29 November 2016

Tanzania: Finnish Aid - Changing Lives in Tanzania


From support for 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence to supporting forestry programmes, Finnish aid to Tanzania cannot be overstated.

It is imperative that we remember how effectively Finland has aligned its assistance funding with Tanzania's development needs vis-à-vis the National Five Year Development Plan 2016/17-2020/21 and Vision 2025.

Despite a reduction in development aid from the Finnish government to countries such as Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Zambia and Nepal, Finland still maintains a huge assistance programme.

It is worth noting that in its development aid strategy, Finland aims to ensure that its cooperation with Tanzania moves from aid to trade, economic cooperation, research and culture.

The recent visit to Kenya and Tanzania by the Nordic country's minister for International Trade and Development, Mr Kai Mykkänen, was instructive, bearing in mind that Finland's foreign relations are premised on trade.

Mr Mykkänen led a delegation that included representatives of over 20 private companies specialising in energy, water and sanitation, technology, agriculture value addition and education.

Tanzania one of the largest recipients of Finnish aid, and it goes without saying that Finnish aid to Tanzania has generally produced desirable results.

Besides, Tanzania is the fastest developing economy in East Africa. The country's economic growth has generally been steady over the last decade, averaging between five and seven per cent. Projected growth for 2016 is about seven per cent.

Not surprisingly, Tanzania has attracted enviable quantities of foreign direct investment in recent years, thanks to its rapidly developing industrial sector.

In 2015 alone, 665,787 euros (Sh1.5 billion) was disbursed through the Finnish embassy to local organisations that work with the community in diverse areas of interest.

These funds for local cooperation (FLC) aim to build partnerships among civil society organisations, private sector and the Finnish embassy to support the organisations so that they can operate more effectively.

Through the FLC arrangement, the organisations can, for example, influence policy processes, monitor government actions or enhance service delivery to vulnerable groups with the ultimate aim of reducing poverty and promoting human rights. The funding decisions are made on an annual basis.

Organisations such as the Zanzibar Legal Aid Centre, Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition, Tanzania Youth Organisation and Kilimanjaro Women Information all received funding that, among other things, assist them to build their capacity to intervene in gender-based violence issues.

Gender violence is fuelled by many factors, including traditions, faith and community beliefs. It is going to take much more than funding to curb gender violence directed at our daughters. They are neither safe at home nor in school. Education, such as that provided through Paukwa Children's Arts Festival, has become crucial in awareness creation. This too got FLC support.

Finnish support for the forestry sub-sector is an investment that continues to offer hope in an area that employs nearly 2 million Tanzanians.

Mr Mykkänen described the cooperation between Finland and Tanzania in forestry as unique, noting that Tanzanian's Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, Tanzanian Forestry Service (TFS), civil society as well as other forestry stakeholders have been Finland's long-term partners in sustainable forestry development.

Team Finland in Tanzania, led by Ambassador Pekka Hukka, is no doubt more than willing to offer Tanzania a helping hand in its endeavour to become a middle-income country by 2025. The objective seems fairly realistic now that Tanzania is about to reap the benefits of an imminent gas boom. Tanzania is part of the East African Community, which, with its 130 million inhabitants, is one of the fastest growing regions in the world.

The forthcoming transition is the most profound in the history of Tanzania, which hopes to leapfrog from an underdeveloped agrarian economy in the next few years to an urbanised society driven by ICT. Tanzania, with a population of 45 million, already has more than 30 million mobile subscribers and technological change is accelerating at a breathtaking pace. Finland can support this change through its know-how and export of education.


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