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Key findings
  • Six in 10 Tanzanians believe the country is going in the right direction (62%) and the government is handling the economy “fairly well” or “very well” (59%) – both striking improvements from 2014.
  • But despite slight gains, about six in 10 respondents still describe the country’s economic situation (62%) and their personal living conditions (58%) as fairly/very bad.
  • A majority (57%) of Tanzanians say the country’s economic situation is “worse” or “much worse” than a year ago. But the proportion of respondents who are optimistic that things will improve in a year’s time has almost doubled since 2014, to 38%.
  • Popular assessments of the government’s performance have improved on a range of issues, including management of the economy. But only one-quarter (23%) of Tanzanians say the government is doing well on food security, down from 43% in 2014.
  • Growing numbers of Tanzanians report going without basic necessities, including four in 10 who went without enough clean water (42%) and without medical care (40%) at least “several times” during the previous year. Three-fourths (76%) say they went without a cash income at least “several times.”

Over the past two decades, Africa has recorded high levels of economic growth. Tanzania has enjoyed Africa’s second-fastest-growing economy, behind Côte d’Ivoire, including average annual growth of almost 7% between 2012 and 2016 (International Monetary Fund, 2016). In line with the well-documented link between sustained economic growth and poverty reduction (Dollar, Kleineberg, & Kraay, 2013), estimates of basic-needs and extreme poverty declined, and the 2012 Household Budget Survey reported that the poverty headcount had dropped from 38.6% in 1991 to 28.4% (National Bureau of Statistics, 2014; World Bank, 2015). In addition to the creation of more and better jobs, Tanzania has recorded an increase in gross national income per capita from $320 in 2003 to $900 in 2016 (Kinyondo & Pelizzo, 2018).

But are these promising macroeconomic trends improving the lives of everyday citizens? Results of the most recent Afrobarometer survey show that Tanzanians think their country is on the right track and are increasingly satisfied with their government’s economic management. But majorities still describe the economy and their own living conditions as bad, and the experience of lived poverty may be on the rise.

Stephen Mwombela

Stephen Mwombela is the co-national investigator for Tanzania

Lulu Olan’g

Lulu Olan'g is a freelance researcher and a PhD student at Nazarbayev University in<br /> Kazakhstan

Thadeus Mboghoina

Thadeus Mboghoina is an assistant researcher for REPOA in Dar es Salaam