Poverty colours every aspect of children’s lives in Tanzania. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Because of our work, babies who once would have died in their first weeks are surviving. Children stunted by malnutrition are growing up healthier. Children subject to violence or abuse now have recourse to justice.

“We’re looking at 42% of children not reaching their potential because they’re malnourished. These are Tanzania’s future adults – almost half the population running under par. What’s the future for the country if half its under-fives are already challenged?” says Rachel Pounds, Save the Children country director, Tanzania.

We’re working with the government and others to help tens of thousands of children nationwide.

  • Our kangaroo mother care is saving infants’ lives.
  • Our ‘one-stop centre’ in Zanzibar is changing child protection.
  • In 2011 we reached 168,000 children and adults with pioneering programmes in protection, health, nutrition and child rights.

The challenges

In Tanzania, if you’re from a poor family, your life chances are stacked against you from the start.

“42% of children under five in Tanzania are stunted [suffer permanent physical or mental damage because of malnutrition],” says our Tanzania programme director, Rachel Pounds.

“If this were a country with frequent droughts, or if it were war-torn, it would be understandable. But Tanzania doesn’t have a massive food shortage, and it’s not at war. So why are these children stunted?”

Just as surely as war or disaster, poverty costs lives.

What we’ve achieved

Saving babies

Nearly a third of children under five who die, lose their lives before they’re a month old.

Our kangaroo care programme teaches parents of premature and underweight infants how to keep them alive. In 2011 we saved nearly 3,000 lives by helping the Ministry of Health roll out kangaroo mother care in 21 hospitals, all serving as centres of excellence. 

Yasini was born two months premature in a hospital in Tanzania where there is no incubator. Luckily, his mum, Zainabu was taught a special technique called Kangaroo Mother Care, by Grace – a Save the Children trained midwife – that saved his life.

Grace showed Zainabu how using skin-to-skin contact could keep him warm. Zainabu was like an incubator, helping to regulate Yasini's temperature and heartbeat.

Watch him open his eyes for the first time and see the joy on his mother's face.

7 million children

We’re the leading organisation in a national partnership of 112 groups lobbying for the national nutrition strategy to be made part of district government plans. If all local authorities implement it, 7 million children under five, and 2.5 million mothers, will be better nourished and healthier.

Changing the face of child protection

We’re changing the way people perceive abuse – which is seen as something shameful, but about which nothing can be done. The model is our ‘one-stop centre’ at the hospital in Stonetown, Zanzibar, offering healthcare, social workers and police – all the elements needed by victims of physical or psychological abuse. Both government and donors want to see it rolled out nationwide.

“They know their rights”

When we educated children, teachers and parents about abuse, hundreds of cases were reported – and the authorities took action. “Let me tell you,” said one primary school head teacher, “the children here now know their rights – a big difference compared to three years ago.” The independent evaluators of our project said that we had “significantly contributed to change in the behavior and lives of children”.

What’s urgent now

We’re pressing for bigger, transparent and sustainable national budgets for maternal, newborn and child health. We’re training 5,000 health workers and helping health facilities and communities to identify and treat children under five with malaria, pneumonia and diarrhea. 

We aim to reach 25% more under-fives with high-impact healthcare by 2015. We also plan to help many more underweight and stunted under fives and lactating mothers. Find out more about how we plan to keep more children and mothers alive.

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