ActionAid's HungerFREE Scorecard Investigates why a Billion People are Hungry. Yesterday Action Aid asked the question on Twitter: 'Which developing country do you think is closest to tackling hunger? Tweet us with your guess! (Answer will be revealed at 6pm.)'
Yesterday I noted that I found something so important being made silly in such a context just for the sake of creating awareness. Respect to the people, however, who combine research with advocacy and awareness in the interest of the poor. I looked into the report this morning, limiting myself to Tanzania. While some countries may talk about progress towards the Millenium Development Goals, Tanzania still has a long way to go before the fulfilment of the government's slogan (2009): Maisha Bora Kila Mtanzania:
An estimated 35 percent of Tanzanians go hungry during an average year, but recently this situation has been exacerbated by an extended drought in the centre and north of the country.
While the government has been steadily increasing agriculture financing and has a good sector plan, it could do much more to redress years of neglect. The budget for agriculture plummeted after liberalisation to 2.8 percent in 2001, from around 16 percent in the 1980s. Since then, it has risen steadily, to around 7 percent this year.
While the Tanzanian government should be congratulated on this increase, they could still do more to reach the 10 percent required by the Maputo Declaration. Much more of this budget could be targeted at smallholders, particularly through better credit and extension services – too much is currently being swallowed up by the provision of chemical fertilisers; support for organic fertilisers must also be introduced.
Critical to the future of Tanzania’s agriculture will be improving water management and irrigation - vital in defending a rural economy which the World Food Programme describes as "highly susceptible to climatic shocks".
Tanzania also needs to rationalise its policies. The government-backed expansion of agro-fuels has shifted more than 600,000 hectares of fertile land suitable for food production into the cultivation of agrofuel crops. This has led to an unregulated scramble for arable land by companies, with no regulatory framework to secure land for food production which is unacceptable in the face of a looming famine.
Might be relevant material to present to the Tanzanian government, asking the question from the headline: Is the Tanzanian goverment seriously fighting hunger? And what happened to Kilimo Kwanza?
Download the full report here.