Environment key to poverty reduction in Tanzania

Three years after adopting the Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS) approach, Tanzania will be taking another step, embarking on the second phase with a nationwide framework putting poverty reduction high on the country’s development agenda.
By Blandina Cheche and David Howlett, Poverty Environment Officers, Vice President’s Office

The National Strategy for Growth and Reduction of Poverty (NSGRP) or Mkukuta as it is known in its Swahili acronym builds on the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) of 2000, which was linked to debt relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative (HIPC). The Mkukuta represents a new, more comprehensive approach to poverty reduction. Although it is built on its predecessor, it differs in a number of key areas. In particular it pays greater attention to cross-the-board issues such as environmental sustainability that contribute to both poverty reduction and growth.

This follows the realisation by the government of Tanzania, national stakeholders and development partners that the first PRSP failed to properly address the environment and other important major issues, essential to achieving sustainable poverty reduction and growth.

A key feature of the review leading to the NSGRP was national ownership and the implementation of extensive consultation with a wide range of stakeholders on content and focus. The strategy also makes explicit mention of sustainable development as a basic principle. Allowance for the environment complies with the requirements of target 9 under MDG 7.

A number of factors explain the need to integrate the environment in the NSGRP. The majority of the population depends on the environment and natural resources for its livelihood, with use of the environment and natural resources accounting for 66% of gross domestic product. Conversely poor environmental conditions are a major cause of ill health. A proper supply of water is needed, for drinking, irrigation and hydroelectric power. Much as elsewhere, the poor in Tanzania are at the greatest risk from environmental disasters, and the country has suffered from the increasing frequency of droughts and floods. With respect to governance, access, rights and control over the environment and natural resources are key factors in the development of sustainable livelihoods. Lastly the abundance and, more commonly, scarcity of natural resources has previously triggered conflicts in the mining and water sectors.

To integrate the environment into the poverty reduction process, a programme was developed at the Poverty Eradication Division in the Vice President’s office with the support of the UNDP, DFID, Danida and now UNEP. The programme has three parts.

The first priority is knowledge and a better understanding of the links between poverty and the environment. Work has included studies of connections between poverty and environmental policies, and the first public review to establish levels, trends and distribution of environmental expenditure and revenue. The potential of a Strategic Environment Assessment for poverty reduction in Tanzania has also been considered.

Second, environmental data is being integrated in poverty reduction and local planning to determine the impacts of policies and plans on related issues. In particular a preliminary set of poverty-environment indicators has been added to the poverty monitoring system. Linked to the NSGRP a major study is underway to further refine this indicator set and link it to routine data collection and reporting on the MDGs. To obtain a national baseline for the environment and livelihoods, key questions were included in the 2003 agricultural survey. They will also be added to the environment module of the Tanzania Social Economic Database.

Finally capacity must be built at national and local level to better address poverty and environmental issues in future interventions. A new environmental management system has been developed to protect the environment and livelihoods. The government has set up an environment working group with broad membership, the aim being to promote integration of environmental factors into development policies, with plans to achieve sustainable use of the environment and natural resources for poverty reduction.

The programme on poverty and the environment and the focus on crossthe- board issues is directly responsible for the inclusion of the environment in the NSGRP. As part of the consultation process, civil society organisations and an environment working group submitted proposals on the environment and natural resources. Among others they explained how enhancing the environment, natural resources and conservation can contribute to achieving the new strategy’s goals and targets. This is an essential step as it focuses thinking on how the environment contributes to the NSGRP clusters and outcomes.

It is worth noting that 15 of the NSGRP’s 108 targets are directly related to the environment and natural resources, and that interventions on the environment are expected to contribute to other targets.

Efforts have focused on work that will help achieve the goals and targets under each of these clusters of broad outcomes. For example one cluster aims to promote sustainable, comprehensive growth, targeting 6-8% growth in GDP growth by 2010. To achieve this the NSGRP will be working on the sustainable management of catchments to ensure water and energy services are provided for the economy and to support livelihoods. Under the fourth goal – raising income among men and women in rural areas – the NSGRP will seek to increase jobs related to the use of natural resources, with a greater share of benefits from wildlife, forests and fisheries for local communities. Under the second cluster the NSGRP has a specific environmentally related goal of giving all men, women and children access to clean affordable safe water, sanitation, decent shelter and a safe and sustainable environment, thereby reducing vulnerability to environmental risks. The cluster includes a target for reducing pollution levels and vulnerability to drought and flooding, with subsidiary strategies on pollution control and prevention, sanitation and solid waste management, desertification and drylands. Similar interventions are expected to contribute to the second goal of reducing infant, child and maternal mortality, morbidity and malnutrition.

Importantly action on the environment is expected to help achieve governance and accountability goals. For example attention will focus on access to and control over natural resources and reducing related corruption, for instance for illegal logging.

Although Tanzania has taken significant steps to make the environment a key element in future policy, there are still challenges to implementing the measures defined by the NSGRP and developing operational guidance at a local levels. The main challenges are integrating the environment in policy, regional and local planning, and budgets; making it an essential component of growth and development policies, notably public health; increasing community-based programmes for managing natural resources that impact on livelihoods and growth; reducing vulnerability to environmental risks; and collating data for poverty and environment indicators and reporting on MDG 7.

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