Research Theme 4 - Social Services, Social Protection and Quality of Life

Issues related to social services and social protections are increasingly becoming very crucial in the process of economic transformation and the aftermath of the climate change; but also in view of growing inequality in the developing world. There is a rising consciousness of the benefits of social services and social protection, as a measure to protect people from becoming trapped into poverty and misery, to empower them to seize opportunities, to help workers to adjust to changes and to deal with the consequences of unemployment and thus support productivity.

Therefore, the importance of social services and social protection systems that address and reduce inequality, and social exclusion for long-term sustainable and inclusive growth, will be taken into consideration in ESRF’s research agenda.

We need to know about the mechanisms and the channels through which social services and social protection more generally benefit the most vulnerable in the developing world. Social services and social protection can also support the achievement of poverty reduction, by raising incomes in the short run, allowing people to build up their assets and thereby accelerating growth, with positive spill-overs felt in the community. For example, evidence seems to suggest that social protection could reduce the poverty head count ratio by 5 percent to 10 percent, thus contributing substantially to the achievement of SDG-1 (Social services cover health, education and water). It should be noted that the issue of employment has been cited in Core Research Theme No.1.

Sub-Theme 1: Enhancing Social Service Delivery in Health, Education and Water

Inclusive growth or shared growth manifests itself on the ground significantly through the creation of employment as well as through social welfare benefits. The social services are the epitome of poverty reduction.

Social services will form a self-contained topic for priority attention by ESRF research because of their implication in facilitating sustainable development in Tanzania. The research questions related to this sub theme which ESRF intends to focus on include:

    (a) Baseline studies for social service projects and programmes;

    (b) Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) of the social service projects and programmes; ;

    (c) Budgeting and financing of the social service sectors in Tanzania; ;

    (d) Public Expenditure Tracking in social service sectors; ;

    (e) Impacts of social services on poverty reduction; and;

    (f) Free education which started in January 2016 in Tanzania will also be researched and inform policy accordingly. ;

Sub-Theme 2: Social Protection

About 90 percent of Tanzanians have no institutionalized protection cover in the event of life accidents, livelihood shocks or severe deprivation. A small number (mostly people living in urban areas) have formal social security and health insurance with modest benefits. In Tanzania, children suffer from severe domestic insecurity. There are over two million children who have lost both parents or are abandoned. Significant foreign investments in the National Costed Plan of Action for Most Vulnerable Children have improved children’s access to basic rights (food, education and health services) but the scale of reach falls short of the number of vulnerable children. In addition, there has been little focus in identifying and responding to children in serious need of protection from abuse, violence and exploitation. The structures, systems and services for protecting children, especially those with disabilities, are lacking. Women’s rights to protection from abuse and violence are similarly neglected.

This creates a need for a comprehensive national system of social protection that will provide adequate coverage to needy groups and help translate Tanzania’s decent record of economic growth into increased protection for its most vulnerable people. A draft national Social Protection Framework (SPF) targeting vulnerable groups has been proposed. However, the process of preparing a plan for how it will work and how it will be supported is still on-hold, pending the Framework’s approval. In order to gauge and understand the magnitude of insecurity and vulnerability so as to inform the social protection process in the country, ESRF research agenda will focus on the following specific areas, among others:

    (a) What are the mechanisms through which social safety nets and social protection can protect the most vulnerable segments of the population in Tanzania to cope with external as well as domestic shocks that lie outside their control?

    (b) What can we learn from the experiences of social protection policies and schemes so far initiated in Tanzania and in other countries? How can these schemes be implemented in Tanzania on wider scale?

    (c) There is also an urgent need to increase and train sector personnel; develop monitoring, referral and response systems; strengthen district and national capacity of data collection; and to promote shared awareness at community and statutory levels of children and women’s rights protection.

Sub-Theme 3: Population Dynamics and Urbanization

Both population and urbanization in Tanzania have been growing rapidly for the last 50 years. After the 1980s, population growth averaged nearly 3 percent per annum. Urban population increased from 5.7 percent in 1967 to 29.1 percent in 2012. Thus of the 31.6 million increase in the total population, 12.0 million were absorbed into urban areas. With urban areas becoming the source of livelihoods for a majority of the population around the country, a huge toll on resources utilisation is encountered. Planning of urban areas, and their impact on the environment has become an extremely important issue in Tanzania. Specific research focus around population dynamics and urbanization in the MTSP will include the following subjects:

    (a) The implication of the current fast growing urbanization;

    (b) Housing and Human Settlement in the midst of the growing rate of urbanization;

    (c) Policy interventions that would alleviate crime, congestion and contagious diseases due to expanding cities in Tanzania;

    (d) The likely positive opportunities for more sustainable development of the population growth trend (e.g. in falling in fertility levels and slower population growth in terms of reaping a demographic dividend);

    (e) The determinants of urban poverty, and what are the policies to deal with it;

    (f) The opportunities and therefore benefit of a growing urban population; and

    (g) Investigate possibilities of affirmative employment creation, including inter alia how to expand the experience of income redistributive social safety nets and mechanisms, such as conditional cash transfers.

Sub-Theme 4: Gender, Children, Elderly and Youth


Overtime, more women have become heads of families (in some cases at premature age) with increased financial responsibilities. Also important to mention is the fact that many Tanzanian women still suffer from discrimination and its effects compared to men. For example, while school completion rates have increased between 2009 and 2013 from 37 percent to 45 percent for males, it is from 33 percent to 39 percent only for females; salaries paid to women are on average 63 percent lower than those paid to men; when women own businesses, they make 2.4 times less profit than men; and women represent only 10 percent of the political elite from the district level and below.3

Furthermore, in 2010, 33 percent of Tanzanian women reported that they had been subjected to physical domestic violence (in the previous 12 months) compared to 25.1 percent in Kenya and 14.5 percent in Malawi. With regards to gender, the Foundation will mainly focus on issues around child marriage, fertility rates, Gender Based Violence, and equal opportunities in education, employment, and ownership of properties and assets.


With the country’s relative stability and improved macroeconomic performance, there have been some improvements in the lives of children. However, the country has not yet met the 2015 international development targets and Vision 2025 goals. Primary schooling is one of the major problems in Tanzania. In many cases the quality of schooling is poor. This situation makes it difficult to attain the national objectives of poverty elimination and human development.

Child labour in Tanzania is another challenge which affects children. The Government acknowledges the gravity of child labour in the country. The most serious areas include child mining labour, child fishing labour and domestic labour. These are said to be among the most common and traditional forms of child labour in Tanzania. Various factors contribute to child labor in Tanzania. They include poverty and food insecurity, limited inspection and enforcement of labor laws and standards, and barriers to education. Other factors include the increasing number of orphans and vulnerable children (OVC). About 2 million children in Tanzania are orphans and vulnerable children (OVC), and approximately 14.8 percent of children between the ages of 5 and 17 work in private households, including those working as domestic servants.

The Foundation will therefore focus on issues around child labour, violence against children, and on policy interventions to enable children to fulfil their productive potentials.


Tanzania official statistics indicate that roughly more than 5.7 per cent of Tanzania’s population is over the age of 60. Nearly 82 per cent of Tanzania’s over 50 population lives in rural areas where older persons are vulnerable to poverty, food insecurity, restricted access to social services, and limited options for livelihoods security. They are further subject to the double protection bind of both needing care and protection in their older years as well as needing to fulfil the parenting gap as providers of care for children, grandchildren, and ageing spouses in their care. It is therefore clear that this is a segment of the population needing support to ensure they are free from vulnerability. This situation warrants a number of questions. ESRF will therefore focus on issues related to different forms of protection of elderly people such as social safety nets, cash transfers, family incentives, free health care, social programmes etc.


Tanzania like many other developing countries is experiencing a youth population bulge. Investments in their education, health, and social well-being are critical for ensuring active youth participation in the labor market. About 850,000 youth graduates enter the job market annually and concurrently the dependency ratio is gradually declining. This is an opportunity for the country to benefit from this so called “demographic bonus”. However, for the demographic bonus to be realized it is important for the new entrants into the labor market to find employment.

Despite of government efforts in establishing labor institution and policy frameworks such as Public Service Recruitment Secretariat, National Youth Development Policy 2007, National Employment Program 2007, Employment Promotion Act 1999, Employment and Labor Laws 2004, National Employment Policy 2008, and National Youth Employment Creation Program 2014/15-2016/17, youth employment and decent job creation, the promotion of youth employment has not met the expectations of Tanzanians. The focus of ESRF will therefore be on issues related to the strategic interventions to generate decent jobs for youth.

As proposed earlier, this Research Sub-Theme will cover research issues around Gender, Children, Elderly and the Youth.

ESRFs activities are supported by the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) and International Development Research Centre (IDRC)