Food Security in Tanzania – Challenges, Advancements, Affects and More

Current Situation of Food Security in Tanzania – Challenges, Advancements, Affects and More

Overview of Food Security in Tanzania

In the Unified Republic of Tanzania, the situation of food and nutrition security is a hotly debated topic. Agriculture contributes over a third of the country’s gross domestic product [GDP]. Although numerous internal and external obstacles hinder it, it is an element of Tanzania that foreign parties and the country itself constantly work on. Economic growth, environmental changes, climate change, governance, agricultural and food security policy in Tanzania are all factors that influence food. Furthermore, a population’s food security or lack of it – might have long-term consequences.

Number of people facing insufficient food consumption in Tanzania from to January to November 2021
Number of people facing insufficient food consumption in Tanzania from to January to November 2021

Tanzania is trailing behind in ensuring food security on a global basis. Food security in Tanzania is rated 162nd out of 185 nations in the Proteus Worldwide Food Security Score, based on data gathered by the WFP [World Food Programme]. Tanzania has a score of 0.564 on a range of 0.08 – 0.775, with the upper end of the scale signaling food insecurity. According to an ALPS [Alert for Price Spikes] calculation, 7 out of 20 surveyed Tanzanian marketplaces hit a crisis level in Q4-2019, according to the WFP.

To further explain the parameters utilized to evaluate the food security in Tanzania, its marketplaces, and their inadequacies. The ALPS Index “monitors the degree to which domestic markets encounter unusually high food costs by comparing the degree of monthly food costs against their approximated seasonal trend and categorizing them as stress, normal, alert, or crisis.”


A slew of structural difficulties hampers food security in Tanzania. A lack of operational and financial means, limited access to finance, poor business capabilities, low degree of capacity, and a lack of infrastructure imply no incentives to develop their agriculture sector further.

Natural Obstacles

Some of the issues hindering food security in Tanzania are difficult to control. Locusts have been destroying Tanzanian and other Eastern-African crops as late as February 2020, posing a threat to the food security in Tanzania and the region’s capacity to maintain agricultural productivity levels. According to a Time article on the subject, this natural substance can be a major issue:

The swarms are massive, with one hive measuring 37 miles in length and 25 miles in width in Northeastern Kenya. According to the United Nations, Desert locusts are the most harmful migratory insects because of their ability to demolish crops, posing a threat to livelihoods and the food security in Tanzania. Swarms of locusts, which can comprise 40 to 80 million adults, can devour enough food to feed 35,000 people in a single day. The unavoidable negative impacts these pests will have on a significant part of the country’s economic stability make finding a solution even more critical.

Climate Change Agriculture and Food Security in Tanzania

A low-income country like Tanzania is highly vulnerable to the agricultural consequences of climate change due to its heavy reliance on rain-fed farming as a stable source of Gross domestic product inflow and food security.

As per a 2012 World Bank study document, climate-change-affected Tanzania’s agricultural productivity is more than 10 percent lower in a DRY scenario in contracts to control no-weather-change Tanzania by the mid-century [2041 to 2050] due to rises in temperature and shifts in rainfall patterns. Three of the four study scenarios [dry, wet, cold, and hot] had negative effects on food security in Tanzania, indicating the possibility of climate change’s detrimental consequences. Drought hazards and the unpredictability of climate changes and their effects on weather and the environment pose a threat to Tanzania’s future growth and its massive base of peasant farmers.


Despite the numerous difficulties that stand in the way of having complete food security in Tanzania, the country continues to discover methods to progress. As per the United States Agency for International Development [USAID], more than 190,000 acres of Tanzanian land have been enhanced in technology and agriculture. Furthermore, Tanzania’s and USAID’s engagement in promoting Long-lasting agriculture and a stronger focus on nutrition – otherwise known as the SDG [Sustainable Development Goals] – overall rice production per acre has doubled. The four-year ENGINE [Enabling Growth via Investments and Enterprise Program] is another collaborative crusade for food security in which Tanzania is involved. The program, run by the IESC [International Executive Service Corps], aims to speed up the evaluation and development of informational, regulatory, and financial channels that aid company growth and investment in Tanzania’s farming regions such as Morogoro, Iringa, Zanzibar, and Mbeya.

Effects on Population 

Physical Impacts

Tanzania Food Garden Network combating malnutrition in Chamazi, Tanzania orphanage
Tanzania Food Garden Network combating malnutrition in Chamazi, Tanzania orphanage

The poor food security in Tanzania is widespread and has a downstream effect on the country’s population. Tanzania has a persistent problem with malnourished citizens. As per a Brookings Tanzania research study, a large portion of rural Tanzanians – around 39.3 percent — are malnourished. As per the World Bank, 34 percent of Tanzanians indicate that they cannot meet their energy needs. A significant portion of this can be attributable to the disparity between Tanzania food production at the national level and food consumed at the individual level. Because not everyone in Tanzania has equal access to food, 34 percent of the inhabitants cannot achieve their daily calorie requirements. A shortage of nutritional variety in the food produced and consumed is another major cause of these deficiencies. As per a study published in the Acta Tropica journal, urban and rural Tanzanians rely significantly on carbohydrates — rice maize, ugali, and cassava – as their primary dietary source. While carbohydrates are a rich source of energy, they fall short of meeting all dietary requirements for a balanced lifestyle. It is evident by research conducted by the ERH [Ending Rural Hunger] in 2016: ” result: high levels of malnutrition are found, particularly among children below five years of age, causing the nation to record above-average malnutrition rate in comparison to other nations in the region… 58% and 45% of kids and women are anemic, respectively.”

Mental Impacts

In terms of its influence on the average citizen, food insecurity not only has negative physical (that is, malnutrition) consequences; food insecurity problems can also present themselves psychologically.

An initial study conducted in 2006 witnessed four cultural groups across two rural areas in Tanzania. Utilizing the USDA food security system in conjunction with the Hopkins Symptoms Checklist to appropriately measure food security and depression and anxiety, the research reveals a substantial similarity between food security standards and anxiety or depression. In summary, the poor food security in Tanzania is linked to a range of nutritional deficiencies in the nation’s population. Many of these deficiencies are linked to signs of depression and immune system performance. These links aren’t researched as frequently as other outcomes of food insecurity. Patil and Hadley’s 2006 study suggests that this lack of appropriate observation arises from a “lack of proper instruments to assess mental health effects in rural non-western contexts.”

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