Since 2019, Mercy Corps has been supporting communities in Tanzania to increase livelihood opportunities, build resilient food systems, and promote good governance.
Agriculture is the core of Tanzania’s economy, and the main livelihood for an estimated 70% of households. However, the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 has caused fuel and fertilizer prices to balloon, affecting the already thin profit margins of smallholder farmers, who produce 80% of the country’s agriculture. In addition, climate change has brought on unpredictable and extreme weather causing droughts that result in the death of livestock, crop failures, and soaring food prices. These challenges have made agriculture outputs less predictable, affecting the livelihoods of many Tanzanians tied to farming.
Electricity is expanding in Tanzania, but there is a large divide in access between urban and rural households. In 2021, 77% of Tanzania’s urban population had access to electricity, while only 23% of its rural population had access. Lack of access to dependable energy limits livelihood opportunities since people are unable to use tools and technologies that require reliable electricity. Boosting non-farm economic activities in rural areas through access to and use of reliable electricity is crucial for Tanzania's economic development, unlocking new opportunities for businesses, promoting entrepreneurship, and fostering economic growth.
While Tanzania has been regarded as stable over the past few decades, conflict has increased due to social, political, and religious disputes. Communities in Tanzania are facing a risk of increased violence from community groups and individuals with radical ideologies promoting violence as a means to achieving solutions to their grievances.
Mercy Corps has been working in Tanzania since 2016, partnering with local communities, government, and businesses. Through our program activities we are making an impact across the areas below:
Increasing economic opportunities
Mercy Corps is providing small business owners and local entrepreneurs with skills to effectively and sustainably grow their businesses. As more Tanzanians connect to the electrical grid for the first time, Mercy Corps’ energy access platform, Energy 4 Impact, trains entrepreneurs on core business and financial management skills and advises them on the electronic equipment they should acquire to maximize the productivity for their businesses. Small businesses are vital to creating employment in rural areas, and reliable clean energy helps communities access modern technology which is key to supporting diverse livelihood opportunities.
Through platforms like Energy 4 Impact and programs like Agrifin, which partners with local organizations to help farmers with digital products and services to grow sustainable farms, Mercy Corps is providing solutions to small businesses. These businesses are usually small and have difficulty obtaining financing. Working with local suppliers and finance providers, supports small businesses to acquire equipment they need to grow their operations. They receive technical assistance and training, leading to successful enterprises that are more productive and sustainable. These businesses lead to local economic growth, better goods and services offered to the community, and job creation.
Promoting resilient food systems
Smallholder farmers manage 80% of Tanzania’s farmland. Mercy Corps provides information and workshops for farmers to work their fields more efficiently, and increase business acumen through business mentoring, horticulture training, market insight, and financial skills. By supporting smallholder farmers to modernize farming practices, farmers are increasing productivity and building resilience to droughts through systems like solar irrigation. We work with technology suppliers to make products like solar panels or pumps more affordable and accessible for subsistence farmers. With these tools, farmers can boost their crop yields and support a more sustainable food system.
Strengthening governance and social stability
Mercy Corps is working to reduce tensions and strengthen relationships within communities, between communities, and with local government. We provide trainings on conflict mitigation to youth groups, community organizations, and local government to help decrease violence and lead peacebuilding efforts. As part of our outreach, we’ve supported community dialogues to increase resilience against recruitment into violent groups. By working with local religious and community leaders, Mercy Corps is supporting community members who champion peace and religious tolerance in their communities.