Tanzania made significant progress in improving nutrition among children under 5 years of age.
During the period 1992– 2015, there was a tangible reduction in the number of underweight children and in those suffering from chronic malnourishment. However, despite these gains, concerns persist regarding the high rates of stunting among children and the stark disparities in nutritional status. Progress on various indicators has been either stagnant or has slipped.
In 2015, more than 2.7 million Tanzanian children under 5 years of age were estimated to be stunted and more than 600,000 were suffering from acute malnutrition, of which 100,000 were severe cases.
There are huge variations in the nutritional status of children under 5 years of age. Ten regions account for 58 per cent of all stunted children and five regions account for half of the children suffering from severe acute malnutrition in Tanzania. All three forms of undernutrition are higher among children from the poorest quintile than the richest quintile and higher among boys than girls.
Given the importance of nutrition in the overall physical and cognitive development of children, there is a need to focus on the first 1,000 days of a child’s life to prevent the negative effects of malnutrition from becoming irreversible. This requires a multi-pronged approach to address risk factors ranging from inadequate food and illness to poor access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene.
High rates of anaemia and low body mass index among adolescent girls and pregnant women are also causes of concern. Investing in nutrition is essential for Tanzania to progress. It is estimated that the country will lose US$20 billion by 2025 if the nutrition situation does not improve. In contrast, by investing in nutrition and improving the population's nutritional status, the country could gain up to US$4.7 billion by 2025.
What is UNICEF doing?
UNICEF works with government and other partners to elevate nutrition within Tanzania’s national plans and priorities. UNICEF also supports districts to implement the National Food and Nutrition Policy. In terms of the United Nations Development Assistance Plan (2016– 2021), UNICEF has a lead role in focusing on equity to improve the nutritional status of children and women in Tanzania.
UNICEF is working with the government and other partners to implement a multi-sectoral nutrition response; scale-up high-impact nutrition interventions and services; and respond to the nutritional needs of refugees and other children affected by emergencies. UNICEF supports the inclusion of chronically poor pregnant women and young children as beneficiaries of regular cash transfers, to protect food supply and consumption and to help vulnerable families invest in the nutrition, health and education of their children during times of stress and hardship.
Working through local partners, UNICEF also ensures that the poorest and most marginalized households in Mbeya, Iringa, Njombe, Songwe and Zanzibar are targeted with messages and promotion of infant and young child feeding and care practices.
What we want to achieve by 2021
- Improved maternal, infant, and young child nutrition services
- Improved micronutrient supplementation and fortification services
- Improved available integrated management of severe acute malnutrition services
- Improved capacity of relevant ministry departments and select local government authorities to implement a multi-sectoral nutrition response at national, regional and district level
- Operationalized multi-sectoral nutrition information and surveillance systems