SPEECH BY AMBASSADOR OMBENI Y. SEFUE, CHIEF SECRETARY, THE UNITED REPULIC OF TANZANIA, AT THE OPENING OF COMMUNITY OF PRACTICE OF CASH TRANSFERS AND CONDITIONAL CASH TRANSFERS FACE TO FACE FORUM, HELD AT OCEANIC BAY HOTEL AND RESORT, BAGAMOYO, 24TH APRIL 2012
Acting World Bank Country Director for Tanzania,
Uganda and Burundi, Ms. Mukami Kariuki,
TASAF Executive Director, Mr. Ladislaus Mwamanga,
Ladies and Gentlemen.
It gives me great pleasure to join you this morning for this Face to Face Event, which is taking place in the United Republic of Tanzania for the first time. The people and Government of this country are greatly honoured to host this event because we believe in social protection and are committed to working with others to improve and better target social protection interventions. I am aware that delegates from more than eight countries are here; and that some have come to Tanzania for the first time. We also have people from the World Bank and UNICEF. I welcome you all to Tanzania, not only for this particular event, but also to explore the beauty of our country.
This event comes at a time when the world is still struggling with the challenges that arose out of the global economic and financial crisis, which has adversely impacted on the social and economic well-being of people in all nations. Needless to say, developing countries, which did not cause this crisis, have suffered the most because by definition their economies have less resilience and have weak capacity to absorb such external shocks.
Like many other developing countries, Tanzania has been adversely affected by this crisis. Economic growth has slowed down, inflation has risen as well as unemployment. Important sectors such as tourism and exports have suffered. Inflow of Foreign Direct Investment has been affected as some investors adopted a more cautious approach to investment. All this in the end affects government revenue and hence government capacity to deliver for the people and to invest in public utilities and infrastructure necessary for rapid economic growth and poverty reduction.
Furthermore, these challenges are aggravated by the effects of climate change including drought, floods and unpredictable weather. For an economy whose agricultural sector is heavily dependent on rain, this has affected production in the agricultural sector, hence affecting food security and distribution. It has also strained our capacity to deal with natural disasters.
In such a situation, measures and interventions are necessary to provide succour to poor people, especially vulnerable individuals such as orphans, poor people with disabilities, single parents, widows, the elderly, unemployed youths, and people infected with or affected by HIV/AIDS, among others.
Historically, the immediate as well as the extended family in Africa always provided a system of social protection. However, in the wake of the HIV/AIDS pandemic and the changing economic and social environment, the system is overwhelmed and can no longer be relied upon to provide full social protection. The Government of the United Republic of Tanzania has recognized the need for developing the National Social Protection Framework intended to address issues pertaining to social protection in a more organized and coordinated manner, involving as many stakeholders as possible at all levels.
Among the most important initiatives that have been undertaken to address social protection challenges in Tanzania, is the Tanzania Social Action Fund (TASAF), which we established with World Bank support in 2000. TASAF is a uniquely qualified intervention that simultaneously empowers poor people to determine their own priorities, to plan their response to the challenges they face, to mobilize their own resources and to make the best use of external support. TASAF has given us an opportunity to learn how best we can make appropriate interventions that address the basic needs of poor people. Through the community-driven development approach, social services have been improved and the capacity of the people at the grassroots level has been enhanced.
Community participation has put ownership of the development process firmly in the hands of poor people. They make their own decisions for their own development. Our experience is that this has enhanced accountability and transparency. I am told this is especially so when women are put in charge of the finances. Through TASAF poor people define poverty in their own terms and identify which households need more support than others.
Throughout the period that TASAF has been operational, more than 5,632 community sub projects worth more than Tshs.300 billion were supported. As a result, today 7.6 million people have access to improved social services. Furthermore, 1,492 public works sub projects have been supported benefiting about two million members in food insecure households, and 5,823 projects have been supported benefiting 1.65 million members of vulnerable households.
Additionally, TASAF has supported more than 5,000 poor households and 13,081 beneficiaries participating in a conditional cash transfer programme.
Furthermore, 1,778 voluntary savings groups have been formed with 21,712 individual savers in the targeted 46 Local Government Authorities. Some groups have invested in other income generating sub projects, such as rice production, vegetable growing, poultry keeping, kiosks and so on.
Overall, TASAF has benefited 15,320,583 people who now have access to social, economic and market services from the assets created by implementing various types of community projects at the grassroots.
TASAF intervention in safety nets has given us good lessons which are being used to improve the livelihood of targeted beneficiaries and entire communities. Implementation of safety nets has improved the lives of our people in the following ways:
Let me repeat what I said at the beginning. The Government of Tanzania has recognized the need for developing the National Social Protection Framework in order to address issues pertaining to social protection in a more organized, holistic and coordinated manner, involving as many stakeholders as possible.
Additionally, our long term policies, such as Development Vision 2025, recognize the importance of enabling the most marginalized groups and households to work for a better life, and to stand on their own feet. The same applies in our medium and short-term plans, such as the National Strategy for Growth and Reduction of Poverty (NSGRP II), and the 5-Year Development Plan, covering the period from 2010 to 2015.
We are committed to this course, and we will pursue it to make sure that our people are better served and empowered to counter the negative effects of poverty, especially for the most vulnerable households, and particularly when natural disasters strike.
Let me, in conclusion, state the obvious. This Face to Face event offers an invaluable opportunity for Tanzanian experts to learn from their counterparts and to share our experiences. I see that, present in this room, is a wealth of knowledge, experience and expertise brought together by the participating experts and practitioners from different countries and international organizations. We in Tanzania look forward to learning from others, especially on how best to design and manage Conditional Cash Transfers (CCT) and other Cash Transfer (CT) programmes. And, as I said, we on our part are also ready to share our experience gained from our social protection advancement endeavours.
It is my sincere hope that your deliberations will benefit each participant and the respective institutions they are representing. Together, through learning from each other, we can shape our policies and procedures to ensure that we maximise the benefits of CCT and CT. I urge everyone to participate actively in all discussions so that the final outcome of this event would be relevant and useful to policy makers at various levels of decision making in our respective countries and beyond. We can, and we should, play our part in global efforts to make poverty history.
With these few remarks, it is now my honour and pleasure to declare this Forum on Community of Practice on Cash Transfers and Conditional Cash Transfers officially opened.
I wish you all the best, and I thank you for your kind attention.