rahman- Senior Regional Manager, Brac- Tanzania said "I am pleased to see that many people are benefiting from our support."

BRAC is an international development organisation based in Bangladesh, provides cash money to debtors so that they increase income to live better life including ensuring that children go to school. Brac is said to be the largest nongovernmental development organisation in the world, in terms of number of employees as of September 2016.

Established by Sir Fazle Hassan Abed in 1972 after the independence of Bangladesh, BRAC is present in all 64 districts of Bangladesh as well as other countries in Asia, Africa, and the Americas.

According to Mr Rahman the NGO started its operations in Tanzania in 2006 with programs in microfinance, small enterprise programs and expanded in many areas such as agriculture, poultry and livestock keeping, and empowerment for the poor and change their livelihood.

He said in Zanzibar, BRAC has been operating its activities in two regions, supporting 120, 000 poor people mainly women through its development initiatives, "Including more than 42, 000 community people directly.

"Our agriculture and Livestock program provides quality as well as affordable agriculture and livestock inputs and training to community people, with special focus on helping women and poor farmers of Zanzibar," Mr Rahman said.

Source : allAfrica

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