Tanzania is one of the world’s poorest nations, ranking 159th out of 177 countries on the United Nations Human Development Index. The country is known across Africa, however, for promoting gender equality as a national goal. Notably there are important policy provisions that ensure women’s participation in agriculture, including protection of a woman’s right to land, prohibition of discrimination in the workplace, and the equality of men and women in agricultural cooperatives.
Nevertheless, poor governance, gender-based discrimination, and a culture that instills women’s dependence on men are all deeply entrenched, limiting women’s ability to equitably participate in and benefit from agriculture. These constraints reinforce the challenges that Tanzanian women and their families face in terms of chronic food insecurity, declining yields, decreasing soil fertility, an ineffective extension and agro-inputs supply system, and low competitiveness in local, regional, and international agricultural commodity markets.
In an effort to reverse this trend, the Government of Tanzania has committed to pulling millions out of poverty by investing 10% of its annual budget to the agriculture sector. The national agriculture policy, Kilimo Kwanza, promotes sustainable agriculture practices combined with private sector-led commercialization of subsistence farming. Southern Tanzania, the focus of Pathways, is one of the poorest parts of the country but is now poised to become a “growth driver” in the country. Over the next ten to fifteen years, southern Tanzania will see improved roads, ICT infrastructure, increased investment, and an influx of workers from other regions. There are also risks, however, that increased growth will not provide for equitable benefits to poor women smallholders.
In light of this context, the overall objective of CARE Tanzania’s Pathways initiative is to take advantage of these opportunities and mitigate potential risks by empowering smallholder women in the Lindi and Mtwara regions of southern Tanzania to engage in productive and equitable, sustainable agriculture. The Pathways Initiative will achieve direct impacts on 16,484 married women in poor smallholder households and female heads of households. These impacts will extend to 68,406 additional members of their immediate households as well as poor community members, local leaders, members of village-level governance structures, and district agricultural offices.
Key interventions which make up the Tanzania Pathways initiative include:
- Nurturing collectives and community organizations, especially village savings and loan associations (VSLAs), farmer groups, and cooperatives. In working with these groups, CARE will provide life skills training for women and men and promote the voices of members of selected impact groups in governance processes.
- Promoting sustainable and intensified agricultural practices in the cassava and sesame subsectors. Pathways Tanzaniawill focus on integrating more productive crop varieties with conservation agriculture methodologies to improve soil, diversify production, and build resilience and adaptation in agriculture systems to address the impacts of climate change.
- Facilitating the development of more inclusive, competitive, and environmentally sustainable markets using a value chain approach, with the goal of identifying opportunities for impact group women to earn a sustainable income.
- Engaging with men and elites to shift social norms, using multiple methods to raise awareness and promote dialogue on gender issues such as basic rights, gender relations, inheritance, divorce, land tenure, and childcare.