Project Spotlight: Tanzania

An important piece of One Ndoto's work is education and advocacy. Along with sharing stories from the projects we work alongside, we believe in providing education about the cultural, societal and historical contexts of the communities we work in. Our aim is to provide insight into why things may be the way they are, how they got that way and inspire critical thinking when looking at development. The "Project Spotlight" blog series will focus on sharing more about the multiple contexts our projects are coming out of, and how those contexts impact the work we do. It's our hope that with this information, we can increase understanding of not only the need, but the importance, of our work and the approach we take.

Tanzania is home to One Ndoto's flagship project, the Pamoja Tunaweza Boys & Girls Club. Moshi is a small town in northern Tanzania in which the Club is based. Nestled on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro - Africa's tallest free-standing mountain - Moshi is a hub for tourists hiking to the mountain or venturing on safari. As the capital of the Kilimanjaro region, Moshi is the centre of government activities, trade, finance and tourism.

Let's take a closer look at Tanzania in general.

Fast Fasts About Tanzania

Population: 55,451,343 (July 2018 estimate)

  • Population of Moshi: 201,150 (2017 census)

  • Moshi's Population Density: 3,409 persons per square km

National Language: Swahili (official); English (official; primary language of commerce, administration, and higher education); many local languages


  • Christian 61.4%

  • Muslim 35.2%

  • Tribal 1.8%

  • Other 0.2%

Life Expectancy: 63 years

Gross Domestic Product (GDP): $51.76 billion (2017 estimate)

Industries: Agriculture (coffee, tea, sisal, cashew nuts, tobacco, spices, fruits); mining (diamonds, tanzanite, gold and iron); salt; oil refining

  • Industries in Moshi: Tourism; agriculture (coffee, tea); mining (Tanzanite); food and beverage production and national distribution

Population Below Poverty Line: 22.8% (2015 estimate)

Unemployment Rate: 9.7% (2018). That's 5,378,781 people.

Average monthly income: 419,500TSh / $182USD (2015 estimate)

The Historical Context

Tanzania has a long and complex history. A quick summary is provided below that highlights some key historical factors that had significant impacts in creating Tanzania as we know it today.

Dating back to the 13th through to the 15th century, the coast of Tanganyika was a hub for Portuguese and Arab trading ivory, gold and other goods. Early 18th century saw Zanzibar become the center for the Arab slave trade, visited by the Dutch, French and English.

The United Republic of Tanzania, more commonly known as Tanzania, is the result of unification between mainland Tanganyika and the island of Zanzibar in 1964. Tanganyika experienced colonization by the Germans from the 1880s - 1919, and then the British between 1919 - 1961. Tanganyika received its independence from the British in December 1961; Zanzibar secured its freedom through revolution in January 1964. Under the leadership of Mwalimu Julius K. Nyerere Tanganyika and Zanzibar united in 1964.

Nyerere introduced African socialism; the philosophy that was to guide Tanzania's development. Ujamaa (Swahili for extended), self-reliance, and austerity were the key facets of African socialism. Nyerere launched a program of villagization—the forced relocation of rural people into collective and cooperative villages—as the basis for economic development. While Nyerere is fondly look at as the Father of Tanzania, African socialism did not have the intended outcomes for the nation's development. In 1992, the constitution was amended to allow for multi-party political system.

Today, Tanzania operates as a unitary presidential democratic republic with a multi-party system. The President of Tanzania is both head of state and head of government. Since Independence, Tanzania has been ruled by Chama Cha Mapinduzi (Revolutionary State Party); currently under President Magufuli. Tanzania is currently ranked 99th out of 180 countries on the Corruption Perceptions Index, scoring 36/100.

So what does all this mean for Tanzania today?

History provides context for why things are the way they are in the present day. Tanzania's history of colonization, socialism and corruption greatly impact Tanzania as we know it today. A struggling economy, high-levels of poverty, high unemployment rates, low literacy and poor health care are a few of the societal impacts of Tanzania's history. Follow the Spotlight Series, as each week we discuss a the political, educational and health contexts in greater detail.


Embassy of the United Republic of Tanzania. About Tanzania. Retrieved from

BBC (November 2018). Tanzania profile - timeline. Retrieved from

This post was written by Emily Molzan, Executive Director of One Ndoto Canada.

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