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At more than ten times the size of Ireland and with an estimated population of 47m, Tanzania is the largest country in East Africa. The Tanzanian economy has grown considerably during the last ten years and poverty rates have declined but the pace and depth of poverty reduction means that not everyone has benefited. Twelve million Tanzanian live below the national poverty line defined at the point where people are unable to meet their basic needs. One in ten Tanzanians are extremely poor, unable to afford their basic food requirements, and poor health and malnutrition affect a significant proportion of the population contributing further to their poverty. Irish Aid is working closely with the Tanzanian government and a range of non-governmental organisations to ensure that rural poor households, in particular women and children, earn enough to sustain and feed their families, are better nourished and live longer healthier lives.


  • Overview
  • Background
  • Our Work
  • Results


Tanzania at a glance


55.6 million

Proportion of people living on less than $1.25 a day:


Ranking on 2011 UN Human Development Index:

151 out of 188 countries

Partner country since:



A large map of Tanzania

Ireland and Tanzania

Irish Aid has been providing development assistance to Tanzania since 1975 and launched its aid programme in 1979 with the opening of a Development Cooperation Office in Dar es Salaam. Since then, we have worked with a variety of partner organisations including government institutions, UN agencies, international research institutions, civil society organisations and donor agencies to deliver on our overall goal of inclusive growth and reduced poverty and vulnerability in Tanzania.

We have set out our objectives in our Tanzania Country Strategy Paper which has a significant emphasis on building government systems and a focus on partnership and interventions that deliver results for the poor and vulnerable. The new strategy runs from 2017-2021. Our objectives focus on agriculture, nutrition, health and governance and are aligned with the priorities of the Tanzanian Government’s National Development Plan.

As well as providing assistance through our bilateral aid programme, we support the work of local and international aid agencies and missionary organisations in Tanzania through our civil society funding schemes.

We also support a number of research and learning partnerships between higher education institutions in Ireland and Tanzania.



Since gaining its independence in 1961, Tanzania has enjoyed good relations with its neighbours and has been active in promoting efforts to resolve conflict in the region.

With the introduction of a multiparty political system in 1992, Tanzania has strengthened democracy and political freedoms. Over the last number of years, political opposition, the media and civil society have all become notably more assertive.  The parliament, whose sessions are broadcast live, has played an important role in enhancing accountability and increasing public interest in political issues.  Public sector reform, particularly in the area of public financial management and audit have contributed to increased accountability and are active agents in the fight against corruption. The country also recently joined the Open Government Partnership, a new multilateral initiative that aims to secure concrete commitments from governments to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption and harness new technologies to strengthen governance.

Based on Tanzania’s Constitution, Presidential, parliamentary and local government  elections  are every five years and Presidential term limits are strictly adhered to. In October 2015 Tanzania will go to the polls to elect a new President as President Kikwete prepares to hand over power to his successor.Preparations have been underway for some time and a biometric voter registration process is  complete with voters turning out in large numbers toregister. .   Ireland is supporting the election preparation through a UNDP Democratic Empowerment Programme with a particular focus on voter education.  Tanzania has made sustained efforts to promote participation of women in parliament. The Embassy has recently signed an agreement with the Women Fund Tanzania to increase the voice and participation of women in upcoming elections and in post-election processes such as monitoring implementation of campaign promises. 

Sunflower Producers & members of Mnyororo Producers Group, Chunya District, Mbeya Region


Tanzania’s economy is one of the fastest growing in the world, with 7% growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This growth is due in particular to strong performances in the services (especially telecommunications), construction, and manufacturing sectors. The country has experienced relatively high growth over the past decade as a result of sound macroeconomic policies and economic liberalisation;  poor energy and transport infrastructure are key constraints on growth and removing these bottlenecks will be necessary if growth is to be broad based and more inclusive. 


Agriculture and fishing is the largest economic sector accounting for one third of GDP and employing two thirds of Tanzanians, but has experienced much lower growth.  The majority of crop production takes place on smallholder, subsistence farms largely using hand tools. Most farm produce is sold in raw form with little value addition. There are over 15 million smallholder farmers in Tanzania, around half of whom are women. 

Agricultural incomes are stagnant due to  a lack of infrastructure, particularly in irrigation, storage and transport, which hampers farmers’ ability to produce sufficient food and get it to market. 

Rising food and fuel prices are a serious concern for the public. However, recently discovered oil and gas deposits, if well managed, are likely to have a significant impact on growth and prosperity in the medium to long term. Tanzania is still considered to be “one of Africa’s Sleeping Agricultural Giants” because its abundant land, water resources and rich soils have the potential to provide food not only for the country but the wider region.


Tanzania is ranked 159 out of 187 on the 2014 United Nation’s Human Development Index (Ireland is ranked eleventh). Tanzania has made good progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals, particularly in education and environmental sustainability. Infant and maternal mortality rates have fallen and over 90% of children are vaccinated against diphtheria, whooping cough and tetanus. Despite the fact that sustained progress has been recorded on the prevention of HIV and AIDS and malaria, the nutritional status of children is of concern with 42% of children under five considered to be stunted or too short for their age.   

An estimated 28.2% of the population live below the national poverty line of approximately $1.00 a day (at 2005 purchasing power parities). . When using the international poverty line of $1.25 per person per day the proportion jumps more than 15 percentage points to 43.5%, this means that a large number of households are hovering just above the national poverty line and are vulnerable to falling into poverty. Poverty is more severe in rural areas, where 80% of the population live, and highest among households, including pastoralists, that depend on agriculture for their livelihood. These households are particularly vulnerable to drought, disease or food price fluctuations and are a focus of Ireland’s aid programme in Tanzania.

Our Work

In Tanzania, Irish Aid works with a variety of partner organisations at national and local levels to improve livelihoods for smallholder farmers and pastoralists, to improve nutrition and to ensure better quality and equitable public health services. In doing so we pay attention to the needs and experience of the most vulnerable, and in particular, to the needs of women and children.

Doris Hassan, a member of Wawakuda co-op in Tanzania with some of her corn crop

Improving the livelihoods of smallholders and pastoralists

Irish Aid is supporting smallholder farmers and pastoralists to increase farm productivity and improve the farming business environment. This is achieved through working closely with agriculture sector ministries and by supporting research and planning processes at the national level. 

Irish Aidaims to get more income directly into farmers’ pockets by supporting NGOs, research and private sector organisations working to increase  access to reliable and lucrative markets through sustainable agriculture value chains.

The livelihoods programmes also provides assistance to farmer networks, including pastoralist civic society organisations, to better organise themselves to be heard at a national level, particularly on matters that concern them such as land rights, good market regulatory framework and policies, and access to services.  

Improving food security and nutrition response

At the national level, we are focusing on ensuring that government plans and policies include nutrition interventions and we have been actively involved in the development of the national nutritional strategy. We also advocate for increased funding to nutrition and the inclusion of nutrition interventions in district health and agriculture plans, particularly interventions that target women and children.

We are working to improve diet and nutritional practices at the household level particularly for pregnant and breast-feeding women and for children under two.  We work with the UN and non-governmental organisations to support community groups involved in raising nutrition awareness and increasing production of nutritious vegetables and animal protein.

Festina Mwibuka weighs children at Kiponzelo Health Centre, Maboga ward, Iringa Region

Enhancing the quality and equity of local health services

We are supporting better health outcomes for vulnerable people and communities throughout Tanzania by directly financing the national health sector plan, Ireland is one of seven donor contributors to the Health Basket Fund, a pooled funding mechanism that facilitates the flow of financial and other resources directly to the district level health services. The aim of this support is to improve delivery of primary health care and to strengthen the overall health system through better planning, budgeting and reporting.  We support a national health research institute so that national health strategies and plans are based on sound evidence.

Alongside our support to the government for the delivery of better health services, we support programmes that promote greater awareness and participation by citizens so that they can have a say and hold government to account for the services they receive.

We also support awareness raising, advocacy and specialist services for specific vulnerable groups through supporting civil society and community organisations with a focus on disability and women’s rights.

Minister Sherlock with Ambassador in Zanzibar parliament

Better management of public finances and increased accountability to citizens

Tanzania enjoys a good reputation for its commitment to good governance yet corruption persists as a constraint to development and is both a consequence of and a contributor to poor quality public services.  We are working with other partners to strengthen the systems for public financial management and oversight including a more credible and transparent budget process, strengthened independent audit and increased parliamentary oversight.    

Cutting across all our work is support for civil society organisations that promote greater citizen participation and better government accountability as well as programmes that focus on gender equality and gender-based violence, and promoting a free and fair media. We believe that these are essential to ensuring quality and equitable service delivery at the local level. 

How we spend our budget

We work in partnership with the Government of Tanzania, other donors, civil society organisations and multi-lateral institutions to deliver our programme. Our expenditure in 2015 was in excess of €26 million.  

For more detailes information see Summary of Partner Country by sector - Annex 9, Irish Aid Annual Report 2015 

Expenditure by sector Tanzania 2015


How we have helped

Irish Aid has played its part in the progress made by Tanzania. With our support:

  • 100,000 specialist consultations provided to people living with disabilities through Irish Aid support in 2015.
  • With support from Irish Aid 10,000 people with disabilities benefited from corrective surgery in 2014.
  • Approximately 7,000 smallholder cocoa farmers have increased their income through sales of better quality cocoa to fermentaries and chocolate manufacturers as a result of training and technical expertise provided by our partners;
  • 4940 people (1,334 women) gained employment in the sunflower value chain in 2014 with Irish Aid support;
  • 97% of infants under one year of age nationwide have been vaccinated against measles as a result of improved local health service delivery supported by us through channelling funding to the local level;
  • Through the support of Irish Aid all hospitals and 18 health centres in Shinyanga region have established systems to record all incidences of violence against women presenting at those facilities

Read more

Irish Aid’s Tanzania Country Strategy Paper 2011-2015 (PDF - 817KB) sets out how we respond to the changing development environment in Tanzania.