Lyra works in the Iringa Region of Tanzania. Situated in East Africa, Tanzania's economy is based largely on agriculture. It has the lowest rate of high school enrolment in Africa. Tanzania is a stable country with annual economic growth of over 6% since 2000. But there is a disconnect between urban and rural economies. National growth has not reduced poverty in rural areas where subsistence farming is the main activity. Many rural families are stuck in a poverty trap.
1. EXTREME POVERTY MEANS BARELY MEETING BASIC NEEDS.
68% of the population live below the international poverty line of US$1.25 per day.
That means, sometimes going hungry. 52% of 0-2 year olds in Iringa are stunted due to malnutrition. It means basic living standards. 84% of rural households have a floor made of earth, sand and dung. 5% have access to electricity. It means basic equipment for farming and very low yields. 99% of farmers use hand hoes. 14% have access to improved seeds or fertiliser. Just 3% use oxcarts and 0.2% use tractors.
Agricultural productivity has hardly changed since Independence in 1961. It is very hard for families to meet medical and education costs, and have anything left over to invest to improving their income.
2. POORER CHILDREN ARE LESS LIKELY TO BE IN SCHOOL.
Just 9% of the poorest children are in secondary school, compared with 49% of children from the wealthiest households.
Children out of school are more vulnerable. HIV infection rates are up to 16% in the Districts where Lyra works. But only 37% of girls and 42% of boys understand prevention methods. Girls’ secondary education has been consistently linked to lower HIV infection rates. That’s because educated girls have more knowledge, income, and decision-making power.
3. GIRLS OUT OF SCHOOL PERPETUATES THE POVERTY CYCLE FOR THE NEXT GENERATION.
Women with no education have twice as many children as secondary educated women. 7% of girls are married by 15 and 37% by 18. Nearly half of Tanzanian women have a child by 19. Tanzania’s population is expected to double from 50 million in 2016 to 100 million by 2035. That means more families trapped in the poverty cycle and more children not in school.
Primary school enrolment peaked at 98% in 2007. But it’s dropping annually as the population grows. It now stands at 85%. Getting girls into secondary school is the best way to reverse this trend. When girls have the power to choose, they opt for smaller families. And women reinvest 90% of their income in their families, compared with 30-40% for men.
WE ARE WORKING TO ADDRESS THESE PROBLEMS IN TWO WAYS:
1. Investing in girls' education.
Educating girls = Smaller, healthier, better educated, and more prosperous families
2. Investing in community enterprise, particularly women. So that families can access training and credit for higher income initiatives.