Challenges in the Community
Bukoba town is regional headquarters for Kagera Region. The region has been ranked as one of the most deprived in the country. From the latest analysis of Bukoba Municipal Council, poverty has been highlighted as one of the major problems facing the Tanzania since independence. Although some measures have been taken to alleviate poverty in the country, the proportion of the poor compared to the total population continues to grow and the gap between the rich and the poor widens.
What is poverty? Poverty has been defined as the cost of meeting the basic needs necessary for maintaining a minimum standard of living i.e. food, clothing and shelter. The cost of minimum nutritional requirement is the most important component of the basic needs approach to the measurement of poverty. However, the definition has been broadened to include social-economic indicators of well being such as:
∑ high rate of morbidity and mortality;
∑ high infant and maternal mortality rates;
∑ disease prevalence and malnutrition;
∑ low life expectance;
∑ poor housing quality;
∑ low per capita income;
∑ high fertility rate; and
∑ lack of access to basic services like water, food, insecurity and poor technology.
Poverty is, generally, a result of many and often mutually reinforcing factors. For example a lack of money for education causes people to stay illiterate. Illiterate people have less job opportunities resulting in a lack of money for food, housing etc. and therefore causes poverty. Itís a vicious circle. Other causes of poverty are natural calamities as floods, drought etc. or man-made calamities e.g. war.
In Bukoba, as revealed in a study carried out in the year 2000, 50% of the population lives below the poverty line. The factors leading to this are:
∑ lack of access to basic needs;
∑ low incomes due to lack of capital & human assets;
∑ high unemployment rates brought about by lack of industries, and other employment ventures;
∑ coffee is the only cash crop. Prices have dropped from 540Tshs for 1Kg to 80Tsh for the same;
∑ access to education, health, survival and nutrition; and
∑ land inaccessibility, especially for women.
Creation of community awareness on poverty is of paramount importance. HI, with the help of the Bukoba Municipal Council and other NGOs, will help support in creating awareness to the community. This will be done by putting up a billboard educating the community of the definition of poverty since most of the community still defines poverty as lack of money.
Women, orphans, the physically handicapped and the youth are mostly the poor in the community. Certain factors have led to this trend and the aforesaid groups need to be supported by all the stakeholders to raise their standards of living. Cultural and traditional beliefs should be forgotten and development should come to the forefront of the community at large.