Thursday, March 4, 2010

Current Social, Economic, and Political Issues

In 1964, after Tanganyika and Zanzibar merged, and the newly independent Tanzania was founded, its first president was the important Tanzanian leader, Julius Nyerere. In 1967, Nyerere issued the Arusha Declaration calling for Tanzania to adopt policies of egalitarianism, socialism, and self-reliance.1 While the new policies resulted in the building of new schools and the improvement of water delivery to various parts of the country, the decision to establish communal farms was a disaster, resulting in huge reductions in agricultural production.2 By the 1980s, it was clear that the economic policies adopted by Tanzania in the Arusha Declaration had failed. Nyerere resigned from the presidency in 1985 although he remained an important political leader in the country. Tanzania suffered a large devaluation in its currency, saw its education and healthcare systems nearly collapse and its industrial production slow down. Tanzania’s economic crisis continued through the early 1990s. Foreign donors to Tanzania blamed the country’s one-party system and socialist policies for many of the problems. As a result of pressure from foreign donors, Tanzania repealed its laws providing for a one-party political system. Since then, a number of political parties have emerged in Tanzania. But the country’s president continues to be the dominant political force.3 The last two presidents have been pursuing economic reforms but the country is still one of the poorest countries in Africa.4

In addition to politics, a number of problems contribute to Tanzania’s poor economic condition. The country is plagued by tsetse flies that inflict the people and animals of Tanzania.5 As a result, much of the population lives on the border of the country, leaving much of the central land empty.6 Additionally, the population is dramatically lacking in medical professionals, with only “1 doctor for every 229000 people.”7 Due to the prevalence of subsistence farming, a huge part of the population lives in poverty.8 The reliance on agriculture is also being affected, as “land degradation is reducing the productivity of soils in many parts of Tanzania…Factors…include, among others, inappropriate cultivation techniques; a growing population; growing energy requirements; overstocking; and insecure land tenure.”9 Another issue affecting soil quality is the shift from “long periods of fallow with short periods of farming” to “long periods of farming with short fallow periods. This practice does not allow sufficient time for revegetation and recovery of soil fertility.”10

1. "Tanazina." The Columbia Encyclopedia. 6th ed. Columbia University Press, 2004. Questia Online Library. Web. 27 Feb. 2010.

2. Iliffe, John. Africans: The History of a Continent. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995. Print. 254.

3. “Tanzania.” Encyclopedia of Africa South of the Sahara. 4 vols. Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1997. Reproduced in History Resource Center. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale.

4. "Tanazina." The Columbia Encyclopedia. 6th ed. Columbia University Press, 2004. Questia Online Library. Web. 27 Feb. 2010.

5. "Tanzania - History and Background." State University. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Mar. 2010.

6. “Tanzania – History and Background.”

7. “Tanzania – History and Background.”

8. "Problems Identified in Tanzania by World Organizations". N.d. PDF file.

9. “Problems Identified in Tanzania by World Organizations.”

10. “Problems Identified in Tanzania by World Organizations.”

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