“Elderly woman drops to earth while travelling in the air,” apparently

Mtanzania 310115

In Mtanzania today, a remarkable story, particularly when you note that this is a respectable newspaper, nothing like Sanian elderly woman apparently fell from the sky above Shinyanga.

The article doesn’t explain how she was “travelling through the air”, but it doesn’t need to: travelling by ‘ungo’ (flying basket) is a familiar concept in Tanzania. Fallen-from-the-sky stories appear fairly regularly in the press. Occasionally, they are told with some scepticism. But often, as in this case, they are told entirely at face value. Continue reading

It really is “nothing but witchcraft” in Sani newspaper

"Nothing but witchcraft" - Sani 24/1/15

“Uchawi Mtupu” (“Nothing but witchcraft”) – Sani 24/1/15

I spotted this newspaper headline last Saturday. “Urais Mwaka 2015: Uchawi Mtupu”, which roughly translates as “2015 Presidency: Nothing but witchcraft”, along with photos of five potential presidential candidates. Continue reading

Tanzania bans another newspaper

The Citizen, 27/01/15

The Citizen, 27/01/15

Once again, the Tanzanian government has banned a newspaper. In late 2013, Mtanzania was suspended for 90 days and Mwananchi for 14. In June 2012 it was MwanaHalisi, which remains suspended to this day. This time it is The East African, a highly respected regional paper.

The East African’s readership in Tanzania is low in numbers, but significant for who they are: the country’s business and political elites. It is seen as a thorough and dependable source of news on financial matters and regional politics in particular. It’s also part of the same media group (NMG/MCL) as two major and respected Tanzanian newspapers: The Citizen and Mwananchi.

We’re unlikely to see the outcry that followed suspension of Mwananchi in 2013. Most Tanzanians – even newspaper readers – won’t notice, with cabinet resignations and reshuffles dominating the news agenda. But it stands, once again, in stark contrast to the government’s stated commitment to open government and freedom of information.  Continue reading

Chart of the week #33: Giving birth without safe water and sanitation

Let’s start with some headline statistics:

  • 43% of births in Tanzania take place at home
  • Of these, only 1.5% take place in settings with access to safe water and sanitation
  • Only 44% of health facilities that conduct deliveries have provision of safe water and sanitation facilities

And putting that all together:

  • Only 30% of births in Tanzania take place in an environment that includes access to safe water and sanitation.

These findings come from an analysis of data from the 2010 Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) and the 2006 Service Provision Assessment, by researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the World Health Organisation and Bugando Hospital.

Access to safe water and sanitation facilities seems like such a fundamental part of giving birth, wherever it happens. That only 30% of mothers in Tanzania have such access is pretty shocking.

But the researchers went further, to look at how access to a safe water and sanitation environment when giving birth varied across the country, and between richer and poorer Tanzanians. It turns out that the headline figures cover up some major differences.

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Looking closer at Tanzania’s witchcraft ban

The Citizen, 24/8/14

The Citizen, 24/8/14

Tanzania bans witchdoctors,” says the headline on The East African website. For those who speak the language, the BBC Swahili website puts it a little more elegantly: “Wapiga ramli kupigwa marufuku.”

Both articles, along with many more in the Tanzanian papers this week, report on the announcement by the Minister of Home Affairs, Mathias Chikawe, of new efforts to address a spate of violent attacks against people with albinism in Tanzania. Such attacks have been going on for some years, linked to a demand for the body parts of people with albinism for use in witchcraft, but a rise in attacks last year and the abduction last month of a four-year-old girl in a village near Mwanza has refocussed attention on the issue. Continue reading

Chart of the week #33: Multidimensional poverty in Tanzania

Those clever folks at Oxford University, specifically the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI), have put together a dataset on multi-dimensional poverty. It covers not just 110 developing countries, but also a total of 803 sub-national regions within countries. Their measure doesn’t look at wealth or income, but instead at ten indicators covering health, education and living standards. According to their website, this

“complements traditional income-based poverty measures by capturing the severe deprivations that each person faces at the same time with respect to education, health and living standards. The MPI assesses poverty at the individual level. If someone is deprived in a third or more of ten (weighted) indicators, the global index identifies them as ‘MPI poor’, and the extent – or intensity – of their poverty is measured by the number of deprivations they are experiencing.

The indicators are years of schooling, school attendance, child mortality, nutrition, access to electricity, sanitation and water supply, the type of household flooring and fuel for cooking and household assets. There’s a full list at the bottom of the post, together with details of criteria for defining households as “deprived” under each measure.

First, let’s look at the various dimensions of poverty in Tanzania, first at the national level and then by zone. For the zone chart, you can choose which indicator you want to look at.

Some thoughts:

1. There’s a pretty clear pattern that people in some parts of the country are poorer than others. In particular, across all the measures, those in the central zone are the most deprived, while those in the Eastern and Northern Zones, and on Zanzibar, are better off. This is not surprising, as these less-poor zones include vibrant economic regions such as Dar es Salaam, Morogoro, Tanga, Kilimanjaro and Arusha.

2. There’s also a clear pattern that, according to the definitions used here, deprivation in Tanzania in health and education is much lower than in living standards. More people lack access to electricity or water supply than health and education services. However, this says nothing about the quality of education services available. As we have seen before, the quality can be very low indeed – see here and here, for example.

Second, how does the intensity of poverty vary between different parts of the country?

For this chart, a household is classed as being in “severe poverty” if they are deprived in over 50% of the indicators (after weightings have been applied), as “poor” if they are deprived in over 33.3% of the indicators after weightings, and as “vulnerable” is they are deprived in between 20% and 33.3% of the indicators after weightings.


3. In this case, as before, poverty is deepest in the central zone – Dodoma, Singida and Tabora regions – where only a tiny fraction (3%) of the population are neither poor nor vulnerable to falling into poverty. The situation isn’t much better in the Western Zone or Lake Zone either. Once again, only in Eastern Zone and Zanzibar (and to some extent the Northern Zone as well) are the poverty numbers lower.

4. There also a clear difference between urban and rural Tanzania. Poverty and deprivation are much higher in rural areas than urban, according to this data.

So, finally, here is that full list of indicators and criteria:

criteria for deprivation

Guest post: Miss Umeme 2014 scandal unfolds!

This is a guest post by Boyce Sarokin.

On 8th November, Ms Sitti Mtemvu handed in her Miss Tanzania 2014 crown when allegations on social media that she had forged her birth certificate to qualify for the pageant were shown to be correct.

The organisers of Miss Umeme Tanzania, Dar-based event promoters Ventilated Improved Pit Latrines Ltd, (VIP), have strongly denied that corruption was involved in this year’s competition. Tanzanian social media are full of claims that Ms Paulina Fatma Pinduzi, popularly known as ‘Pap’, who won last month’s competition, forged her Tanzanian passport in order to qualify. In fact, it appears that she was born in Nairobi, Kenya.

In a press conference held in VIP’s office yesterday, spokesman and long-time Miss Umeme organiser Mr J B Rungumalaya strongly denied any wrongdoing: “There is no truth whatsoever in the rumour that Ms PAP does not deserve the Miss Umeme crown,” he claimed, looking agitated.

When asked by journalists to comment on Ms Pap’s Kenyan passport, a copy of which was posted on BongoForum’s website last week, Rungumalaya claimed: “This document is a forgery concocted by my enemies to rob me of the Ms Umeme franchise, which I have enjoyed for the last 20 years. Ms Pinduzi is Tanzanian born and bred. And by the way, I have incurred debts of USD 75 million to put on this very successful show, which is not vigisenti”, he fumed, claiming that most of the money had already been spent in promoting the event.
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