Witnessing Impact: The UN’s Transformative Initiatives in Tanzania
If you think of Tanzania, you might daydream about a safari through the Serengeti to see the Great Migration, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak, or relaxing on Zanzibar’s white sandy beaches. The typical traveler might not see much beyond these geological wonders, with Tanzania’s challenges hidden from view such as “child stunting,” a lack of growth due to severe malnutrition, the poaching of elephants for illegal trade, or the lack of electricity and safe drinking water in rural areas. This too is Tanzania, with a population where almost 50% are under the age of 15.
I had the opportunity to see this side of Tanzania and to see the work of the United Nations first hand, when I traveled there recently with a UN Foundation delegation. The UN’s work was every bit as inspirational as the natural beauty that surrounded us.
I discovered how 26 UN agencies, through the oversight of the UN Resident Coordinator, provide economic resources to support Tanzania’s national development priorities to address these inhibiting factors. For instance,
- UNICEF addresses the decline in childhood vaccinations by integrating COVID-19 vaccinations with routine childhood immunizations;
- UN Women worked with the government to end child marriage by raising the required age to from 15 to 18;
- UNESCO supports technical education to provide young people essential job skills; and
- UN Development Programme has supported the creation of rapid response forces to combat poaching, while supporting nearby communities on wildlife management.
Hearing about these programs and many others during high level meetings at UN House Tanzania and the U.S. Embassy was one thing, but seeing how they connect to a local community really hit home.
My most memorable moment was taking part in the Tungamelanga’s Village Health and Nutrition Day, organized by UNICEF and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). These events are hosted quarterly by village and ward level authorities, in close collaboration with Community Health Workers and nearby health facilities to offer people living in rural areas easier access to integrated health and nutrition services.
During the tour, I witnessed babies being weighed and measured to identify those who may be stunted or underweight. I saw community workers explain preventive care to pregnant women. I learned about Plumpy’Nut, a peanut-based paste in a plastic wrapper used for the treatment of severe acute malnutrition. I even watched a healthy food cooking demonstration that reminded me of a Sunday dinner at my mom’s house. It was incredible to witness all of this, and I am glad I had the opportunity to thank the community on behalf of our delegation for welcoming us and sharing how they collaborate with UN agencies to build a stronger, healthier Tanzania.
We spent less than four days in Tanzania. However, I walked away more inspired and motivated to mobilize our UNA-USA community to advocate for full U.S. funding and strong U.S. leadership at the UN and the advancement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.