Research Report
i 17/2
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Design: Formatted by GJM

Key Words: child, rights, protection, welfare, vulnerability, society, sustainability, framework:
policy, institutions, legal, structural, constitution

Research Report 17/2, Dar es Salaam, REPOA

@REPOA, 2017

All rights reserved. No Part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or
by any means without the written permission of the copyright holder or the publisher.


The study diagnosis the institutional framework respective to issues of child protection
and child social protection in Tanzania. Its objective is to identify and assess institutional
arrangements for the realization of universal child rights and institutional lethargies
limiting optimum realisation of comprehensive universal child rights in the country. It is
guided by Institutional Theory and employs focus group discussions (FGDs) and in-
depth interviews to collect primary data from the districts of Mara and Mtwara regions.
Twelve FGDs were conducted with Most Vulnerable Children Committees and a total of
120 participants were involved. A total of 51 interviews were conducted with various
duty bearers and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) working with vulnerable
children and operating in the localities of the study. The study also extensively utilized
secondary sources all of which are acknowledged throughout the report. Findings show
that children’s right to life is a basic right constitutionally protected and legislatively
provided for in Tanzania. Further, citizenship is legislatively recognized as the
foundation of child’s right in the country. Findings also shows that universal child rights
have been extensively recognized and are elaborately localized legislatively and by
various social policies. Nevertheless, the study found numerous institutional and
operational gaps which when left unchecked expose many children to vulnerabilities and
may lead to the denial of their basic rights. The study recommends the harmonization of
the activities of institutions overseeing child rights and the essential need to address
issues limiting the actualization of universal attainment of child rights in the country.


This report has benefitted directly and indirectly from readily support extended by many
people in their various capacities. I sincerely appreciate each individual and every
assistance I received throughout the time I was working on this study. In particular, I
express my sincere gratitude to REPOA for the financial support and expert
backstopping provided both of which enabled me to successfully undertake and
complete this study. I am very grateful to the REPOA secretariat whose many
individuals have extended excellent coordination, and administrative and logistical
support which were very essential to the successful completion and publication of this
report. Furthermore, I wish to thank all the individuals, officials and respondents from the
regions, localities, and institutions from where data for this study were collected. You all
deserve a special recognition because your unhesitant cooperation, participation, and
contribution of ideas, insights and materials were very pertinent to the success of this


ABSTRACT .................................................................................................................................. iii
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS .......................................................................................................... iv
TABLE OF CONTENTS .............................................................................................................. v
LIST OF TABLES .......................................................................................................................... i
LIST OF STATUTES ................................................................................................................... ii
ABBREVIATIONS AND ACRONYMS...................................................................................... iii
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS ......................................................................................................... v
BOX ............................................................................................................................................... v
GRAPHS........................................................................................................................................ v
IMAGES ......................................................................................................................................... v

1.0 INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND ......................................................................... 1
1.1 Background: Child Vulnerability in Tanzania ........................................................... 1
1.2 Child Protection and Child Social Protection: An Overview ................................... 8
1.3 Child Protection and Child Social Protection in Tanzania: The Current
Policy Trend ...............................................................................................................14

2.0 THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK: INSTITUTIONAL THEORY .................................. 15

3.0 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY ...................................................................................... 21
3.1 Research Objectives: ................................................................................................21
3.2 Research Questions ..................................................................................................21

3.3 Data Collection Techniques......................................................................................22
3.3.1 Focus Group Discussions ...................................................................................................... 22
3.3.2 Interviews ............................................................................................................................. 23
3.3.3 Secondary Sources ................................................................................................................ 24

3.4 Data Analysis .............................................................................................................25
3.5 Significance of the Study ..........................................................................................25
3.6 Ethical Considerations..............................................................................................26

4.0 STUDY FINDINGS AND ANALYSIS ............................................................................ 27
4.1 Right to Life: The Sacred Child’s Right ...................................................................27
4.2 Citizenship: The Foundation of Child Rights in Tanzania ......................................29
4.3 The Taxonomy of Child Vulnerability .......................................................................37

4.4 Child Welfare in Tanzania: The Institutional Context .............................................40
4.4.1 Institutional Setup for Child Welfare in Tanzania .............................................................. 41 Social Policies ..................................................................................................................... 41 Social Security Schemes and Systems................................................................................ 63 Social Work Practice .......................................................................................................... 66

4.5 Child Welfare in Tanzania: Institutional Issues and Practice .................................73
4.5.1 Supra-Governmental Agencies ......................................................................................... 74
4.5.2 Governmental Agencies and Departments ....................................................................... 75 The Police Department – Ministry of Home Affairs .......................................................... 75 The Social Welfare Department – Ministry of Health and Social Welfare ........................ 99
4.5.3 Voluntary Agencies ......................................................................................................... 106 Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) ..................................................................... 106 Most Vulnerable Children Committees (MVCCS) ........................................................... 111
4.5.4 Organized Profession ....................................................................................................... 119

5.0 CONCLUSIONS AND POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS ......................................... 123
5.1 Conclusions.............................................................................................................123
5.2 Policy Recommendations .......................................................................................125


REFERENCES ................................................................................................................131


Table I: Respondents’ Institutional Categorization.............................................................................. 23
Table II: Primary Schools Student Dropout by Reason and Percentage Distribution 2012 ......... 45
Table III: Crimes Against Children: Rape ............................................................................................. 77
Table IV: Crimes Against Children: Sodomy........................................................................................ 78
Table V: Crimes Against Children: Causing Bodily Harm .................................................................. 79
Table VI: Number of Social Welfare Staff by Administrative Level 2005....................................... 100


Citizenship Act No. 15 of 1961, CAP. 512
Citizenship Ordinance Act. No. 56 of 1961 Cap. 452
Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania, 1977
Law of Marriage Act, No. 5 of 1971
National Education Act, 1978
Penal Code (Chapter 16)
Sexual Offences (Special Provisions) Act No. 4 of 1998
Tanzania Citizenship Act No. 5 of 1995.
The Law of the Child Act No. 21-2009
The Employment and Labour Relations Act, Cap 366, Act. No. of 2006
Social Security Laws (Amendments) Act No. 5 of 2012
National Health Insurance Fund Act No 8 of 1999
Community Health Fund Act No 1 of 2001
The Births and Deaths Registration Act, Cap 108



ACRWC - African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child
CHF - Community Health Fund
CIDA - Canadian International Development Agency
CS - Child Protection
CSP - Child Social Protection
CSW - Commissioner for Social Welfare
DSWO - District Social Welfare Officer
EES - Employment and Earnings Survey
ESDP - Education Sector Development Programme
GEPF - Government Employees’ Provident Fund
ILFS - Integrated Labor Force Survey
ILO - International Labor Organization
LAPF - Local Authorities’ Pensions Fund (LAPF)
MCDGC - Ministry of Community Development, Gender and Children
MoEVT - Ministry of Education and Vocational Training
MoHA - Ministry of Home Affairs
MoHSW - Ministry of Health and Social Welfare
MoPEE - Ministry of Planning, Economy and Empowerment
NBS - National Bureau of Statistics
NHIF - National Health Insurance Fund
NHP - National Health Policy
NSSF - National Social Security Fund
NSSP - National Social Security Policy
PEDP - Primary Education Development Progamme
PMO-RALG - Prime Minister’s Office-Regional Administration and Local Government
POPC - President’s Office, Planning Commission
PPF - Parastatal Pensions Fund
PSPF - Public Service Pensions Fund
PSRB - Political Service Retirement Benefits Scheme
RITA - Registration, Insolvency and Trusteeship Agency
RGZ - Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar
SWD - Social Welfare Division
RSWO - Regional Social Welfare Officer
SWOs - Social Welfare Offices/Social Workers

TPF - Tanzania Police Force
UDHR - Universal Declaration of Human Rights
UNCRC - United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child
UNICEF - United Nations Children's Fund
ZSSF - Zanzibar Social Security Fund
NIA - National Identification Authority
CRVS - Civil Registration and Vital Statistics
NNS - National Nutrition Strategy
TFNC - Tanzania Food and Nutrition Centre
WHO - World Health Organization
WHC - Ward Health Committee
FGC - Female Genital Cutting
FGM - Female Genital Mutilation
AIHA - American International Health Alliance


Illustration I: An Institutional Paradigm for Child Welfare in Tanzania ............................................ 20
Illustration II: The Taxonomy of Child Vulnerability ............................................................................. 38
Illustration III: Institutional Setup for Child Welfare in Tanzania ....................................................... 42
Illustration IV: The Organizational Structure of the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare ........... 68
Illustration V: Tanzania Public Social Work Services Delivery Structure ........................................ 73


Box 1: Challenges constraining the extension of formal social security to the informal
sector in Tanzania ........................................................................................................... 7


Graph 1: Tanzania Population Pyramid ................................................................................................ 56
Graph 2: Basic Needs Poverty Incidence Curves ............................................................................. 62
Graph 3: The trend in total membership of social security in Tanzania mainland ......................... 65


Image 1: Example of a headline that highlights crimes committed against children ....................... 9
Image 2: Example of a headline for crime deterrence........................................................................ 10
Image 3: Example of headlines showcasing retribution ..................................................................... 12


1.1 Background: Child Vulnerability in Tanzania

In the African traditional setting, children have a unique value, such as securing
conjugal ties, providing inter-generation social security, providing labour, conferring
social status, securing inheritance and property rights, providing continuity,
maintaining family lineage, and satisfying emotional needs (Mace & Sear, 1997).
Parenthood has very deeper roots in these settings than in industrialized countries
(Dyer, 2007). However, universally, traditional notions of ideal childhood and family
are undergoing unprecedented change (Higonnet, 1998) and there is a troubling
transition in the social construction of childhood (De Rijke, 1999). In particular,
negative children’s experiences in various forms have become profuse and have
caused widespread child vulnerability. Leach (2007) for instance, provides an
extensive depiction of the aspects and dimensions of child vulnerability in Tanzania.
This alarming increase in the number of vulnerable children manifests a profound rise
of challenges facing children, particularly in Africa (Lachman et al., 2002).

A labyrinth of local and global circumstances impact on patterns of human
development in Africa (Nsamenang, 2005), exacerbating negative experiences for
children in the continent. Among the leading causes of child vulnerability is shortened
lifespan1 and high adult morbidity and mortality (Holmes et al., 2003) which results in
the reduction of capable adult members of the society (Foster, 2000) and increase the
number of orphans in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) (Bicego et al., 2003) and Tanzania in
particular (Urassa et al., 1997). HIV/AIDS and Malaria continue to be the leading
causes of adult morbidity and mortality in Tanzania (Narh-Bana et al. 2012).
HIV/AIDS, for example, has taken a toll on the labour force, orphaning many children
in the process (Bicego et al., 2003; Evans, 2002; Lugalla & Kibassa, 2002). Previous
studies had shown that in Tanzania, mortality rates among HIV-infected adults were
The life expectancy in Tanzania averages 60.9 years for the male population and 62.6 years for the female
population (Salomon et al. 2013:2152)

found to be fifteen (15) times higher than those among HIV-negative adults and
HIV/AIDS associated with nearly half of deaths at ages 15-44 years (Urassa et al.
2001:2017). Considering the age-group most severely attacked by HIV/AIDS is at its
productivity prime and factoring in time and resources invested in health care means
that especially to the cash economy societies, the scourge poses a serious threat to
the economy of the affected households, leading to impoverishment (Sharma et al.,
2015). HIV/AIDS has brought many households and communities to their knees,
leaving behind orphans, elderly caregivers, widows and other haggard survivors in a
state deprivation and, of social, psychological, structural and economic destitution, an
environment ill-equipped for proper care of children (Evans, 2014, Evans & Day,

Again, engraved structural poverty is also linked to a variety of confounding factors
which expose children to vulnerability risks (Kessy et al., 2003). There is an almost
universal consensus that households with higher social economic status have access
to more resources needed to support the positive development of children than
households with lower social economic status, and that poverty is a direct cause of
failure of most families and households to meet sustainably their children’s basic needs
(Bornstein & Bradley, 2014). Poverty also creates a situation whereby many parents
are less involved in their children’s lives and activities, and children in poverty-stricken
households’ experience less social support and are likely to be exposed to more
environmental deterioration risks and challenges of social deviance (Aber et al., 1997).
Poverty is also closely associated with increased neonatal and post-neonatal mortality
rates; greater risk of injuries resulting from accidents or physical abuse/neglect, and it
is closely linked with higher risk for asthma among children, and with lower
developmental scores in a range of tests at multiple ages (ibid). Furthermore, children
brought up in conditions of destitution are likely to be “exposed to more family turmoil,
violence, separation from their families, instability, and chaotic households” (Evans,

Further, it has also been observed that social-cultural and economic transformations on
the continent introduce new needs, new values and new challenges which negatively
affect particularly the traditional African family setting (Yankuzo, 2014). In particular,
the collapse of subsistence production and reproduction; increasing overall life reliance
on cash in a situation of intensifying destitution, coupled with rapid change in the
values system oriented towards deepening individualisation are eroding traditional
social security and hastening the breaking down of the traditional extended family
structure (Lachman, 1996). There is profuse evidence that overreliance on cash for
attainment of subsistence needs and access to basic social services; inflation; the
collapse of subsistence economy and marketization leads to greater individualization of
social life (Cleaver, 2005), thereby demolishing the traditional social security system. It
is in this situation where concepts such as ‘social orphan’ which did not exist in most
traditional African societies come to the fore (Foster, 2000). When the traditional family
structure, composition and capacity are undermined, and its value system altered, its
influence as a social support system is also compromised. This is of particular
significance because in Africa there is no comprehensive formal social welfare
institutions coverage, which would have provided social support in the place of the
withering potential and capacity of the extended family. Traditional social security
provided a platform for members to offer and receive assistance, encouragement and
advice and in its best, the “extended family, thus, among other things, plays the role
that social welfare institutions play in the West” (Njoh, 2006:51). Palacious & Pallares-
Mirallets (2000) had highlighted that the coverage rates of social security systems is
usually less than ten per cent (10%) in low income countries, hence over ninety per
cent (90%) of their population rely exclusively on traditional social security systems.
Zeroing on basic social services for instance, estimates shows that for lack of social
security coverage, nearly eighty per cent (80 %) of the population in sub Saharan
Africa is excluded from access to adequate health care (Bailey, 2004:2). The
simultaneous outcome of these effects is the weakening of the traditional social
support networks responsible for mitigating harsh childhood experiences and
actualisation of ideal childhood (Hunter, 1990; Roscoe, 1911) and compromising of the
conditions and circumstances of child nurturing and growth in our societies which

exacerbate their negatives experiences. The implications of fragile or vague traditional
and/or formal social security coverage to children is therefore quite straightforward; as
McLoyd (1990) demonstrates, a vulnerable family designates vulnerable children. In
the absence of social welfare programs specifically designed to support families with
children in case of social risks, such as extended loss of employment, disability leading
to inability to work, extended illness or death of a family breadwinner results in family
destitution and its impact is most acutely felt by children. Social security, either
traditional or modern, is ideally meant to mitigate the impact of such risks to members
and their households, and thereby protect children from their harsh consequences.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), enshrined social protection as a
human right issue in its Article 22, as effectuated through the ILO Social Security No.
102 Declaration of 1952. Tanzania ratified these declarations in 1965 and in resonance
Article 11(1) of the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania (1977) provides
that, “The state authority shall make appropriate provisions for the realization of a
person’s right to work, to self-education and social welfare at times of old age, sickness
or disability and in other cases of incapacity….” which makes social security a
constitutional right in Tanzania (Mchomvu et al. 2002:17). Further, Social Security
Laws (Amendments) Act No. 5 of 2012, sec. 30 indiscriminately allows any person with
income to join any social security fund of his/her choice. Unfortunately, despite these
provisions, many people are still excluded because coverage is enshrined in formal
social security schemes, which are essentially member-contribution based in the
framework of formal employment2. Estimates show that between 650,000 and 750,000
persons have been entering the labor force every year in Tanzania (MoPEE, 2006:12).
The 2012 EES Survey shows that in Tanzania 1,550,018 persons were employed in
the formal sector in 2012 (NBS. 2013: ix) and 2,368,672 people (10.7% of the labor

According to Article 4 and Schedule I of the 1977 Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania, labor and
social security matters are non-union matters, hence separate social security regimes between Tanzania
Mainland and the Isles. Tanzania mainland currently has six major statute-based social security institutions
namely the National Social Security Fund (NSSF), the Parastatal Pensions Fund (PPF), the Public Service Pensions
Fund (PSPF), the Political Service Retirement Benefits Scheme (PSRB), the Government Employees’ Provident
Fund (GEPF), and the Local Authorities’ Pensions Fund (LAPF) and Zanzibar has the Zanzibar Social Security Fund

force population) are unemployed (NBS, 2014). The 2006 ILFS showed that the entire
labor force population was 18,821,525 (NBS, 2006) with 2011 projections estimating it
to be at 22,152,320. The National Social Security Policy of Tanzania (2003), estimates
that the existing mandatory social security schemes cover only 5.4% of the country’s
labor force. However, using the 2012 EES data and 2011 estimates, one tentatively
sees that about 7% of the total labor force is employed in the formal sector; about
10.7% unemployed and about 82.3% of the labor force is employment outside the
formal sector. By inference, this means that about 93% of the labor force and their
dependents, especially children in Tanzania are excluded from mandatory coverage in
formal social security schemes.

Some schemes have started to craft institutional mechanisms to reach the labour
force in the informal sector. The case in point is National Social Security Fund which is
mandated to cover among other categories, the self-employed, or any other employed
person not covered by any other social security scheme, which would include employs
in the informal sector. However as per section 8 (1) of the National Social Security
Fund Act No. 28 of 1997, temporary employees are excluded, although the same
section, empowers the responsible Minister to declare temporary employees generally
or temporary employees of a category to which the employee belongs to be
registrable. On the part of Zanzibar, the Zanzibar Social Security Fund Act No. 2 of
2005, section 2, provides for coverage to employees in both the public and private
sectors and also self-employed persons. Despite these avenues to include the
informal sector in social security hedge, the results are still unimpressive. Dau (2003)
identified several challenges constraining the extension of social security coverage to
the informal sector in Tanzania (see box 1, below), however, in my opinion the gist of
the problem is the fact social security registration is not mandatory across the entire
productive labor force. While in the formal sector employees’ registration in a social
security schemes are mandatory, for individuals outside formal employment i.e. the
self-employed, those employed in the informal sector, peasants etc. it is voluntary.
Again, conventional social security systems are based on consistency pull of
resources by its members. In this regard, contributors i.e. employees and employers,

makes compulsory monthly contributions for beneficiaries’ membership in the social
security programmes. Work in the informal sector however is characterized by
irregularity and absence of secure contracts (Daniel et al. (2010: 18), which present
major obstacles for embracement of the sector in the formal social security schemes.
Dau (2003) (cited extensively below), stipulates major obstacles for universal social
security coverage in Tanzania. Although the National Social Security Policy (NSSP)
recognizes this ominous coverage gap, it still does not make any policy statement to
the effect that social security coverage should be mandatory across all sectors3. This
would have provided the requisite impetus for fast-tracking legal reforms and
institutional redesigning necessary to implement the policy position, and became the
catalyst to inspire the necessary creativeness required to overcome coverage
extension obstacles.

See for instance policy statements ‘a-d’ in the Section 3.2 of the NSSP

Box 1: Challenges constraining the extension of formal social security to the
informal sector in Tanzania

Box 1: Challenges constraining the extension of formal social security to the informal sector in Tanzania.

• High administration costs: Currently, the NSSF in Tanzania spends about 15 per cent of total collections on
administration costs. Extending coverage to the informal sector in the urban and rural areas will result in
higher administration costs due to the additional costs arising from enforcing compliance.

• Permanency and consistency: Some informal sector workers have no permanent place of business, hence
making it difficult to enforce compliance. Yet others are engaged in activities, which are seasonal in nature
resulting in an irregular flow of income. Social security institutions need to devise a system, which will address
these issues.

• Irrelevance of the retirement age: Workers in the informal sector do not have a standard retirement age. They
will continue working as long as they are healthy and the activities are still profitable. They may retire at an
early or late age depending on their health and business environment, and not on the pensionable age as
defined by the law.

• Enforcement of compliance: Under the classical social security administration, employers are penalized for late
submission of contributions and legal action is taken against defaulters. It is difficult to apply these principles
to voluntary members, hence making coverage of the sector rather difficult.

• Low contribution capability: Levels of income for most of the informal sector employees are quite low. Their
income is just enough to provide for subsistence, making it difficult to meet their immediate needs as well as
paying contributions to social insurance schemes for their future protection.

• Lack of incentives to register: The research conducted by the NSSF revealed that the immediate needs of
workers in the informal sector are loan facilities and sponsorship for training. However, such provisions are
not part of the conventional social protection schemes.

Source: Dau, 2003:5
Based on the foregoing assurance of child welfare in Tanzania is between a rock and a
hard place. On one hand, limited coverage of formal social security system exposes
majority of Tanzanians, and in particular, children to vulnerability in case of social risks;
and on the other hand, traditional social security anchored in the extended family, has
become weakened and incapable of providing comprehensive social support to its
members. The intention of this paper is not to highlight the extent of child abuse in
Tanzania. That has been done diligently elsewhere and established that there is
copious sexual, physical and emotional violence against children in the country

(UNICEF et al., 2011). Rather, this work intends to diagnose specific public measures
Tanzania has taken to mitigate child vulnerability, examine the institutional challenges
pertaining to child protection and child social protection and to recommend strategic
measures for enhancement of effective institutional capacity to effectively mitigate
intensifying child vulnerability in the country.

1.2 Child Protection and Child Social Protection: An Overview
The children’s rights movement is pushing for universal provision and protection of
children’s rights, with the intent to ensure that in every nation, community and family,
ideal childhood for young people is the norm (Bissell, 1999). Since ideal childhood is
subjective, and its connotations informed by a respective community’s culture, norms,
values, morals and its economy, the children’s rights movements employ the concept
of ‘natural rights’ to set universal standards for ideal childhood. This implies that
universally, each child, irrespective of the parents’ situation and status, family
background or the community s/he belongs to, is born with certain inalienable rights.
These rights are or should be legally provided for in each nation’s legal frameworks
and be enshrined as protected entitlements in supra-national institutional frameworks.
Universally, children’s natural rights are identified and provided under two broad
thematic categories namely, child social protection and child protection.

‘Child social protection’ derives from the concept of social protection which is
understood as “the set of policies, programmes and institutions government and
private sector agents establish to promote efficient and effective labour markets,
protect individuals from risks inherent in earning a living and provide a safety net that
underpins communities when market or planning failure undermines the capacity of
people to provide adequately for their needs” (Samaratunge & Nyland, 2007:346). In
its technical sense, ‘social protection’ implies “the set of public measures that a society
provides for its members to protect them against economic and social distress that
would be caused by the absence or substantial reduction of income from work as a
result of various contingencies (sickness, maternity, employment injury,

unemployment, invalidity, old age, and death of the breadwinner); the provision of
health care; and, the provision of benefits for families with children” (Garcia & Gruat,
2003: 13-14). Child social protection is provided through a variety of social policies
and pension systems, with social work practice playing a crucial advocacy,
coordination and enforcement role.

The concept of ‘child protection,’ on the other hand, is understood as protecting
children from emotional, physical and sexual abuse as well as from neglect. It entails
“preventing and responding to violence, exploitation and abuse against
children-including commercial sexual exploitation, trafficking, child labour and harmful
practices such as female genital mutilation/cutting and child marriage” (UNICEF,
2006:1). Respective to child protection, Article 19 of the Convention on the Rights of
the Child charges all member States who have ratified the convention to “take all
appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the
child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent
treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of
parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child.” Article
32 recognizes children’s right to be protected from economic exploitation and
hazardous work, while Article 34 targets sexual exploitation and Article 35addresses
child trafficking.

Image 1: Example of a headline that highlights crimes committed against children

Image 1: Example of a headline that raises
awareness about crimes committed against

accessed 13th March 2015

Child Protection is granted by synchronised local, national and supra-national laws,
international treaties, conventions and other forms of binding and enforceable
international agreements. They are enforced by local, national and international law
enforcement framework, institutions and instruments. At all levels, social work practice
has a crucial advocacy, coordination and enforcement role. A synthesised bird’s view
over child social welfare practice shows that child protection interventions manifest
themselves in four closely-related dimensions. The first dimension is to raise
awareness about crimes committed against children and undertake preventive or
deterrent measures. The second dimension is retribution the third dimension is
rehabilitative, and the fourth dimension is restoration. The preventive or deterrent
dimension involves strategic advocacy for relevant stakeholders to adequately and
comprehensively address child abuse and other child protection issues. It entails
instituting legal, administrative and programmatic mechanisms to provide for and
enforce child protection and also involve awareness rising on prevailing child abuse
issues and associated effects to children and the community. This dimension also
channels messages and information on ideal childhood and positive child rearing
environment, as well as the positive outcomes of ideal childhood for the child, family,
the community and society at large. It also raises awareness and communicates
messages regarding punishment associated with child abuse.

Image 2: Example of a headline for crime deterrence

Image 2: Example of a headline for crime deterrence

albino-murder-serve-example-1490828 accessed 13th March 2015

For example, Ferguson (2011:19) highlights the practice where judicial sentences
meted out to child cruelty offenders were given high profile coverage in the media to
induce fear and deter others from such criminal behaviors. That knowledge is induced
in people with the intention of influencing positive treatment of children, and prevention
of child abuse or preventing children from being subjected to treatments or
experiences that amount to criminal treatments or experiences.

Retribution aims for offenders to suffer for their crimes, and also intend to have them
reflect on, amend and repent their wrongs (Ferguson, ibid.) It thus encompasses child
protection intervention measures that involve making culprits of child abuse liable or
legally responsible for their actions. These are interventions that respond to already
experienced problems that have a child protection bearing and are often necessarily
coercive as they are explicitly judicial sanctions and measures (Parkinson, 2003).
Depending on the nature of the abuse and the state of mind and circumstances
surrounding or influencing the culprit, particularly regarding whether and to what
extent the culprit is also a victim in some way, retribution may range from being purely
punishment to attempts to help the culprit be transformed into a better person i.e.
attempts at restoration. Retributive measures also serve as deterrent, as the
enforcement of punishment is expected to deter others from committing crimes.

As far as the rehabilitative dimension is concerned, it has been notably flagged that
while social work occupies many roles in rehabilitation, the role of social workers and
social work education in the field of rehabilitation has lacked a concrete definition
(Douglas, 1982). It should however be stressed that rehabilitation addresses the entire
person, with their physical, psychological and social and environmental needs for what
is called "total" or "integral rehabilitation" through multidisciplinarity (Blouin &
Echeverri, 2010). Respective to child protection, it can be construed as involving
attempts to help a child, who has been abused, traumatised or have experienced any
other child protection issue, to recuperate and recapture as much as possible the
innocence of childhood.

Image 3: Example of headlines showcasing retribution

Images 3: Example of headlines showcasing retribution

death-sentences/1840392-2644096-8sve3b/index.html accessed 13th March

It is noted that abuse has different effects on children depending on their prior
adjustment and how others respond to it (Finkelhor & Browne, 1985). Comprehensive
rehabilitation measures i.e. ‘total’ or ‘integral rehabilitation’ is customised to responds
to specific experiences and circumstances of a particular child and encompass
provision of decent social services, care and psychosocial support. These measures
attempt to help the child grow as normally as possible in the post-abuse experience,
and attempts to address, the living environment of a child and social-psychological
circumstances and effects of the abuse experience.

The restorative dimension, focus on ‘restoring; damaged relationship between the
victim, offender and the society (Wernham, 2005). It primary concern is in healing,
repairing damage and reconciling parties involved to restore community harmony and
reassure involved parties. The core of restorative justice is “active participation of the
offender, victim and community in listening to the facts and feelings of those involved”

(ibid: 102), identifying and implementing solutions which balance the interests of all
sides involved, ensuring the offender takes responsibility for the crime and makes
amend to the victim and community, and allows for repentance, forgiveness and
reintegration (ibid.). Where possible, restoration is an ideal outcome because it
promises a health relationship between the offender and the victim and signifies
closure of an unpleasant phase. It offers the opportunity for the offender to take
responsibility for the offences committed, it avails opportunity for the offender to
demonstrate remorse and repentance for the offences committed, it gives the victim
the opportunity to comprehend the offenders behaviour and determine their personal
position with the offender, for instance whether they can forgive the offender, feel safe
with the offender in future, or whether they will rather never be reunited with the
offender in future. However, depending on the nature of the offence and other
considerations it is not always possible or recommended that restoration takes place.
For example, Mallik-Kane & Vishner (2008:7) highlights the challenges returning
prisoners face in the process of re-establishing themselves and reconnecting with
children and family. From a child welfare restorative dimension, consideration is given
to both, the offender and the child in question, with the view however, of ensuring that
child welfare concerns take precedence above all other interests. In this regard
therefore, regardless of the relationship between the offender and the child,
restoration, only takes place where there is certainty that it does not and will not put
the child in harm’s way or have negative consequences on the child in any manner.

All in all, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and the
African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC) have stipulated the
universal rights of children which member countries are obliged to adopt and
mainstream in their respective countries. These two instruments provide the following
universal rights for children: In CSP, all children have the right to access education
and guidance, immunisation, adequate diet, clothing and shelter, and appropriate
medical attention. As far as CP is concerned, all children have a right to protection
from discrimination, violence, abuse, neglect and social and customary practices that
may be harmful to a child.

1.3 Child Protection and Child Social Protection in Tanzania: The Current
Policy Trend

Child Protection and Child Social Protection are issues that the government of Tanzania been
grappling with and attempting to address over many years. Overtime, several key strategic
legislations have been enacted in acknowledgement of both the gravity and escalation of the
problems that cause child vulnerability and the expedience of taking decisive mitigation
measures to address these issues. In 1996, the government developed the Child
Development Policy to inform and guide CP & CSP in Tanzania. The government of Tanzania
has also consented to international standards and obligations by ratifying related international
measures such as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), which
it ratified in 1991, and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC),
which it signed on 23 October 1998 and ratified on 16 March 2003. Building on the ratification
of the UNCRC, Tanzania acceded to the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child
prostitution and child pornography in April 2003, and acceded to the Optional Protocol of the
Convention on the involvement of children in armed conflict without reservation in November
2004. By ratifying, the country consented, committed and is bound by international code of
conduct to guarantee, promote, facilitate, provide access to, and protect the stipulated
children’s rights.

In 2009, Tanzania enacted the Law of the Child Act, which provides for reform and
consolidation of laws relating to children, stipulates the rights of the child and promotes,
protects and maintains the welfare of a child with a view to enforcing the international and
regional conventions on the rights of the child. This is essential because international treaties
have to be specifically adopted and integrated into domestic legislation for them to be binding
in the respective country. It also provides for affiliation, foster care, adoption and custody of the
child while also regulating issues of employment and apprenticeship. Moreover, this law has
provisions pertaining to a child in conflict with law and provides for related matters. These
efforts are designed to provide intervention options and guide respective practices and
initiatives to ensure children access their natural rights in Tanzania. These measures
collectively create a policy and legal framework for child protection and child social protection
in the country.


In the context of children’s natural rights, child protection and child social protection
must take place within a clear institutional framework. Respectively, institutional theory
is utilised as a theoretical position that offers a feasible epistemological grounding and
clear paradigm to explore the various issues and institutional inter-linkages, strengths
and weaknesses pertaining to children’s rights in Tanzania. Broadly considered,
institutions entail “organization-based network of rules, laws, norms, administrative
systems and social functions” Johnston (1998:44) and they have an essential role to
play in governing “strategic interactions of agents in a self-enforcing manner” (Aoki,
2001:185). Institutions exist and function in a dynamic continuum of two complimentary
elements: the embodied aspect and the relational aspect (Garcelon, 2005). The
embodied aspect i.e. the Embodied Institutional Paradigm (EIP), refers to behavioural
patterns inherent or intrinsic to an individual acquired and nurtured through
institutionalisation and cognition; and the relational institutional aspect also known as
Obligatory Institutional Orders (OIO) refers to patterns of obligatory relationship
between individuals.

Scott (2008:464), elaborating on the description of institutions, points out that
institutions are variously composed of “cultural-cognitive, normative and regulative
elements that together with associated activities and resources, provide stability and
meaning to social life.” The cultural-cognitive element refers to the “shared conceptions
that constitute the nature of social reality and the frames through which meaning is
made” (Scott, 2008:57), whereas the normative element entails “normative rules that
introduce a prescriptive, evaluative, and obligatory dimension into social life” (ibid.);
and the regulative process involves the “capacity to establish rules, inspect others’
conforming to them, and, as necessary, manipulate sanctions-rewards or punishments-
in an attempt to influence future behaviour” (Scott, 2008:52).

The application of Institutional theory, as a theoretical framework that guides this
particular study, becomes explicitly when we consider that institutional elements (i.e.
cultural-cognitive, normative and regulative elements) are abstract theoretical
constructs that find their manifestations in concrete human practices, in this particular
case, the framework for social work practice. Social work practice recognises four core
institutions anchors that oversee children’s right. These include first, government
agencies and their departments and subdivisions; second, voluntary incorporated
agencies; third the organised profession, and fourth, supra-government agencies.
Institutional Theory is called to guide the analysis of the operational effectiveness of
the institutional arrangements endowed with the responsibility to manage the welfare of
children in the country. It guides the examining of the reality on the ground seeking
connection and explanations of children’s plight, in particular how it is mitigated or
exacerbated by the functioning or performance of the respective institutional

Effective or weak child social protection and child protection are outcomes of an
institutional environment, as it creates conditions that determines children experiences
and institute accountability mechanisms regarding child welfare in a respective
community. In this regard, the institutional environment puts in place both, preventive
measures to evade negative children experiences and intercession options to protect
children from further negative experiences. Further, the institutional environment
support children to mitigate effects of any child’s rights abuse they may have suffered
as well as bringing to justice the culprits and/or perpetrators of such abuses.
Respectively therefore, institutional elements (i.e. cultural-cognitive, normative and
regulative elements) become significance theoretical concepts in the evaluation and
analysis of the institutions, the context and the manner in which they emerge, exist and
function, and the related implications on ideal childhood.

The institutional anchors, namely, government agencies and their departments and
subdivisions, voluntary incorporated agencies, the organised profession and supra-
government agencies are the immediate objects of such an analysis, because they are
empirical entities tasked with overseeing children’s rights. They provide the material
environment and context for children’s rights beyond the family; and form the
institutional framework within which child protection and child social protection are
sought, provided for, and potentially realised. Institutions for child protection and child
social protection sometimes function parallel and at other times complimentary to each
other, and do not necessarily operate in co-ordination with each other in a consistently
orderly manner. Depending on particular localities, stakeholders’ priorities and
prevailing social, cultural and economic conditions these institutions act in a balanced
manner or some institutions end up more dominant than others.

Based on the foregoing, it naturally follows that effective institutional arrangements
provides a positive environment for children and ensure optimum enjoyment of their
basic rights. On the other hand, weak/ineffective institutional arrangements leave the
fate of the children to the family and the local situation. If the environment within which
they grow up denies children their basic rights, in any way, then there is a vacuum in
intervention and the basic children’s rights are enjoyed intermittently or can be ignored

However, as conspicuously clear as the profound significance of institutions is in social
work practice, there has hardly been any application of institutional theory in the study
and practice of social work. Child welfare is universally an ever-present concern,
therefore the problematic presented in the introduction of this work, i.e. the child
welfare institutional gap resultant of limited coverage of formal social security systems
and the weakening traditional social security institutions bemoans for an institutional
response. The situation calls for an understanding of whether, which and how new
institutions have emerged, should emerge and/or the nature of institutional

transformation unfolding to manage child welfare issues in the country. From a child
welfare point of view, the persistent wearying of traditional institutions flags out issues
such as changing family structures, altering value systems, and their gradual
replacement by contemporary value systems. Which values are transmitted or emerge,
what new family structures and relationships they impart and in that context what
challenges and opportunities for child welfare emerge, are questions that institutional
theory is well positioned to address via its cultural/cognitive, normative and regulative
elements. When we reflect a little bit on traditional social security institutions, we can
see that they were relied on, effective and generally accepted by its members. In other
words, they were “a structure that has become institutionalized” because overtime they
had come to be “taken for granted by members of a social group as efficacious and
necessary; (serving) as an important causal source of stable patterns of behaviour”
(Tolbert & Zucker, 1996:179). When they are in the brink of collapse, institutional
theory acknowledges that “although institutions serve both to powerfully drive change
and to shape the nature of change across levels and contexts, they also themselves
change in character and potency over time” (Dacin et al, 2002: 45), which makes the
institutional change one of the key subject matters of institutional theory.

Again, social work theory and practice evolve as an outcome of epistemological
development and in the course of responding to new challenges paused by societal
dynamics and transformations. Further, social work as human service is complex
reflecting the complexity of its subject, humans. For example, “the ways in which
human services workers respond may evoke different degrees of sensitivity and
understanding of the personal circumstances and needs of the service seekers. Not
surprisingly the experiences people have in such encounters will be quite varied
ranging from highly positive to profoundly negative” (Hasenfeld, 2009:9). In this regard,
social work ethics, values and the practice’s standard operating procedures become
refined to accommodate these developments and manage complexities inherent in the
field. How changes emerge and practices institutionalised are issues central to
institutional theory.

Considering this potential, it is quite puzzling why institutional theory has so far not
featured in any substantial manner in social work research, theory and practice. This
work therefore intends to demonstrate that institutional theory is very relevant for social
work. It is a tentative attempt to venture into hitherto, a less explored terrain of the
application of institutional theory in social work research. In this neophyte stage, I
propose a model which looks at a society as a template. In this template, there is
simultaneity of traditional, informal and formal institutions which are ‘important causal
source of stable patterns of behaviour’ and individual as well as social experiences.
Social problem intensification4 alongside excessive attrition of the capacity of informal
and traditional institutions to manage it, magnify the problem and results in a ‘state of
social and moral panic’ accompanied by fragmentary efforts by a variety of non-state
actors attempting to mitigate the increasingly manifesting crisis, in this case child
vulnerability. For example, in Tanzania we witnessed an era when child vulnerability
was ‘a new lustre’ allotted immense donor funding and a host of local and international
Organizations, NGOs and CBOs, established for and/or implementing child
vulnerability programs. After a while, its peak time wane and the ‘passion’ subside as
new issues take a centre stage, and the earlier problem is relegated to casual
attention. Formal public institutions remain the only reliable institution to incorporate the
problem and address it sustainably in its routine activities. Respectively, overtime there
should be increasing transfer of responsibility from informal and traditional institutions
to formal institutions and growing comprehensive and concrete public institutions
management, monitoring and coordination of child welfare issues.

In this case, the child welfare institutional gap resultant of limited coverage of formal social security systems and
weakening informal and traditional social security institutions. The triggers of the social problem, for instance
child vulnerability, might be the withering of institutions (traditional and informal) which hither to, has successful
ensured child welfare; or that, because of certain factors, for instance the effects of HIV/AIDS the problem has
multiplied beyond the capacity of these institutions, or the concurrence of both situations.

Illustration I: An Institutional Paradigm for Child Welfare in Tanzania

Source: Author

This framework offers a paradigm for both theory and practice regarding the
enforcement of children’s rights and posits that, ideally, children’s rights are neither
sought nor enforced in vacuum or at the whims of practitioners. It provides a framework
for children’s rights movement and essentially establishes a legitimate base for the
promotion, study, evaluation and assessment of children’s rights. It advances that a
theoretical understanding of institutional elements allows one to comprehend, capture
and analyse a dynamic continuum between institutional anchors within a
comprehensive model that depicts their linkages and their complimentary nature,
thereby unveiling the status quo and environment of children’s rights in any local


3.1 Research Objectives:

The main objective of the study was to examine the institutional strengths and
institutional challenges pertaining to child protection and child social protection in
Tanzania, using the case experiences of Mara and Mtwara regions. Specifically, the
study sought to:

a) Identify underlying causes for pertinent child protection and child social protection
issues in Tanzania.

b) Identify and appraise key institutional issues and gaps pertaining child welfare in

c) Provide recommendations for comprehensive enjoyment of child natural rights in

3.2 Research Questions

The following are the research questions that guided data collection in this study:

a) What is the root cause of, and which factors contribute significantly to exacerbate
the problem of child vulnerability in Tanzania?

b) To what extent is the existing institutional framework capable of delivering child
protection and child social protection in Tanzania?

c) What institutional gaps compromise the ability of the existing institutional
framework to effectively provide child protection and child social protection and
how can they be bridged?

3.3 Data Collection Techniques

The focus of the study was to analyse the institutional framework for child protection
and child social protection in Tanzania, guided by the institutional paradigm for
children right provided in the theoretical framework above. Respectively, primary data
was sought from primary institutional actors, where a total of one hundred and
seventy-one (171) respondents were involved in the study. The key institutional
actors, identified in the theoretical framework include: Government agencies and
departments are represented by the Department of Social Welfare in the Ministry of
Health and Social Welfare, Supra Government Agencies, Organized Profession and
Voluntary Incorporated Agencies. Respectively, the following data collections
techniques were employed.

3.3.1 Focus Group Discussions

A total of twelve (12) Focus Group Discussions were conducted with voluntary
agencies, the Most Vulnerable Children Committees (MVCCs). The rationale was to
get at least one MVCC in each of the district of the two regions. Since the MVCCs
operate at the grassroots, the selection was purposive to ensure representation from
both the rural and urban settings of the district. The MVCCs were picked with the
support of district social welfare officers in the respective districts. Each FGD had 10
participants and therefore a total of one hundred and twenty (120) respondents
participated in the FGDs.

Table I: Respondents’ Institutional Categorization

Institution Government Agencies Voluntary Agencies Total
al and Departments Units

and CDOs MVCCs NGOs -

Units 15 3 10 33 61

3.3.2 Interviews

A total of fifty-one (51) interviews were conducted for this study. The interviews were
conducted with Government Agencies and Departments particularly the Department of
Social Welfare in the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Community Development
Officers and voluntary agencies in particular Non-Governmental Organizations
(NGOs). Fifteen (15) interviews were conducted with Regional and Social Welfare
Officers (RSWOs & DSWOs) in Mtwara and Mara regions. They were purposively
selected based on their respective portfolios in the localities of the study. The number
of respondents, i.e. social welfare officers, tallies with the total number of all district
welfare officers, who were working in the districts social welfare offices and regional
social welfare offices of Mtwara and Mara regions at the time of the study. It should be
noted that it is standard for each district to have at least one District Social Welfare
Officer and the study endeavors to ensure that it covered all the social welfare officers
in the districts of the two regions of the study. Interviews were also conducted with
three (3) Community Development Officers. Study design did not plan for CDOs to be
respondents, however, during the interviews with District Social Welfare Officers, it
emerged as recurrent issue that there are conflicting and overlapping roles between
DSWOs and CDOs. Therefore, CDOs were purposeful selected from regional

administrative offices, particularly to gauge inherent issues in the working relationship
between the SWD and CDOs, and to get the latter’s perspective. The study also
conducted thirty-three (33) interviews with project officers working with the voluntary
incorporated agencies in particular, NGOs which had child support programs in the
localities of the study. The study endeavoured to involve all NGOs recognized as
supporting children in these localities by the respective social welfare offices and
respective District Councils, and whose officers were available during the time of the
study. Since there was no ‘organised profession’ of social workers, or children’ rights
movement in the respective localities of the study, none were involved in the study.
Some of the supra-government agencies were represented in part by the NGOs in the
localities of the study, but their positions are covered primarily by secondary sources.

3.3.3 Secondary Sources

The study benefitted from granted access to the Tanzania Police Force (TPF)
database which enabled extraction of records pertaining to reported crimes against
children specific to the localities of the study. Unfortunately attempts to get data from
respective police stations and courts to tabulate reported crimes against children and
case outcomes were not possible due to limited time and resources allocated for the
study. This exercise would have required the researcher to retrace and manually visit
each of the police stations where the crime was reported and if the case had reached
the court stage to also visit each of the respective courts and in each visit, manually
peruse respective case records. This exercise is certain to make an illuminating
independent research project. The study also involved a legal review and conferring to
various secondary data sources, all of which are acknowledged throughout this
research report.

3.4 Data Analysis

Data analysis was conducted using thematic content analysis, which is a systematic
process for categorising the content of the text and identifying relationships among the
categories (Berg, 1995). Most importantly, the analysis extended to adopting the fuzzy
set theory which broadens content analysis by permitting the use of fuzzy or blurred
categories during coding in addition to allowing these categories to overlap, thereby
permitting the investigation to include relationships among thematic categories (Scherl
& Smithson, 1987). This data analysis approach was preferred because of it endows
the researcher with flexibility to trace patterns and use only the most valuable data.

3.5 Significance of the Study

This study will make three major contributions to scholars and practicians, particularly
those in the field of social work. Firstly, there are many social work theories that guide
the social work profession, academically and in social work practice. Such theories are
for example, Systems Theory, Psychodynamic theory, Social Learning theory, Conflict
Theory, Psychosocial development theory, Transpersonal theory and Rational choice
theory. There are also human development theories such as Theories of moral
reasoning, Theories of cognition and Stage theories; as well as primary social work
perspectives such as the Strengths perspective, the Feminist perspective and the Eco-
Systems perspectives. Further, social work practice has established models such as
Problem solving, Task-centered practice, Narrative therapy, Cognitive behavioral
therapy and Crisis intervention models. It is my observation that these theories
primarily contribute to the methodology and functions of social work practice’s problem-
solving process (Levy, 1967; Perlman, 1957), with a focus on understanding,
explaining and resolving what is assumed to constitute the ‘problems’ of its clients
though social work methods, namely social group work, social casework and
community organization. This study instead refocuses attention to what constitute the
problems confounding social work practice itself, and the implications of those
problems to the delivery of social work services. It respectively introduces institutional

theory in social work research, and demonstrates its usefulness in the study of social
work administration and practice and in the analysis of the institutional paradigm of
social work operation.

Secondly; this study is a significant endeavor in promoting effective and efficient
systems in social work practice in Tanzania by pointing out the institutional porosities
affecting its capacity to ascertain general child welfare and become a reliable
catchment net for vulnerable children. Thirdly, this work reclaims social work’s rightful
place in administering social welfare to vulnerable groups and marginalized sections
of the society, and attempts to bring social work back in the center stage of overseeing
and coordinating particularly child welfare issues.

3.6 Ethical Considerations

The study attained a study permit from the University of Dar es Salaam’s Directorate of
Research. Further, participation in the study by all respondents was voluntary and did
not include participant remuneration. The researcher explained the nature and
purposed of the study to all participants and each participant was informed of their
rights to accept or refuse to participate in the study, and were subsequently asked to
verbally confirm consent to voluntary participation.


4.1 Right to Life: The Sacred Child’s Right

In the outset, it should be noted that the right to procreate is considered a basic human
right in Tanzania. Regardless of the conditions or circumstances of the prospective
parents, the society has no legal power to ostracize any of its adult or legally married
members from having children5 and there is no legal limitation as to the number of
children one may have. Further, both, the National Population Policy of 1992 and its
successor the National Population Policy of 2006, eschewed from confronting the issue
of rapid population growth and its implication particularly on child social protection and
thereby and offer policy directives respectively.

The right to procreate in Tanzania is provided for, in two primary legal authorities: First,
the Tanzania Marriage Act No. 5 of 1971, Cap 29, Section 9 (1) indiscriminately
provides the right of a man and woman to get married as long as they have attained a
legally acceptable age as stipulated in section 13(1) - (3)6 and start a family. With the
unrestricted right to get married; and without separation between getting married and
procreating, one is implicitly given the unsanctioned right to have children. However,
another issue worthy taking note of is that, since the Law of the Child, Act of 2009,

For example, it is not ethically or legally right to disallow people who have an ongoing mental illness to have
children or to perform mandatory birth control procedures on them without their consent attained at the time when
they are of sound mind.
6 Section 13. Minimum age
(1) No person shall marry who, being male, has not attained the apparent age of eighteen years or, being female,
has not attained the apparent age of fifteen years.
(2) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (1), the court shall, in its discretion, have power, on application, to
give leave for a marriage where the parties are, or either of them is, below the ages prescribed in subsection (1) if–
(a) Each party has attained the age of fourteen years; and
(b) The court is satisfied that there are special circumstances which make the proposed marriage desirable.
(3) A person who has not attained the apparent age of eighteen years or fifteen years, as the case may be, and in
respect of whom the leave of the court has not been obtained under subsection (2), shall be said to be below the
minimum age for marriage.

section 4 - (1) stipulates that ‘a person below the age of eighteen years shall be known
as a child’ this means that by legalizing female children to get married at the age of
fifteen (15) years is to condone child marriages. Section 9(1) of the Marriage Act,
emphasize that ‘marriage’ should be a ‘voluntary union,’ between the prospective
couple, which begs the question how a fifteen-year-old child, at the age which the
constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania consider still incapable of making
sound decisions such as voting7, can be considered capable of making such a
profound decision, with lifetime implications such as marriage.

Second, the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania protects autonomous
rights.8 These rights are stipulated in Section 15 (1), which states that “every person
has the right to freedom to live as a free person;” and Section 29 (1) which provides
that “every person in the United Republic has the right to enjoy fundamental human
rights.”9 In light of these provisions, a person can do whatever pleases him or her as
long as he or she does not break the laid down laws. Having children is one such
autonomous right, alongside simple rights such as the right to indulge or not to indulge
in a sexual relationship with anyone as long as such a relationship does not break the
laws of the United Republic of Tanzania.

However, autonomous rights are not allowed to infringe on the rights of children and
respectively there are provisions which initiate as well as lay the foundation for child
protection. The most sacred child right, that is right to life, is so far unequivocally
protected10. A person’s right to choose if and when to have children ends immediately

URT Constitutions, Section 5, subsection (1) states: "Every citizen of Tanzania who has attained the age of
eighteen years is entitled to vote in any election held by the people in Tanzania…"
Autonomous rights refer to the rights of individuals to have and exercise independence in mind or judgment so
that their deeds are self-directed and they enjoy independence or freedom regarding their personal will or their
actions as long as they do not break the law.
The rights were sanctified by the Act on the 5th Amendment of the Constitution of the United Republic of
Tanzania No. 15 of 1984

This is in consideration of the proposed Bill to enact the Safe Motherhood Law which seeks to alter justifications
for pregnancy termination.

before conception, after the foetus is formed, the law protects life beginning with that of
the unborn child. Under the Penal Code of Tanzania (Chapter 16, sections 150-152)11
abortion is generally prohibited to protect the life of the unborn child. The right to life is
further anchored in the URT Constitution, Section 14, which provides that “Every
person has the right to live and to the protection of his life by the society in accordance
with law.” Abortion is only acceptable to preserve the life of the woman, and her
physical and mental health. Issues such as incest (although disallowed in Marriage Act,
1971 Sec 14), rape, economic and social reasons, choice or foetal impairment are not
considered as valid ground for abortion.12

4.2 Citizenship: The Foundation of Child Rights in Tanzania

Citizenship is both a status and a set of rights (Barbalet, 1998), where as a person’s
rights derive from their attachment to a status. By virtue of legal or conventional status,
rights bestow particular capacities to persons (ibid.). In essence, legally constituted
rights are defined and enforced by public authorities (Barbalet, op cit.). Respectively,
legal rights and the capacities they entail are provided to persons as a consequence of
how they or their circumstances are categorised in the law, as a consequence of their
legal status (ibid.). In this sense, there is an identification of ‘child’ as a legal status,
and then that status is attached with certain inalienable rights. In view of this, Marshall
(2009) had pointed out that rights are not for bargaining; while on one hand, they
provide social capacities and entitlements, on the other, their contravention is subject
to sanction.

According to Section 150 of the Penal Code illegal abortion is penalized: “Any person who with intent to
procure miscarriage of a woman whether she is or is not with child unlawfully administers to her or causes her to
take any poison or noxious thing or uses any force of any kind, or uses any other means whatsoever, is guilty of a
felony and is liable to imprisonment for fourteen years”.
In Tanzania, an abortion may be performed only to save the life of a pregnant woman. Section 230 of the Code
provides that a person is not criminally responsible for performing in good faith and with reasonablele care and
skill a surgical operation upon an unborn child for the preservation of the mother’s life if the performance of the
operation is reasonable and takes cognizance of the patient’s state at the time, and all the circumstances pertaining
to the case. In addition, Section 219 of the Code provides that no person shall be guilty of the offence of causing
by willful act a child to die before it has an independent existence from its mother if the act was carried out in good
faith for the purpose of preserving the mother’s life.

Citizenship is a status bestowed on those who are full members of a national
community (Marshall, op cit.: 149), and citizenship rights, are the rights of citizens in a
community of national-state (Barbalet op cit.) In essence citizenship rights constitute
duties of the state to its members (Greaves, 1966). The basis for claim and access to
citizenship rights and privileges therefore begins with the recognition that one is a bona
fide citizen of a particular country. Accordingly, to enforce child rights, inevitably
children needs duo legal statuses, one the citizenship status, and second, the ‘child
status.’ Respectively, birth registration is an important first step towards ensuring the
rights of all children (Todres, 2003). It is for this reason that the Convention on the
Rights of the Child (UNCRC) declares nationality to be a right of every child.
Citizenship gives children entitlement to rights and privileges provided by the state and
those decreed by supra-national entities and ratified by the Government of Tanzania. It
also gives a strong premise for building an advocacy case for rights not provided but
decreed by supra-national bodies.

In this respect, child registration is essential to ensure that children’s rights can be
fulfilled (Sloth-Nielsen, 2004:10). The first problem of unregistered birth is that a child
will not get a birth certificate because the issuance of a birth certificate is subsequent to
birth registration (UNICEF, 2005). Birth certificate is a proof of both age and
citizenship. Risks associated with lack of citizenship proof include increase in chances
of children’s denial of the right to access education, health care, and other important
legal rights and public social services. Unregistered births also compromise
customized planning and effective resource allocation because beyond the statistical
and legal function, civil registration also helps with economic development (Setel et al.
2007:1569) since civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) systems generate crucial
evidence for social and economic policy as well as strategic decision making (WHO,
2013). Further, unregistered children are at greater risk of abuse, childhood marriage
and being engaged for work at a very young age. Lack of registration also exposed
children to risk of prosecution as an adult if accused of a crime. Child registration is
therefore the first step to ensure children’s “recognition before the law, safeguarding
their rights, and ensuring that any violation of these rights does not go unnoticed”
(UNICEF, 2002). It is for this reason that birth registration which Dow (1998) described
as ‘ticket to citizenship’ is considered the first child right (ibid.).

Citizenship legislation in Tanzania has its roots in the Citizenship Act No. 15 of 1961,
Cap. 512;13 the Citizenship Ordinance Act. No. 56 of 196114, Cap. 452 and the
Republic of Tanganyika (Consequential Transitional and Temporary Provisions) Act.
1962 Cap. 500,15,16 which stipulated that citizenship acquisition was by birth, by
descent and by registration. The Citizenship Ordinance was repealed by Tanzania
Citizenship Act No. 5 of 1995 which however, maintained that Tanzanian citizenship is
acquired by birth, by descent and by registration. This citizenship right is backed up by
the Births and Deaths Registration Act )CAP 108, R.E 2002 ), designed to provide for
the registration of births, which is the right of every child and a basis for the right to
access any and all citizenship rights.

The UNCRC article 7(1) directs that children are to be registered immediately after
birth and in accord, the Tanzanian Births and Deaths Registration Act, 2002 requires a
birth to be registered within 90 days of the occurrence. Unfortunately, as is the case
with Africa and most other developing nations, child registration is still very low in
Tanzania. For that reason, “most people in Africa and Asia are born and die without
leaving a trace in any legal record or official statistic” (Setel et al. 2007:1569). In the
current standings, among the ten (10) countries with largest number of unregistered
children, Tanzania ranks eighth (8th) (UNICEF, 2013). Moreover, there is very high
rural-urban disparity with the proportion of registered urban children more than four
times higher than their rural peers (ibid: 23). Due to low registration, “more than
90 percent of children younger than the age of five living on mainland Tanzania did not

Citizenship Act No. 15 of 1961 (CAP.512) was amended by the Citizenship (Amendment) Act. 19 of
Subsidiary legislations to this ordinance include: GN.431/61; GN.21/64; GN.69/67; GN.121/82
S.26 of CAP.500 stipulates: “Notwithstanding the provisions of S.4 of this Act, (CAP. 500) Chapter1
of the existing constitution as amended in accordance with the Third Schedule to this Act, shall
continue to be law after the commencement of the Republic of Tanganyika and shall have effect as if it
were an Act of Parliament and shall be cited as The Citizenship Act, 1961 and printed accordingly.

Sections 3 to 11 (inclusive) of the Citizenship Act 1961 (CAP.512) extends to the Zanzibar Subsidiary
legislation under GN. 652/1964

have birth certificates as of April 2012” (CIDA, 2014). Respondents in the study
highlighted several reasons for low births and deaths registration, including:

First, there is lack of sufficient awareness about the significance, and information about
procedures for birth registration. Although the respondents acknowledged that there
has been ample campaign for birth registration, awareness of the actual significance of
registration has not dawned on majority of the people.

“To be honest, most of our people are not aware about birth
certificates, as obvious as it may seem, but most of the people do not
even know what a birth certificate is, why it is important, what the
procedures for obtaining it are, and what immediate and long-term
implications of not having it are…; One main reason might be that,
most of the adult population in Tanzania, especially the rural
population, do not have birth certificates and throughout their lives
have never needed one, so for them to comprehend it, is not easy.”

As a result, what most people end up having is notification of birth if they happen to
have given birth at a health facility, thereafter they do not follow with birth registration
and attaining birth certificates for their children. Often, parents are prompted to and
struggle to get their children’s birth certificates when it is mandatorily required of a child
for something important such school registration. This usually causes them to seek
birth certificates well after the statutory ninety (90) days after birth. There is also a
marked difference between people living in rural areas compared to those who live in
urban areas regarding birth certificates awareness. One of the most likely factors for
the rural-urban disparity is requirement for proof age during school enrolment.

“For me, I have heard of RITA in the radio and from people… yes, I know
about birth certificates …some of my older children already have, the
young ones I will get for them… You need to have the birth certificate to
register a child in school, so I must get it for their school enrolment” (FGD
Male participant -Musoma Urban).

“No, I have never heard of RITA, who is she? …mmmh, I do not
remember during clinic visits being told about RITA or birth certificate,
no., no one ever told me about that, I do not think other women were told
as well, we talk a lot amongst ourselves, you know women share things
especially when we’re going through the same situation such as
pregnancy; so, if I missed a visit and they were told, someone would have
said something about it” (FGD Female participant- Mtwara Rural).

While it is not mandatory to provide a birth certificate for child school enrolment, the
National Education Act, No. 25 of 1978, sec. 35 (1) makes it “compulsory for every
child who has attained the age of seven years but has not attained the age of thirteen
years to be enrolled for primary education.” Proof is therefore needed to ensure that
the child has attained the required age. However, it appears that proof of birth for
school enrolment however, is practiced more in urban areas than in rural areas.

“In urban areas, schools are already overcrowded, but some parents
would want to enrol their children even when they are just five years old.
So, schools have to insist on birth certificates during enrolment because
now they are readily accessible, anyone can have it” (DSWO, 7).

“In rural areas, when you insist on birth certificates, I do not think you
will be able to enroll children for primary education. At the moment, it is
a positive thing that parents send their children to school; it was not the
case before. If now you make it mandatory for parents to present
children birth certificates for school enrolment I am sure it will
discourage most parents from registering their children for primary
education. They will say, ‘if enrolment is so much trouble, let the child
stay at home.’ …I know that sometimes for proof of birth, in rural areas
they request the card that the mother used for clinic visits, but I do not
think most have them either. After all those years, the cards are lost or
ruined somehow. I think for rural areas, school enrolment base much
more on estimate of age than factual proof” (DSWO, 11).

Secondly, the attainment of birth certificates particularly for rural dwellers has proven to
be a difficult task. Birth certificates are processed by the Registration, Insolvency and
Trusteeship Agency (RITA) at the district offices. Thus, villagers have to travel from the
village to do birth registration and then follow-ups for the certificate. Some of the

logistical issues involved include, distance from the village to the district headquarters,
financial implications associated with travelling and for some people staying overnight
for a day or two, to log the application. Further, attainment of the registration is not yet
a one-day process and requires one returning there some other day for follow or
collection of the certificate.

“You have to imagine that in this very modern Tanzania some people have
never ventured outside their villages to go as far as the district
headquarters. If you conducted a study, you will be surprised with actually
how many people have not. Again, some people have travelled out of the
villages to go to or beyond their district headquarters, perhaps once or
twice, just a handful of times their entire lives. Then now they have to go
for just a child’s birth certificate, which they do not see any immediate
tangible benefit for…, I can assure you, most people will simply not do it.
Travelling and the whole thing is more complicated for them, than you can
imagine.” (DSWO 7).

This is also confounded by the fact that there is no certainty that on the appointment
day one will for sure find the certificate ready, which might require another follow up
trip. The long distance between most villages and their respective district headquarters
is therefore a prohibitive factor that limits immediate child birth registration and has
discouraged many rural dwellers from seeking children’s birth certificates.

Third, while giving birth in a health facility enables someone to immediately attain a
Notification of Birth, there are still many deliveries taking place outside health facilities
and attended to by family members, friends, neighbours and traditional birth attendants
(Mrisho et al, 2007; Prata, et al. 2005; Walraven, et al. 1995). For births which did not
take place in a health facility, one has to report to the Village Executive Officer or the
District Registrar of Births and Deaths to obtain the Notification of Birth, and from
thereon, start processes of birth registration. In rural Tanzania where majority of home
births takes place, most of the people are not aware of this procedure. In this study,
majority of FGDs participants from rural areas said they did not know the procedure to
follow to get a birth certificate irrespective of whether the child is born in the hospital or

at home, while participants from urban localities were more aware, but had inconsistent
information about the procedures. While most of the FGD participants from rural areas
stated that they had not attained birth certificates for their children or attempted to,
most believed it must involve corruption, and would be an arduous process. It is
therefore possible that giving birth outside a health facility and a conviction, though not
based on evidence, that getting a birth certificate ‘must be’ a complicated process that
‘must be’ facilitated by corruption, increases the chances of delayed birth registration.

Fourth, some of the respondents also highlighted that the TZS 3,500/- required as a
birth certificate registration fee if done with ninety (90) days of birth, and TZS. 4000/-
for delayed birth registration i.e. over ninety (90) days since birth but below ten (10)
years, is prohibitive for some families. This is because money is scarce and always
needed for something urgent; therefore, paying for birth registration which they
perceive as having no immediate urgency becomes quite irrational. Weighed against
costs and other pressing priorities, birth registration is not considered urgent and is put
on hold. For that reason, birth registration cost, but most profound, logistics costs
involved for rural dwellers to follow up and attain birth certificates, have significant time
and financial cost implications for low income earners and makes the cost element one
of the main stumbling blocks for universal child registration in Tanzania.

While in some African countries such Uganda traditional beliefs and taboos were
highlighted as unsupportive of birth registration;17 that did not emerge as constrain in
the localities of this study. Low awareness about both birth registration, procedures to
flow and the importance of birth registration; lack of pressure to ensure birth
registration particularly for rural dwellers, as well as inherent financial and logistical
constrains, seem to be the main reason why there is low birth registration in Tanzania.

See for instance in Bequele, A. (2005:17) Universal birth registration: The challenge in Africa. A paper prepared
for the Second Eastern and Southern Africa Conference on Universal Birth Registration Mombasa, Kenya,
September 26 – 30, 2005, The African Child Policy Forum, 25 pgs

Beyond children welfare, there are other diverse implications for non-comprehensive
civil registration. The biggest cost is what Setel et al. (2007) has described as the ‘cost
of ignorance.’ Without comprehensive information and statistics, governments are blind
about concrete conditions across localities, at a cost of effective strategic planning. It is
this argued that, “the continued cost of ignorance borne by countries without civil
registration far outweighs the affordable necessity of action” (Setel et al. op cit.:1569).
Respectively, regarding low birth registration for children of Tanzania, I recommend
two key action points for the Government of Tanzania through RITA, the National
Identification Authority (NIA) and other key stakeholders such as the Ministry of Health,
the President’s Office Planning Commission (POPC), and the National Bureau of
Statistics etc.

First, to ensure that the population, especially parents are well-informed on the
significance of timely birth registration to inspire a desire to ensure their children are
registered and have a birth certificate on time. To achieve this, it is essential that
comprehensive civil registration is made mandatory, and utilise multi-outlets in the
grassroots for information dissemination and awareness rising. Involvement of
grassroots health facilities, grassroots institutions of governance, schools, faith-based
institutions, etc. can be effective mediums of communication and facilitation.
Awareness rising need to be coupled with an interim registration system, specifically be
developed to take care of the registration backlog, with the intention that within a
specific time frame it will phase out as a more sustainable comprehensive system is
institutionalised and stabilises.

Secondly, there is need for innovation to put in place a system that makes birth
registration and certification practical, accessible and affordable, particularly
addressing the logistical question of how to sustainably serve rural communities. For
cost effectiveness, rather than parallel systems, it is important to consider institutional
complimentary between RITA, NIA, NBS and other key stakeholders. To begin with a
sustainable, comprehensive registration system that considers the logistical and
grassroots institutional structure of Tanzania be designed. To make the system cost

effective, it can be conceptualized as a multi-fed centralised data base system that
capture a variety of key data sources and is useful to numerous data users. With that in
mind, among the main system considerations will be ensuring quality of data, methods
of data entry to be seamless in routine delivery of service, capturing of vital statistics,
and integrated data sources.

4.3 The Taxonomy of Child Vulnerability

The World Bank defines vulnerability as "a high probability of a negative outcome" or
“an expected welfare loss above a socially accepted norm, which results from
risky/uncertain events, and the lack of appropriate risk management instruments” (WB,
2004:7). Respectively, a vulnerable child is understood to be a person who is under the
age of 18 years and is currently at high risk of lacking adequate care and protection
(ibid.). While by nature all children are vulnerable compared to adults, it is evident that
some children are more critically vulnerable than others. In this regard, attention is to
children who live in circumstances that strangles or have the potential to constrain the
realisation of their natural rights. It is also noteworthy that, child vulnerability is viewed
as “a downward spiral where each shock leads to a new level of vulnerability and each
new level opens up for a host of new risks. In other words, the probability of a child
experiencing a negative outcome rises with each shock” (ibid.). With that in mind,
prevention, timely intervention and sustainable crisis management is crucial, if children
are to be swerved from paths of destruction.

In Tanzania, and I believe elsewhere particularly in Africa, risks that expose children to
vulnerability are consistently manifested in four main conditions, I have called the
‘Taxonomy of Child Vulnerability.’ These conditions are, first, unfit parents, where
children’s biological or legal parents, who form the first line institution for child care, can
for various reasons be considered unfit to care for the child adequately. For example,
they may still be children themselves; or have mental illnesses deemed to make them
incapable of adequately caring for children or which may cause them to harm children,
etc. Thus far, children are not protected from being born by any person for any reason
including mental instability, incest, hereditary diseases, poverty, disability or any factor
which may constrain the ability of the biological parent to provide basic care and
support to the child or expose the child to risk of vulnerability.18

Illustration II: The Taxonomy of Child Vulnerability


(Nuclear and Extended)



Source: Author

Secondly, children born with special needs: A child might be born with special needs
beyond the reasonable or normal expectations and ability of the family to manage. For
example, a child might be born with a financially, time and attention demanding
medical condition or an extremely challenging physiological condition. In such
circumstances, it depends on the parents’ and/or societal systemic capacity,
willingness and arrangement regarding how to manage and cushion the effects of such
challenge to both children and their parents. The persecution and marginalisation of

In case, for instance, a woman with a chronic mental disorder conceives from sexual intercourse with a man,
or if the woman was not of sound mental state at the time of the sexual intercourse that led to conception, the
case may be treated as rape to the woman but does not justify carrying out an abortion. However, the Bill to
enact the Safe Motherhood Law presented to the Parliamentarian Safe Motherhood Working Group in
February 2012, part v, Section 17 (1) (a) - (d) seeks to alter grounds for pregnancy termination and among
things proposes that (c) the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest, and d) the pregnant woman, on account of
being an mentally disordered person, is not capable of appreciating pregnancy, be eligible for termination.

people with disability has been universal phenomenon overtime (Kisanji, 1995).
Further, there are cultural anecdotes which suggest that in traditional Tanzania and
Africa, children born with disabilities and uncommon cases such as albinism were
subjected to ‘mercy’ or ‘hostile’ killings by midwives (Cruz-Inigo et al., 2011:80;
Bryceson et al., 2010: 367-368). Unfortunately, in Tanzania we seem not to be past the
darkest days for persons with disability. While in the developed world, rays of justice,
acceptance, inclusion, equity and opportunity brilliantly shine for people with disability,
in Tanzania, institutional, social cultural and individual limitations are still significant
barriers for children with disability to enjoy their natural rights. These are some of the
inhibitors which still see children with various forms of disability hidden and/or failing to
access their basic rights particularly education.

Thirdly, failing family, which refers to a situation where the traditional child welfare
institution i.e. parents /guardians and/or the extended family, fail to ensure child social
protection or child protection. This failure can be an outcome of many things including
for example, extreme poverty; a dysfunctional family; life risks such as disability or
unemployment, or situations where the family or its members becomes perpetrators of
crimes against children. At the moment, Tanzania has conceded that the goal to
eradicate extreme poverty and hunger by end of the validity of Millennium
Development Goals (MDGs) this 2015 is unachievable, with over thirty percent of the
population still below the national income poverty line (URT, 2011). Further, it has
been established that, the economic growth of Tanzania is concurrent with increasing
joblessness (Wuyts & Kilama, 2014). Extreme poverty and joblessness are conditions
that readily expose children to vulnerability (Duncan & Brooks‐Gunnet, 2000; Lee &
Goerge, 1999). On the one hand, such situations are confounded by the persistent
decline of the traditional social support system, and on the other, some crimes against
children are anchored in traditional cultural practices. Traditionally, the extended family
did effectively step in and support either individuals in crisis or children who have
become orphaned, or vulnerable as a result of their parents’ dire situations or life
occurrences such as an unexpected, unplanned or unmanaged loss of income
occasioned by disability or injury, death, loss of a job etc. However, practices such as

child marriage, child female genital mutilations and others we will observe
subsequently, are hinged on traditional cultural practices, which makes traditional
institutions both the protector of child welfare and the perpetrator of crimes against

Fourth, failing society: The community and society may fail children when there are
challenges and risks to children posed by individuals or circumstances outside the
realm of the household or the family network. For example, child abductors,
paedophilias, rapists, war, hunger, disease outbreaks, adverse traditional practices
such as witch craft, etc. The case in point is for instance the profuse cruelty and killings
of persons, including children with albinism (Burke, et al. 2014), which present another
momentous child protection challenge in Tanzania. How do parents and families
manage by themselves to ensure the personal security of their children with albinism?

4.4 Child Welfare in Tanzania: The Institutional Context

This section provides a concise description of the concrete measures, key pillars and
main provisions for child welfare in Tanzania and flags out existing child protection and
child social protection gaps. It operationalizes the theoretical framework (provided
above), by decoding how it works in practice. The focus is identification and
assessment of institutional arrangement in place to ensure children across the nation
enjoy their natural rights. Two questions are posed as a basis of this exploration. First,
what institutional arrangements are in place to facilitate, provide and ensure that basic
CSP and CP rights are enjoyed as citizenship rights for all the children in the country,
irrespective of the context or circumstances they are born in. Secondly, what
responsive institutional arrangements are in place to provide support for vulnerable

4.4.1 Institutional Setup for Child Welfare in Tanzania

While deliberately oblivious to informal and traditional institutions, a bird’s view
observation, my synthesis is that in Tanzania, there are three institutional pillars
through which CP and CSP is fostered as ‘children’s citizenship right.’ These are Social
Policies, Social Security Schemes and Systems and Social Work Practice: Social Policies

Social policies “refer to the actions taken within society to develop and deliver services
for people in order to meet their needs for welfare and wellbeing” (Alcock, 2008 :2);
and entail “state activities affecting the social status and life chances of groups,
families, and individuals” (Skocpol & Amenta, 1986:132). In sense, social policies can
be described as articulated principles, public guidelines, related legislations and related
programmes and activities that affect the living conditions conducive to human
wellbeing and human welfare (Burger, 2014:272, Russell & Cohn, 2012; Vargas-
Hernande, et al. 2011:287). As Barbalet (op cit.:20), observed, certain rights serve as a
means to the social acquisition of material conditions which might not otherwise be
available. He cites welfare rights which entitle persons to a minimum level of material
wellbeing, thereby providing access to certain opportunities and conditions. It is in this
sense that Fitzpatrick (2011:2) conceives of social policies as “a means by which
society moves itself in one direction or the other; some address the social (in) justice of
underlying conditions; some are concerned with improving the behaviour and habits of

Illustration III: Institutional Setup for Child Welfare in Tanzania

Source: Author

Respective to child rights, social policies are primarily essential in addressing matters
of ‘child social protection’ because they stipulate the minimum acceptable standards
of living and outlines social protection rights which are citizenship rights. 19 An important
feature of public policies, including social policies is that they are lines of action
pursued through the state (Skocpol &Amenta, op cit.:131). This means that, the state
classifies ‘itemized issues’ as national priorities and is focused on ensuring their
realization through the government machinery. In the same vein, other non-state
actors, regardless of the fact that they are voluntary agencies, if they choose to act,
then they are obliged to complement state’s effort by designing their intervention within

However, Titmuss (1974) warns that ‘policies’ should not be taken for granted as necessarily altruistic,
beneficent or welfare oriented in the sense of improving the welfare of the marginalized or the lot of the general
population. They can also function as concealed multipliers of inequality (Titmuss, 1974: 26-27)

the framework of provided guidelines and with the intention to participate in the
implementation of articulated national policies. The Tanzania NGOs Policy (2001) p.3
for instance highlights the role of NGOs to include strengthening of civil society and
helping attune to Government Policies, while sec 7 (i) of the NGOs Act No. 24 of 2002
guides the national Non-Governmental Organizations Coordinating Board to “provide
Policy guidelines to Non-Governmental Organizations for harmonizing their activities in
the light of the national development plan.” The Tanzania Law of Child Act, 2009
stipulates key children’s right to include the right to grow up with parents, the right to
name and nationality (discussed above, under the caption ‘Citizenship Rights: The
Foundation of Child Rights in Tanzania’), and basic rights such as food, shelter,
clothing, medical care, immunization, education and the right to play and leisure. In
Tanzania, key child social protection rights addressed explicitly through national social
policies include: children’s right to basic education, children’s right to basic health
services (i.e. medical care and immunisation); and children’s right to adequate diet i.e.
food. These will be elaborately discussed below, as follows:

First, children’s right to basic education: Under the custodian and coordinating ministry,
i.e. the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training (MEVT), up until 2014, Tanzania
was implementing the ‘Education and Training Policy of 1995, which has been
replaced by the Education and Training Policy of 2014. Chapter 3, of the Education
and Training Policy (1995) broadly provides for access and equity in education and
training. In section 3.2.1., the policy commits that the “government shall guarantee
access to pre-primary and primary and adult literacy to all citizens as a basic right” and
in section 3.2.4. it decrees that “primary education shall be universal and compulsory to
all children at the age of 7 years until they complete this cycle of education.” This is
consistent with the National Education Act, 1978, sect 35 (1) which declares that “it
shall be compulsory for every child who has attained the age of seven years but has
not attained the age of thirteen years to be enrolled for primary education.” Parents
(which also include legal guardians) are obligated to ensure the child consistently
attend school. Sec 35 (2) orders that “[t]he parents or parents of every child
compulsorily enrolled for primary education shall ensure that the child regularly attends

the primary school at which he[/she] is enrolled until he[/she] completes primary
education schools”. Sec 35 (3) orders, every pupil enrolled at any national school to
regularly attend the school at which he/she is enrolled until he/she completes the
period of instruction specified. Respectively, it is a right for all children in Tanzania,
regardless of colour, sex, ethnicity, creed, economic status, physiology or any other
potential barrier, to be enrolled in public schools and access primary education. The
state covers the basic costs associated with the provision of universal primary school in
the country, and therefore there is no payment of school fees. The Education and
Training Policy of 2014, sec. 3.1.3, goes a step further and revise the hedge of primary
education. In this section, the Government of Tanzania has declared basic and
compulsory universal primary education to be from standard one and encompass the
ordinary level of secondary education. This section also revises the enrolment age for
children to start standard one, and open registration eligibility to begin from the age of
4 years old up to 6 years old. Section 3.1.5 re-affirms the government’s commitment
that primary education in all public schools will not attract payment of school fees.

The intention to ensure universal basic primary education is both local and
international. This is attested by the international community’s consensus through the
United Nations, to include ‘achievement of universal primary school’ as the second
goal of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) targeted to be achieved in a span
of quarter a century, between 1990 and 2015.20 Under the guidance of the Education
and Training Policy (1995), the National Education Act, No. 25 of 1978 and the
coordination of the MoEVT; and as a national priority and an MDG target, various
measures have been deployed by the government to realise universal primary
education in Tanzania. The major initiative currently under implementation is the
Education Sector Development Programme (ESDP) covering the span of years 2008 to
2017, and in particular the third Primary Education Development Programme (PEDP
III) under implementation between 2012 up until2016. Analysis of the intricacies,
progress and impact of the PEDPs is beyond the scope of this study. However, while I
have not come across any PEDP III (2012-2016) or PEDP II (2007- 2011) evaluations,

See for instance at

PEDP I progress evaluation is attempted elsewhere21. Nevertheless, it is worth noting
that the assessment of Tanzania’s progress in achieving the Millennium Development
Goal 2, which target primary education enrolment, indicates that the country is on track
to achieving the target of 100% enrolment by 2015 because by 2012 the net enrolment
ratio was at 95.4%, up from 54.2 in the year 1990 (POPC, 2013). However, as noted
above, child registration is still major problem in Tanzania, respectively how accurate
are the statistics on child enrolment? Without proper birth registration, it will be quite a
challenge to ascertain success in school enrolment.

The government’s efforts to provide free universal primary school is commended
especially because the cost element has been variously noted as one of the leading
prohibitive factors for school enrolment and continuation to completion of studies
(Burke, & Beegle, 2004; Al-Samarrai & Reilly, 2000). However, beyond the fees
element, there are many other deterrents for children enrolment and/or completion of
basic primary education, with “dropout rates as high as nearly 40% in some regions”
(Wedgwood, 2007:6). PMO-RALG (2014) for instance shows that truancy, pregnancy,
deaths, illness, poverty and a host of other causes resulted in 55,302 children dropping
out of primary school across the country in the year 2013 alone. Truancy is a leading
cause, attributable to 41,870 dropouts.

Table II: Primary Schools Student Dropout by Reason and Percentage Distribution 2012

Sn. Reason Quantity Percentage

1 Truancy 41870 75.7

2 Pregnancy 2433 4.4

3 Death 1443 2.6

4 Illness 1110 2.0

Davidson, E. (2004). The progress of the primary education development plan (PEDP) in Tanzania: 2002-2004.
Dar Es Salaam: Tanzania: HakiElimu.

5 Poverty 3222 5.8

6 Others 5224 9.4

TOTAL 55302 100

Source: PMO-RALG (2014, p.19)

The National Education Act, 1978, section 35, (2) and (3) insist on child enrolment,
regular school attendance and completion of primary education. However, two
questions need addressing, one, which institution/authority is responsible to oversee
and ensure parents /guardians/ and or children unfailingly comply with these
requirements? and two, in exceptional circumstances of child vulnerability, e.g. child-
headed households, extreme poverty etc. who takes such responsibility? These
questions come to mind as we consider the problem of truancy. The rate of truancy is
alarming; because it is in itself a major red alarm as far as child welfare is concerned.
Garry (1996) identified truancy as a serious problem that has major consequences to
the future of young people and society. He identified some of the problems which are
often the outcome of truancy to include, dropping out of school; a precursor to
delinquent and criminal activity; placing students at higher risk of being drawn into
negative behaviors involving drugs, alcohol, or violence, and high costs to society. Bell
et al. (1994) highlighted that truancy is a problem that needs intervention. They
provided a three-level intervention which include, first the assessment of truancy
causes and the needs of the individual, including developing an individual intervention
program. Second, assessment of truant student's family to determine if truancy is due
to familial dysfunction or conflict and perhaps provision of parenting skills training.
Thirdly, they recommend consideration for innovations in the school system to
accommodate truant student needs.

Other causes such as pregnancy, poverty and a myriad of other issues all reflect an
institutional weakness in ensuring child protection and child social protection in the
country, which implies that there are still institutional gaps which need sober
consideration. When we consider the enrolment age of children in primary school, we

can infer that most children in primary schools are below 18 years old. When we have
widespread pregnancy at this level, it means child pregnancy and culprits of
impregnating school children, according to SOSPA are guilty of rape 22. However, as it
would be shown below, bringing such culprits to justice has been a challenge, and the
problem seems unabated.

There is always a possibility that some children will be denied access and enjoyment of
their basic rights, even when those rights are provided by the state. As such, social
work practice is relevant and crucial as an intervention mechanism. Without an
effective social work practice in the country, some children will most certainly be left
out. The Tanzania Education Act (1978), for example, relies on the existence of
guardians or parents to ensure that all school-age children are enrolled and regularly
attend school. Yet, there are many evidences that sometimes parents/guardians are
pioneers in denying children their rights. Ideally, social work practice come in and
intercedes in case the family fail in their responsibilities for any reason. The failure of
having an effective social work practice in the country makes the institutional setup of
ensuring universal primary education porous and many children can and do miss the
available opportunity to access basic education because of that institutional weakness.
In Tanzania, social work practice has the potential to be linked with grassroots
institutions of governance, from ward level, downward to street and village levels, up to
sub-village/hamlets and cell leadership levels to ensure that there is an institutional
presence and responsiveness beyond the family. This arrangement will ensure that
there is an institutional arrangement specifically designed to shoulder the responsibility
of ensuring that all school-age children in a particular locality are enrolled and actively
attend school to completion.

Second, children’s right to basic health services: Health: For the sake of women and
the pregnancies they are carrying, and in inclination to the Millennium Development

SOSPA-4 (1998) part II, in the amendment of the penal code [130(2) (e)] declares it rape if a male person
engages in sexual intercourse with a woman with or without her consent when she is less than eighteen years of
age, unless the woman is his lawful wife who is fifteen or older and is not separated from the man.

Goals no 4 (reduction of child mortality) and no. 5 (improvement of maternal health),
the Tanzania National Health Policy (NHP) of 2007 section 5.3.4 (b) and (c) (i) declare
free access to basic healthcare for pregnant women in Tanzania and under five years
old children in all public hospitals. Free healthcare for pregnant women covers prenatal
care, delivery services, post-natal care, requisite immunisations, and general primary
health care. Furthermore, all under-five Tanzanian children have the right to access
post-natal care including all requisite immunisations free of charge in all public
hospitals and ‘not for profit’ health facilities. However, from a child welfare perspective,
there are several things which need attention as far as the national health policy and
universal access to basic healthcare for children is concerned:

One of the clearly protruding issues is the incessant complaint that despite NHP
declaration that maternal health services are free, in practice antenatal, birth and post-
natal care cost substantially in Tanzania (Mackintosh, et al. 2013). There are frequent
complaints that health facilities are not sufficiently equipped to ensure consistent
sufficient supply of medicines, utensils and other essential services delivery items.
Things which are supposed to be free are often unavailable and people are forced to
pay or purchase from private suppliers and there are numerous costs related to
accessing health services.

“To be truthful, in our health facilities, even government facilities, if you
are poor, you do not have money, you can die for even something very
small. Money is everything these days, not humanity…. They say,
maternal health is free, it is not true. We pay for everything. When you
attend clinic, they give you a list of items you will need, and you have to
buy and pack everything you will need when you go for delivery
because they are not available in the hospital… If you dare not bring,
then you will just have to deliver by yourself, no midwife will lift a finger
to assist you …It is also an open secret that you or your family has to tip
nurses and midwives so that they can be nice and supportive to you in
your time of need.” (Female FGD participant- Tarime).

In resonance to this observation, Mackintosh et al. (op cit. p.7) had found that
“…women made a wide variety of payments for maternal care. These included

payments for transport; payments for supplies and medicines at a facility or bought in
local shops; payments for treatments and for tests sometimes also bought outside the
facility providing care; payments to facility staff; admission and in-patient charges; gifts
to staff and helpers; and other miscellaneous payments.”

The question of cost seems to have a wide-ranging domino effect. It has been
cautioned for instance that in Tanzania, high direct payments and the fear of unofficial
costs are acute barriers to the use of maternity services (Kowalewski, et al. 2002:65,
71). Again, it has been previously flagged that in some rural areas of Tanzania, 47% of
the women deliver their babies at home and 66% deliver without a trained assistant
(Hinderaker et al. 2003:617). This should be considered alongside findings that more
than 50% of neonatal deaths occur after home birth without skilled care attendance,
and in Tanzania, home births without a trained attendant resulted in a three times
higher perinatal mortality than those in a health facility with trained attendants (Mrisho
et al. 2007). In Tanzania, home deliveries pose the greatest risk of maternal death
mostly due low ability to control postpartum hemorrhage (Prata et al. 2005). Home
deliveries have also been linked to perinatal mortality i.e. (stillbirths and early neonatal
deaths). It has been established that most of these deaths are due to infections and
asphyxia and almost 40% of them occur at home (Hinderaker, op cit.).

As indicated above, the national health policy commitment is to provide free basic
healthcare for all children who are less than five years old. Therefore, another issue is
that of health insurance coverage for children who are in the age range between five 5
years old and eighteen years old. Children in this category are still dependent or should
still be dependent on their parents and/or guardians for their basic needs. Without state
commitment to ensure basic healthcare to children in this category, they rely almost
exclusively in their parents and guardians. Since, as noted above more than 80% of
the African population has no health insurance, therefore “health care relationships are
generally also market transactions requiring out-of-pocket payment” (Tibandege &
Mackintosh, 2005: 1385). This means children who are above five years old in these

households do not have health insurance coverage, and their access to decent health
directly related to financial capacity of their parents or guardians.

“Caring for children, and not only vulnerable children, even our own
children, is a big responsibility, especially when they become sick.
Medical costs are high, and it is not often that one has money at the time
when children fall sick. You have to think where to get money first before
visiting a health facility, because even if you go with a sick child, without
money, the child will not be attended.” (Male FGD participant – Mtwara

“When a child falls sick and you do not have money, going to the hospital
does not help. Seeing the doctor, laboratory tests, and everything you
have to pay upfront at each stage so if you do not have money when a
child fall sick you just have to find other means…. means like may be just
buying medicine from pharmacy or in the shops.” (Female FGD
participant – Mtwara Urban).

“I think not having cash when the child gets seek also contribute to
people opting to go to traditional healers for herbals. With a traditional
healer, you can bring alternative payment like a chicken, maize etc.
Sometimes, they can give you herbals and money; you will give them at a
future date when you get. That is not possible in the hospitals” (Male FGD
participant – Mtwara Rural).

Compulsory out of pocket payment in accessing healthcare has implications on
guardians’ and parents’ patterns of health seeking behaviour for their children. As
indicated, it may lead to delays in seeking child treatment, self-medication or
deterrence from the bio-medical model and resorting to traditional healers. While most
respondents were not against the idea of paying for health services, the challenge
mostly hotly flagged was that, often illness happens when one does not have money,
and some that they were too poor to afford, or in case of supporting vulnerable
children, they stated that they did not have any support for taking care for instance of
sick orphaned children. In a literature review intending to determine poor people’s
experience of health services in Tanzania, Mamdani & Bangser (2004) found that while
majority ‘expressed readiness to pay for improved quality of health services’ (p. 139); it

was also established that the, “the cost of accessing care is a critical determinant of
whether or not care is sought” (p. 142). Considering the poverty levels in both rural and
urban Tanzania, it is likely that people will most cases be in need of medical attention
while pressed for cash. One of the most reliable means of ensuring universal
healthcare coverage for children in the ‘five years old to eighteen years old cluster’ is to
provide them with access to a health insurance scheme. The current public health
insurance scheme is anchored in the complimentary operation two institutional
pathways namely the National Health Insurance Fund, established by Act No 8 of 1999
and Community Health Fund, established by Act No 1 of 2001.

The National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) is compulsory, contributory scheme
primarily covering civil servants, ward councilors, the armed forces and students in
higher learning institutions. Private sector and informal sector employees are eligible
but on voluntary basis. To date, in Tanzania there is no law that make health insurance
compulsory to all, which is the most reliable way of ensuring accessibility of health
services by everyone. Because of that, the scheme covers primarily people who are
secure in the formal employment,23 while majority of people in the informal sector are
not, because the law does not compulsorily require. It should be noted that, often
individuals’ financial allocations often are determined by their individual subjective
priorities. Given a choice most people will not contribute in social security schemes, or
insure their vehicles, despite the fact that they may know the benefits of such social
arrangements. It is in this sense that compulsory public measures are necessary to
ensure people prioritise taking responsibility of preparing for potential risks such as
illness, old age, accidents etc. Without health insurance for instance, in case of the
inability of the parents or guardians to pay for healthcare when the child needs it, the
child becomes immediately vulnerable since there is no reliable and sustainable health
social protection mechanism available. Such risks should not be left entirely in the
whims of the individual. Obviously, the law makes it compulsory where it is ‘easy’ to
ensure compliance, however, the priority should be welfare and not convenience.

By means of social security, members are protected. Thus, in case of a contingency, they can still live a
decent life or their dependents will not fall into depravity and they can get benefits such as medical
care, child maintenance, unemployed pay, compensations, retirement benefits, etc.

Again, it should be noted that in the NHIF benefits schemes, there is no provision for
vulnerable groups. Therefore, while society might identify particular children as most
vulnerable children (MVC), there is no mechanism through which their healthcare can
be ensured by the state.

Community Health Funds (CHFs) is a voluntary, contributory health insurance scheme
established to cover particularly grassroots community especially peasants, the
informal sector and other marginal groups which mainly due to a range of requisite
inflexible qualifying conditions, could not be covered by the existing mainstream public
and private health insurance services. The scheme was at first introduced in the
Country as a pilot in 1996 in Igunga District and later rolled out in other districts (Mtei &
Mulligan, 2007; Msuya et al. 2007). The CHF concept was developed in the wake of
the health sector reform in Tanzania, whose basic idea was transferring of part of
healthcare costs to “users and to develop eventually health insurance schemes which
help the households to pre-pay for medical services in advance of sickness” (Swantz,
1996:39). At its infancy, the scheme was administered collaboratively by the Ministry of
Health and Social Welfare (MOHSW) and Prime Ministers’ Office – Regional
Administration and Local Government (PMO-RALG) (ibid.). Cabinet 37/2007 decisions
directed the MoHSW that activities of the mutually related funds i.e. NHIF and CHF be
synchronised, and on “4th June 2009, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was
signed by the NHIF, the MoHSW, and the Prime Minister’s Office for Regional
Administration and Local Government (PMO-RALG) giving management responsibility
for the CHF to the NHIF24” (Borghi et al., 2013:4), from thereon CHF was pegged to
NHIF, with the latter mandated to support CHFs effective 2009 (Stoermer, et al. 2011).

Moving away from out-of-pocket payments and towards a greater reliance on
prepayment funding mechanisms is essential to redress access challenges in health
services (Macha et al. 2012: i47). In the same line of thinking, CHF was designed as a
pre-payment council’s based scheme aimed at facilitating the community to access
health care at an affordable premium which as per sec 8. (1) of the Community Health

For preliminary experience of integrating NHIF with CHF see Borghi et al., 2013

Fund Act 2001, is determined by the responsible District Council in consultation with
the respective community. Respectively, all decision-making powers regarding the
operation and management of the CHF are left to the individual communities and
district administrations (Munishi, 2003:121). For this reason, while CHFs have
consistent basic principles across districts, they may have varying conditions
depending on the local context. For instance, because the respective CHF committee
determines the amount to be contributed by the members, one CHF may differ from
another in applicable membership fees. Further, according to sec 9 of the Community
Health Fund Act 2001, CHF members can only use their membership cards in
preselected health care facility within the respective district; which means they can only
access health services from health facilities which have a specific agreement with that
particular CHF, in the respective locality. In this regard, if a member is outside the
respective locality, then they have no health insurance coverage. Consolidating CHF’s
operations and establishing consistent operational procedures across the country
might open up opportunities for the CHFs to grow and ensure that coverage is not only
tied to a locality the individual lives in, but can also be used even when there is a
change of location of residence or when one travels to another area.

CHFs have the potential to reach majority of the people in the grassroots, especially
those not employed in the formal sector. However, there are observed challenges
pertaining to CHFs which if addressed could widen the scope for health insurance
coverage in the country. For instance, the fact that membership in CHF’s is voluntary,
leaves wide open the avenue for majority of people not to register. Together with low
grassroots CHFs sensitisation (Kamuzora & Gilson, 2007) and limited insightful
community comprehension of the concept health insurance makes voluntary
registration quite difficult. For example, in both Mara and Mtwara none of the MVCC
members who participated in the FGDs were registered members of a community
health fund. It was evident that CHFs are not well known by potential members, since
for instance most MVCCs members were not aware exactly how they operate.

“I think this community fund is very shady. For example, where are their
offices, if someone wants to be a member what are they supposed to do?
You sometimes hear about it once and you don’t hear about it again.”
(Male FGD participant– Serengeti).

In particular, Community Health Funds were chastised for not paying attention to
particularly vulnerable children in the respective localities, despite promises that when
MVCC’s were established vulnerable children will get free CHF membership cards.

“I remember when we became MVCC members, we were told all vulnerable
children will get cards free in case they become ill they just go to hospital or
to a health centre, and they get treatment free. But none of the children got
any card, and no one can say anything about it.” (Female FGD participant–

However, according to sec. 10 (1) of the Community Health Fund Act 2001, the powers
to issue exemption to pay Community Health Fund annual contribution to any person is
vested into the Ward Health Committee (WHC) after receiving recommendations from
the Village Council. This section also stipulated that it is the Council which should
authorize that person to obtain a Community Health Fund card. Sub sec (2) of the
same section however directs that the exempting authority i.e. the village council, shall
seek alternative means of compensating the Fund when issuing any exemptions. The
only other authority mandated to issue exemptions for payment of annual CHF
contribution is the Minister responsible for health matters, in this case the Minister in
the MoHSW, after consultation with the respective District Council. Lack of awareness
of these provisions, resulted in MVCCs being stuck respective to how vulnerable
children can attain free CHF membership cards.

The study did not venture into assessing health services providers and CHF’s
members’ respective experiences because it was beyond its scope of interest, and
especially because such an undertaking deserves a study in its own right 25. The study

Such an exercise is attempted in Muya S. M. (2014) Provision of Primary Health Services under Community-
Based Health Insurance Schemes: A case of Community Health Fund (CHF) in Bahi Ward, Dodoma, MA
(Sociology) Dissertation, University of Dar es Salaam, 98 pgs

did not also explore community member’s capacity or willingness to pay for health
insurance. The fact that so far, the CHF’s premiums are determined locally would
indicate that it is set with affordability considerations for the targeted community.
Further, willingness to pay, ability to pay and the question of value for money, i.e.
implying the relationship between premiums paid and quality of service rendered, are
issues that also deserve independent studies. This is because spending patterns and
spending priorities for low income people is a complex issue. For instance, while on
one hand there are concerns that ‘cost of care can plunge poor households deeper into
poverty’ (Macha et al. 2012: i53); on the other hand, it has also been observed that
while poor people certainly spend their meagre incomes on essential goods and
services, they also spend significant amounts on modern and indigenous forms of
entertainment, including alcohol, tobacco and festivals etc. (Banerjee & Duflo,
2007:145-6). The primary intention of the study was to ascertain available institutional
options and existing institutional gaps for attainment of universal child health insurance
coverage in Tanzania to realise children’s right to healthcare. At the moment the
combined coverage of health insurance schemes in Tanzania, CHF inclusive, covers
about 10% of the population (Mills, et al. 2012:3); and “in view of the low level of
coverage by insurance schemes, out-of-pocket payments remain a major share of
health-care funding in Tanzania” (ibid.). Again, it has been observed that in Tanzania
there is ‘limited understanding of the concept of risk pooling’ which significantly affects
people’s willingness to join insurance schemes’ (Macha et al, 2012: i51, i52). In this
regard, I see that, reforming the national health policy and related legislations to
pronounce compulsory universal health insurance coverage; consolidation of CHFs
across the country, which is very much possible under the auspices of NHIF, and
comprehensive community sensitisation are crucial preliminary institutional measures
towards widening the hedge for children health insurance coverage, an important
getaway for attainment of general health insurance across the population and
ascertaining of health insurance effectiveness, all of which will directly benefit majority
of children across the nation.

The third dimension of child social protection rights encompasses adequate diet,
clothing and shelter, which are below:

“Suppose I asked you to imagine a courtroom in which a stern judge peers
with indifference at a baby — and off-handedly condemns the infant either to
death or a life shorter than her peers, with poorer cognitive capacity, more
likelihood of disease and less ability to learn at school and earn as an adult.
Of course, you would say this is unimaginable. What judge, or human being,
would do such a thing?” (Lake, 2012).

Tanzania has a young population as slightly over 47% of its people are below 15 years
of age (NBS, 2011:11), in other words we can say over forty-seven per cent of its
population constitute children. The currently effective Food and Nutrition Policy for
Tanzania (1992:20), recognise young children as a special group nutrition-wise. The
policy divides this groups in two categories; the first category, constitute children of age
group 0 to 6 years old, which the policy highlights as highly affected by malnutrition
(p.21) and the second category children of age group 7-14 years, which the policy
states that they are still growing and deserved sufficient food for healthy growth (p.22).

Graph 1: Tanzania Population Pyramid


In Tanzania, stunting in children under five is estimated to be 42% (Alders, 2014:187),
severe stunting has affected about 11.5 % of children in this age group countrywide
and chronic malnutrition among children in this age group exceeding 50% in some
regions (TFNC, 2014:10), leading to Tanzania ranking among the top 10 countries with
the highest burden of childhood malnutrition (Sania, 2014). Respective to the localities
of the study, 43.5% per cent of children under five in the Mtwara region are stunted
(Kinshella, 2014: 291), and about 38.7 in Mara region (Leach, 2007:9). Stunting, which
is defined as insufficient height gain relative to a child’s age based on the WHO length-
or height-for-age standards media (De Onis, 2012) is widely used as an indicator
describing the prevalence of malnutrition or undernourishment in childhood (Victoria,

The quotation from Lake, I provided above depicts the verdict dispensed to stunted
children in Tanzania and elsewhere. There are numerous consequences resultant of
stunting. For instance, stunting may lead to adverse long-term health and development
outcomes, thus high mortality rates and increased morbidities since affected children
are prone to frequent illnesses (McDonald et al. 2013). Stunting is also linked to high
risks of losses in adult stature (Dewey & Begum, 2011). It also has negative effects in
the reproductive health of affected persons, for instance leading to low birth weight,
due to chronic nutritional stunting of mothers (Aitken & Reichenbach, 1994); to a
stunted expectant woman, it presents risks to the survival, health and development of
her offspring and can restrict uterine blood flow and growth of the uterus, placenta and
fetus (Dewey & Begum op cit: 8). Stunting also increases obesity and associated co-
morbidities (Popkin et al., 1996); since childhood nutritional stunting is associated with
impaired fat oxidation, a factor that predicted obesity in other at-risk populations
(Khairy et al. 2012 :26). Further, stunting is associated with poor cognitive function; it
decreases mental capacity and affects learning capability, leading to impaired
comprehension aptitude and inability to develop ability for logical processing of
information and generally poor mental processing capacity (Berkman et al. 2002). It is
in this sense that hunger is a considered a clear manifestation of failure in social
protection (UNICEF, 2012:19); but beyond attending to child starvation, equally

important is addressing the ‘hidden hunger’ which refers to children suffering from
micronutrient malnutrition, manifest in deficiencies of micronutrients such essentials as
vitamin A, iron or zinc from fruits, vegetables, fish or meat, without which children are in
increased danger of death, blindness, stunting and lower IQ (ibid.).

Stunting and its associated effects deprive children of their rights to a potentially full
life, and a disaster for the nation. The risk of having nearly half of the nation’s adult
population suffering from irreversible cognitive impairment, and confounded with other
long-term stunting associated consequences is enough to ignite a special vigor in
addressing the problem. Nutrition-wise, currently the effective national guiding
documents including the Food and Nutrition Policy for Tanzania (1992), which is
approaching 2½ decades since its development. This policy document needs to be
revised and catch-up with contemporary nutritional issues and challenges. For
instance, it still provides the ruling party CCM in page 49, with key responsibilities in
policy implementation in a multi-party environment with varying political allegiances at
the grassroots. Nutrition should be a national interest issue, requiring political and
neutrality and advocated beyond party partisanship. There is also the imminently
expiring ‘National Road Map Strategic Plan. To Accelerate Reduction of Maternal,
Newborn and Child Deaths in Tanzania 2008 – 2015’ which after seven years of
implementation needs result based evaluation, particularly its performance in the Child
Health – nutrition component. There is also the imminently expiring National Nutrition
Strategy: July 2011/2012 – June 2015/2016, which after five years of implementation,
needs also result based evaluation.

Respective to the policy and strategic initiatives we undertake, I particularly emphasize
‘result based evaluation’ because the common practice in Tanzania has been either to
shift into a different program after the term one program has expired or to go into the
second phase, with superficial attempts on building on the experiences of the first
phase. We need to stop and think whether the resources, efforts invested in these
strategies have yielded expected results, and unveil lessons learnt from program
design and other experiences. The central question is to what extent these two

strategies managed to sustainably arrest child malnutrition and macronutrients
deficiency in the country. Available statics presented above, and limited only to child
stunting gives a grim image, which cast a shadow of doubt over whether the strategies
being implemented are effective in the local context.

Again, the National Nutrition Strategy prioritizes supplementation and fortification, as
leading strategies towards redressing macronutrients deficiencies. The administrative
coverage rates for supplementation based on tally sheets are consistently reported to
be above 90% coverage although the accuracy of these rates is uncertain (Dhillon et
al. 2013). Regardless, however, Masanja et al. (2015) has established that while
neonatal vitamin A supplementation does not result in any immediate adverse events,
it had no beneficial effect on survival in infants in Tanzania, which essentially questions
the validity of prioritizing this strategy. Again, fortification of common foods with
micronutrients has been adopted as another leading strategy for decreasing
micronutrient deficiencies at a population level. However, Mildon et al (2015) highlights
that despite possible grassroots community acceptance of the consumption of fortified
foods, lack of realistic funding mechanisms especially in rural communities, limits the
sustainability of this approach. Further, Robinson & Nyagaya (2014) cautions that
getting food-processing companies to comply with the programme is a major
challenge; a challenge which will be exacerbated by the informal markets used by poor
people, who are most vulnerable to under nutrition. Significantly to note is also that at
the back drop of the National Nutrition Strategy is the Scale-up Nutrition Initiative
(SUN)26 which was launched in 2011 in Tanzania.27 The SUN movement advocates for
very specific nutrition interventions, namely, support for exclusive breastfeeding up to 6
months of age and continued breastfeeding, together with appropriate and nutritious
food, up to 2 years of age; Fortification of foods; Micronutrient supplementation; and
Treatment of severe malnutrition.28 The SUN movement however, has received

About the SUN concept see ‘Scaling Up Nutrition Road Map Task Team (2010), A Road Map for Scaling - Up
Nutrition (SUN) available at’


numerous criticisms, which should not be easily dismissed or ignored, if the national
interest it to redress malnutrition sustainably. A case in point is Schuftan & Greiner
(2013) who argues that “the SUN initiative does not explicitly acknowledge the
structural causes of all forms of malnutrition” (p.22). They highlight that SUN is
entrenched in “donor-driven emphasis on market-led “product” and high-tech solutions
to malnutrition, rather than on community-based solutions rooted in human rights and
equity” (p.22). Further, they point out that some of the SUN’s Lead Group such as The
Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) has been extensively lobbying
WHO/FAO for “global food standards to be weakened so as to allow marketing of a
whole new range of fortified products for infants and young children” (p.22).

The risk of unreliable or ectopic interventions i.e. interventions not wholly integrated
with comprehensive and sustainable alteration of household level nutrition behavioral
patterns, risk to have short term and sometimes reversible or even adverse effects.
Schuftan & Greiner (op cit.) for instance flags out that the SUN movement “does not
comment on the possible harmful impact of the marketing of member companies’ ultra-
processed foods on local food cultures and their contribution to obesity and non-
communicable diseases” (p.23). Martorell et al. (1994) for instance observes that
subjects who remain in the setting in which they became stunted experience little or no
catch-up in growth later in life. Like Rutter (1998), they caution that, improvements in
living conditions, as through food sustainable food supplementation and adoption
trigger catch-up growth but do so more effectively in the very young. The issue of food
fortification is also linked with the question of a sustained purchasing capacity.
Banerjee & Duflo, (2007:145) have warned that, “the average person living at under $
per day does not seem to put every available penny into buying more calories.” In the
same line of argument, Von Braun, (2008:5) point out that it is very expensive for poor
people to eat nutritious food as they so far “spend 50 to 70 percent of their income on
food and have little capacity to adapt as prices rise…29 to cope, households limit their
food consumption, shift to even less-balanced diets, and spend less on other goods

29In Tanzania, consumer prices faced by households on average rose by 90 per cent between 2007 and 2011/12,
which makes a massive difference to the time trend in real household consumption (Arndt et al. 2015:8)

and services that are essential for their health and welfare, such as clean water,
sanitation, education, and health care. It has now become much more expensive to eat
nutritious food.”

The National Nutrition Strategy also identifies universal dietary improvement as
another strategy towards combating child malnutrition and macronutrients deficiency. I
believe this option provide a more realistic and sustainable solution for the longer term.
In this regard, I agree with Schuftan & Greiner (op cit.: 23), who in the same vein
argues that “investment in family farming and small-scale food production will improve
food provision, social and environmental sustainability and safeguard livelihoods for the
majority.” A similar position has been advanced by EuropAfrica (2013: i) report which
has vehemently stated that “family farming is the basis for modern food provision in
Africa, today and tomorrow. Its multifunctionality and sustainable productive potential is
supported by extensive research evidence. Family farming and small-scale food
production generates food and well-being for the majority of the population and the
wealth of the region, and conserves its natural resources. It can ensure employment for
young people within their territories, thus promoting social peace and attenuating
migration. Innovative family farming, backed by appropriate research, supportive
investments and adequate protection, can out-perform industrial commodity
production. It provides the basis for the food sovereignty of communities, countries and
sub-regions of Africa.” It is in this sense that Pauw & Thurlow (2011:801) argues that,
‘agricultural growth is more pro-poor than nonagricultural growth’ and has a positive
implication on household level caloric availability.

Graph 2: Basic Needs Poverty Incidence Curves

In Tanzania, there are no consistent public programs that target sustainable realisation
of children’s rights to adequate diet, decent clothing and decent shelter. While I did not
come across any study highlighting the state of child clothing in Tanzania, the shelter
situation has been flagged to be deplorable for majority of children, as four out five
children (78%) are noted to suffer from severe shelter deprivation (Mutembei,
2013:19). Under these momentous challenges, issues such as right to play and leisure
fade in the background. As the majority of the Tanzania population live in poverty with
about 57% living below poverty line (de Waroux, 2013) consideration of public support
is a daunting task and potentially an extremely expensive exercise. This phenomenon
suggests that it is almost inconceivable that children will be comprehensively protected
from vulnerability associated with structural poverty, without addressing the problem of
household poverty. Concerted efforts towards poverty reduction, addressing the official
household food poverty line, and combating of household income poverty should
therefore be seen as having a direct bearing on issues of child social protection and
child protection. Social Security Schemes and Systems

The concept ‘social security’ refers to “collectively defined rights, duties, conditions and
potential sanctions which aim to generate positive social outcomes by protecting
individual actors against economic deficits” (Vrooman, 2009: 126), through “collectively
funded arrangements” (ibid: 114). In its broadest sense, social security should be
understood to mean “the support provided to the individual by the society to enable
him/her to attain a reasonable standard of living and to protect the same standards
from falling due to the occurrence of any contingency 30 (Tungaraza, 1999:2). Based on
pre-identified risks and pre-stipulated modality of access to benefits, conventional
social security entitlement is based on the contributions made by the principal member.
In this regard, without payment of contributions there is no entitlement to benefit
(Vrooman, op cit. 114). The element of member contribution is also manifest in
traditional social security, where “intrahousehold and interhousehold transfers between
related or proximate individuals constitute a basic form of social security” (Burgess &
Stern 1991:59). While some have attributed this tendency to altruism (ibid.), I agree
with Coate & Ravallion (1993:2) who flag the anchor of this practice to be reciprocity,
with recipients at one time often becoming donors in other instances. Benefits
entitlement based on principal members contribution, is therefore one of the core
distinctions, differentiating social security from social policy and the social work
practice. Though at times demarcations are blurred and values behind practices
traverse, in principle, enjoyment of social policies is grounded on universal citizenship
rights, where basic human needs are expected to be met through institutionalization of
social rights particularly in the welfare state (Midgley, 1994:157), while ideally; human
rights consideration takes precedence in social work practice (Ife, 2012).

Examples of such contingencies are sickness, maternity, old age, invalidity, death, unemployment,
work or occupational related injury and incapacitation, or disease, etc.

Conventional social security schemes therefore pool members’ contributions to create
a social resource to buffer contingency impact, in an endeavour to prevent members
from living lives that fall below the expected societal standard. Adversity in a household
most definitely affects children and is likely to lead to child vulnerability. When
members of the society are protected through social security systems, the children of
the society are also protected; however, if they are not protected, then in case of a
contingency befalling the bread-winner of the family, dependents, especially children,
can become vulnerable and are likely to be the most affected victims of the calamity.
Filho (2012) and Guarcello et al., (2003) for instance shows that household poverty
and occurrence of shocks at the household level results in increased child labor,
plummeting of school attendance and increased school dropouts, as children’s labor is
used as risk coping strategy and/or as a cushion against shocks.

Conventional social security programmes in Tanzania provide coverage to only a small
fraction of the population—primarily the regularly employed in the formal sector; while
traditional social security, which the majority of Tanzanians has relied upon for
centuries is weakening, leaving majority of the people without coverage (Tungaraza,
2004). In consequence, most of the children are exposed to risks when contingencies
befall the adult members of the society they depend on. The National Social Security
Policy of 2003 highlights that in Tanzania, “93 percent of the capable workforce is
engaged in the informal sector in both rural and urban areas; out of that 80 per cent is
in engaged in the agrarian economy” (NSSP, 2003:5) and acknowledges that only 5.4
percent of the capable workforce is covered by social security schemes. Furthermore,
this policy also recognise that there has been “steady disintegration of the kinship or
family-based social support systems on which the majority of Tanzanians have
depended for protection against contingencies” (NSSP, 2003:10). Daniel et al (2010)
confirms that only 6.5 per cent of the Tanzanian workforce is covered in formal social
security, and 98 per cent of the country’s business in the informal sector. Further,
statistics from the Social Security Regulation Authority (SSRA) indicates that to date,

although there has been steady increase in the number of members, still there is but
marginal increase in terms of total coverage for mandatory membership.

Graph 3: The trend in total membership of social security in Tanzania mainland

Source: SSRA (2015)

Although some formal social security schemes such as the National Social Security
Fund (NSSF) have introduced eligibility avenues for the informal sector, unfortunately,
participation is still on individual discretionary basis. There is still low responsiveness
from the targeted population to packages which have opened the avenue for non-
formal employees to join conventional social security systems. “Illiteracy, cultural
intimidation by modern institutions and problems of asymmetrical information” have
been noted to “restrict access by the poor even when a formal insurance market does
exist” (Coate & Ravallion, 1993: 1-2). Further, because individuals outside the formal
sector, membership in a social security scheme is discretionary, people tend to
address the most immediate problem, than saving for future risks; and therefore
pressing needs always likely to take precedence over social security concerns. As
such, in a low-income situation, people are unlikely to deem it prudent to invest for

future contingencies, amidst pressing financial distress. Liu (2004) for instance shows
that beyond awareness and ability to pay, there are other reasons affecting people’s
willingness to participate in voluntary risk sharing schemes, most significantly
perceived level of risk; where people who deem themselves prone to utilising
membership benefits are more likely to enroll than those who do not perceive an
imminent need to utilise those services. While, this study cannot claim to have gauged
people’s willingness to participate in compulsory or discretionary risk sharing schemes,
it is seems that ‘the reality of a perceived risk,’ a range of ‘risk mitigation options’
available to individuals and ‘the perceived effectiveness’ of the risk sharing scheme to
mitigate the impact of the risk are important determinants for people’s participation.
The central thesis for participation is therefore incentive and rationale for membership.
Foster (2000) shows extensive weakening of traditional social safety nets, which
implies that without conventional social security systems stepping in, entire household
including children, risk suffering, should their parents or guardians encounter
contingencies such as permanent incapacitation or injuries, premature deaths, long-
term illnesses, loss of income etc. Social Work Practice

Social Work Practice is primarily concerned with the enhancement of the quality of life
particularly for vulnerable members of the society, and facilitation of fulfilment of full
potential of societal members. Specifically, the purpose of social work practice is ‘to
assist individuals and groups to identify and resolve or minimize problems arising out of
disequilibrium between themselves and their environment; to identify potential areas of
disequilibrium between individuals or groups and the environment in order to prevent
the occurrence of disequilibrium; and in addition to these curative and preventive aims,
to seek out, identify, and strengthen the maximum potential in individuals, groups, and
communities’ (Bartlett, 2003:268). In this regard, on one hand, the role of social work
practice is to cushion vulnerability impact experienced by members of society; and on

the other it seeks to ensure the protection and enforcement of the rights of especially
vulnerable and marginalised members of the

society thereby seeking the development and optimisation of the full potential of
everyone, group and community in society by resolving issues that constrain the
realisation of that potential.

In Tanzania, social work practice is coordinated through the Social Welfare Division
(SWD), which is anchored in the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MoHSW). At
the helm of the division is the Commissioner of Social Welfare (CSW) who reports to
the Permanent Secretary, and below the Commissioner for Social Welfare, there are
three sections namely, Family, Child Welfare Services and Early Childhood
Development; Juvenile Justice Services and People with disability and elderly persons.
(See MoHSW organizational structure below).

Illustration IV: The Organizational Structure of the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare


However, from field observation, it was clear that in service delivery at regional levels,
the national division apex is assisted by Regional Social Welfare Officers (RSWOs)
and in district levels by District Social Welfare Officers (See diagrammatic description
below). The social work professionals who work in these social welfare offices are
generally known as social welfare officers (SWOs). It should be noted that, as per the
Law of Child Act, No. 21 of 2009, the title social welfare officer is used exclusively for
social welfare officers in the service of the government; which differentiate social
welfare officers from other professional social workers, not specifically operating as
social welfare officer.

Article 18 of UNICEF’s Convention on the Rights of the Child provides that, “parents
or, as the case may be, legal guardians, have the primary responsibility for the
upbringing and development of the child.” Article 19 states that “for the purpose of
guaranteeing and promoting the rights set forth in the present Convention, States
Parties shall render appropriate assistance to parents and legal guardians in the
performance of their child-rearing responsibilities and shall ensure the development of
institutions, facilities and services for the care of children.” Respectively, as far as CP
and CSP is concerned, the targeted primary beneficiaries of social work practice are all
children in the country whose natural rights are being compromised, and the secondary
target are households supporting children. In consideration of the purpose of social
work, described above, and provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, I
can surmise that, as far as CP and CSP is concerned, where the family as a first line
CP and CSP fails, and existing social policies and/or social security systems fails, and
as a result some children filters in to vulnerability, the Social Welfare Division’s
responsibility is intervention to ensure that all children of the land enjoy their natural
rights. This means that, in situations where there are children who filters through, and
do not enjoy their basic rights, social work practice is supposed to be a catchment
cushion tasked to intervene and oversee effective corrective measures. Respectively,
therefore, the division is “tasked with protecting OVC and ensuring their access to
basic services. It is responsible for policy guidance in social welfare, with a focus on

ensuring adequate and quality care and timely social welfare services to vulnerable
groups” (USAID, n.d: 1).

Specific SWD’s key roles, particularly operational guidelines for social welfare officers,
are stipulated throughout the Law of the Child Act, no. 21, 2009. Concisely described
however, they include overseeing, coordinating and collaborating will all institutions,
stakeholders and partners in effectuating child welfare for both collective and individual
cases; monitoring and evaluation of the enjoyment of children’s natural rights as
stipulated by social policies and the laws of the country; and timely and effective
responsiveness in cases of child vulnerability.

Interviews with social welfare officers revealed that social work practice in general, and
the social welfare division in particular use and work with the legal instruments in
facilitating, promoting and protecting children’s right in the country. First and foremost,
they use legislations which provides for promotion, protection and maintenance of child
protection and child social protection. The lead legislation for child welfare in Tanzania
is the Law of the Child Act No. 21 of 2009. This law repeals and consolidates other
child related laws such as: The Affiliation Ordinance; The Children and Young Persons
Act of 1937; The Day Care Centres Act; The Children’s Home Act 4-1968; and The
Adoption of Children Act, Chapter 335. Social work practice generally and Social
welfare officers in particular, also use provisions found in other legislations for
guidance on matters related to children welfare especially where they specifically
provide for child social protection or child protection. Examples cited by interviewed
social welfare officers include for instance the Sexual Offences (Special Provisions) Act
No. 4 of 1998 which, among other things, protects children from sexual exploitation; the
National Education Act No. 25 of 1978 which provides for compulsory basic education
for children; the Penal Code which, among other things, protects children from being
abused and protects the right of the unborn children to live; the Employment and
Labour Relations (CAP 366) Act No. 8 of 2006 Sec (5) explicitly prohibit child labour,

According to social welfare officers, legal dilemmas can sometimes pose major
institutional challenges in effectuation of child protection and child social protection
laws. One such dilemma cited is the issue of child marriage and the law.

“...because the constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania does not
provide the eligible age for marriage, there are legal gaps and
inconsistencies which when exploited expose children, particularly female
children to risks child marriage” (DSWO 1)

The Law of the Child Act No. 21 of 2009, sec 4(1) explicate that a person below the
age of eighteen (18) years is a child. Ideally, the Law of Marriage Act No.5 of 1971
(CAP 29 R.E. 2002], among other things, should protect children from being married.
However, in sec. 13 (1) it sets the minimum age of marriage for girls to be fifteen years;
and under section 13(2), it provides that a court may give permission for a girl as young
as 14 to get married. There is therefore a discrepancy between the Law of the Child
Act and the Law of Marriage Act, as both these sections contravenes the legal
definition of a child. It is such legal disparities that can be exploited at the detriment of
a child victim. Another example is that, there are religious laws and customary laws
which are endorsed to run parallel to statutory laws. The case in point is the Local
Customary Law (Declaration) Order, GN 27931 of 1963 which allows ethnic group of
Tanzania to follow and make decisions based on its customs and traditions.
Respective to child marriages, it should be understood that there are still many ethnic
groups and communities in Tanzania, where going through the cultural rite of passage,
regardless of the actual age, means one has transited from childhood to adulthood and
therefore eligible for marriage Mbeba et al (2012). Some traditions, such as the
‘nyumba ntobhu, practiced among some ethnic groups of Mara region allows for older
women to ‘marry,’ often ‘unsuspecting’ young girls and to determine men who
impregnates these girls on their behalf (Mhando, 2011; Mhando, 2005; Masaiganah,
2002; 83). Irrespective of the social security implications and other social cultural
significances of such a practice, it contravenes the Marriage Act, 1971, sec 9 (1) which

Local Customary Law (Declaration) Order, Government Notice (GN) 279/1963, Schedule 1, Laws of Persons, in
Judicature and Application of Laws Act, TANZ. LAWS SUB. LEGIS. [CAP 358 R.E. 2002], rule 2

directs that marriage should be a voluntary union of a man and woman; and they
facilitate child marriages and possible child sexual exploitation. Another case in point is
that, under Islamic law, girls can be married while as young as nine (9) years old since
every Moslem who has attained puberty may enter into a marriage contract; and under
the Shiah Ithna’ Asheri school, girls are presumed to reach puberty at age nine.
Marriages, however, can take place even younger, because sec (5) (2), empowers
guardians to contract marriage on behalf of parties who have not reached puberty. 32
(Ezer et al., 2006).

Secondly, to foster child protection and child social protection issues, the social welfare
officers also use social security systems available, social policies and their related
programmes. They play a facilitation role by identifying child-related provisions and
entitlements and ensure that they oversee, link and assist children’s access to these
rights. Thirdly, they play a promotional, facilitative and coordinative role on behalf of
afflicted children to engender access to the available child protection and child social
protection rights and services. For example, they liaise with the facilities and
institutions in place, such as the justice and judicial system, for example the Police
Department to make arrests where necessary, the courts to dispense the necessary
justice and many other facilities and institutions. In the same role, the Social Welfare
Division also has a responsibility of overseeing, collaborating, coordinating, guiding,
supporting and generally ensuring that voluntary organisations and other initiatives
which focus on child welfare, are aligned with national priorities, guidelines, and
legislations and that they supplement or compliment national initiatives, and ensure
that the interventions implemented have no adverse effects on the recipients in both
the short-term and the long-term.

Statements of Islamic Law, Government Notice (GN) 222/1967 in Islamic Law (Restatement) Act, 1964, TANZ.
LAWS SUB. LEGIS. [CAP 375 R.E. 2002], §§ 5(1), 6 Exception, TANZ. LAWS [CAP 375 R.E. 2002]

Illustration V: Tanzania public social work services delivery structure


Permanent Secretary


Social Welfare Division

Family, Child Welfare Services and Juvenile Justice Services People with Disability and
Early Childhood Development Elderly Persons

Regional Social Welfare Officers

District Social Welfare Officers

Source: Author
Social Welfare Assistants

4.5 Child Welfare in Tanzania: Institutional Issues and Practice

Social work has developed out of a community recognition of the need to
provide services to meet basic needs, services which require the intervention
of practitioners trained to understand the services, themselves, the individuals,
and the means for bringing all together. Social work is not practiced in a

vacuum or at the choice of its practitioners alone. Thus, there is a social
responsibility inherent in the practitioner’s role for the way in which services are
rendered (Bartlett, 2003:268).

The notion that social work is not practiced in vacuum, underline the centrality of the
concept ‘sanction’ in social work practice. Sanction conjures up the connotations of
professionalism, legitimacy, authority, permission, countenance, approbation, or
support in delivery of social services (Bartlett, 2003:268). “The authority and power of
the practitioner and what he represents to the clients and group members derive from
one or a combination of the following sources,” government agencies, organized
profession and/or voluntary incorporated agencies (ibid.). However, considering the
increasingly significance of international agreements in local contexts, I also flag supra-
governmental agencies, as a fundamental source, from which social work practice
draw its authority and legitimacy. Respectively, to identify key child protection and child
social protection issues dominant in the localities of the study and conduct an
institutional capability analysis, these four institutional pillars of child welfare were
considered i.e. Supra-governmental Agencies, Governmental Agencies and
Departments, Voluntary Agencies & Organised Profession.

4.5.1 Supra-Governmental Agencies

In the contemporary world economic development, social policy activities traditionally
analyzed and undertaken within one country take on supra-national and transitional
character (Deacon et al., 1997:1). Correspondingly, issues of child protection and child
social protection have global dimensions and consensus. From an institutional stand
point, therefore it is significant to identify the supra-national agencies and activities
through which the universal policy drives and changes relating to CP and CSP are
advocated for and locally effected. For instance, “the 1989 United Nations Convention
on the Rights of the Child has established a near-global consensus that all children
have a right to protection, to participation and to basic material provision” (Muncie,
2005:45). Respectively, the Government of Tanzania has consented to respective

international standards and obligations by ratifying these child welfares related
international conventions such as the UNCRC, and ACRWC. Building on the
ratification of the UNCRC, Tanzania acceded to the Optional Protocol on the sale of
children, child prostitution and child pornography in April 2003, and acceded to the
Optional Protocol for the Convention on the involvement of children in armed conflict
without reservation in November 2004. Being a signatory makes these international
conventions nationally binding, in which context it is possible to generalise children’s
right, and also opens avenues for “supranational adjudication because the global and
regional human rights regimes protects common legal norms that, on the whole, are
grounded upon identical or substantially similar treaty texts” (Helfer &Slaughter,
1997:279). Further, “it is a basic principle of international law that a State party to an
international treaty must ensure that its own domestic law and practice are consistent
with what is required by the treaty.”33 This means international treaties “becomes
domestically applicable only after implementation by national legislations” (Maurer,
2013: 8-9). Based on the foregoing, the Law of the Child Act of 2009 gave effect to
these international standards by integrating and synchronizing their key requirements
in domestic legislation and fine-tuning as well as harmonising other child welfare
related local legislations accordingly.

4.5.2 Governmental Agencies and Departments

Two relevant entities were studied, namely, the Police Department in the Ministry for
Home Affairs and the Social Welfare Division in the Ministry of Health and Social
Welfare. The Police Department – Ministry of Home Affairs

Traditionally, the Police Department has focused mainly on child protection issues;
however, with the establishment of the ‘Gender and Children's Desks’ (GCD) in police


stations (Makoye, 2013; McCleary-Sills, 2013: vii; Pounds & Hewison 2012: 189), they
also attend many child social protection issues.34

“As far as CP and CSP issue are concerned, the major functions of the
police stations, and in particular, the ‘gender and children’s desk’ is to
provide a secure environment for children who are victims of child abuse, or
adults with information regarding child abuse to feel comfortable and secure
to report cases of child violence and abuse. As a specialist unit, staffed by
trained police officers, the Gender and Children’s desk receive and record
allegations of child abuse, investigate and in child protection issues
preparing cases for prosecution and in child social protection issue, attempt
reconciliation; should reconciliation at the police stations fail or should either
of the parties consistently fail to honour the terms of reconciliation agreed,
then the matter is referred to the social welfare department for due
processes. The specialised staffs also provide counselling to victims, if
circumstances are deemed to require so.” (KI, Gender and Children’s Desk,
pers comm. Friday, 10th January 2014, Dar es Salaam).

The analysis of official police records and the statistics of reported child abuse cases
over a six-year period shows that three child protection issues are consistently reported
to the Police Department—Rape, Sodomy and Causing Bodily Harm. These records
have been depicted in tables I, II and III below:


Table III: Crimes Against Children: Rape

Year 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009

Sex M F M F M F M F M F M F

D’Salaam 0 429 0 471 0 441 0 320 0 789 0 846

Mtwara 0 102 0 68 0 135 0 178 0 162 0 121

Mara 0 130 0 115 0 62 0 209 0 184 0 181

Total 0 661 0 654 0 638 0 707 0 1135 0 1148

Source: MoHA: Police Department

Table IV: Crimes Against Children: Sodomy

YEAR 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009

SEX M F Total M F Total M F Total M F Total M F Total M F Total

S 101 3 104 100 5 105 158 3 161 102 5 107 142 5 147 201 15 216

E t
G w
14 2 16 16 3 19 9 1 10 9 3 12 14 1 15 14 3 17
I a
O r
N a
3 0 3 10 1 11 4 2 6 10 1 11 9 3 12 8 2 10

118 5 123 126 9 135 171 6 177 121 9 130 165 9 174 223 20 243

Source: MoHA: Police Department

Table V: Crimes Against Children: Causing Bodily Harm

YEAR 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009

Tota Tota
SEX M F Total M F M F M F Total M F Total M F Total
l l


3 2 5 2 2 4 1 2 3 3 4 7 2 2 4 4 3 7
R a
E m
N 1 2 4 1 1 2 0 2 2 2 1 3 1 1 2 1 3 4

1 2 3 1 0 1 1 1 2 1 1 2 1 0 1 2 1 3

TOTAL 5 6 11 4 3 7 2 5 7 6 6 12 4 3 7 7 7 14

Source: MoHA: Police Department

The three tables provided above on reported crimes against children in the three
regions reveal several institutional and policy issues. As reflected in Table I and II
sexual abuse seem to be the most predominantly reported crime against both male
and female children. The study was interested however to explore whether these were
the leading child abuse offences in everyday life experiences at the grassroots. FGDs
participants were therefore asked to mention the most atrocious child abuse they know
happens to children in their communities. Respondents unanimously flagged sexual

abuse as the most serious child offence. However, when they were asked to mention
other child abuse offences that frequently happen in their localities they mentioned that
child battering is still rampant. Again, participants in FGDs in Mara acknowledged that
FGM on female children is still widely practiced. In most urban settings, it was flagged
that most step mothers frequently denied their step children food, beat them, and in
various manners mistreated them. The respondents’ comments suggest that while
sexual abuse is considered the most socially reprehensive offense against children; it
is not necessarily the most dominant of child abuse offenses. In this regard, in a
situation where universal children rights are not aligned with context specific social-
cultural practices, there is always a risk the ‘socially’ tolerable or accepted ‘abuses’ will
remain hidden. For instance, while respondents in Mara region concede FGM to
children is still rampant, there is not a single case reported to the police. Respondents
in Mara regions gave two major reasons why FGM is not reported. One, it is because it
is increasingly practiced in secrecy, and difficulty to get evidence about. There other
reason is that FGM is still culturally accepted and valued by most people.

“...Even if you know that certain girls have been circumcised, how do you
report and prove that this girl or that girl has been circumcised? It is not
easy, if the girls themselves do not come forward and volunteer to report”
(Female FGD participant-Bunda).

“Most men in our culture still prefer marrying circumcised women, and
women still find pride, a sense of completeness, and gain respect if they
have been circumcised...” (Male FGD participant-Rorya).

“ is not the circumcision part only which is important, it is also the entire
process of making a woman out of a girl and the social acceptability and
status a woman gets afterwards which is most appealing and important to
women” (DSWO- 8).

It is clear therefore that there is still something amiss in official statistics respective to
reported crimes against children, which underscore the significance of localising child
abuse awareness campaigns. It is clear chat changing peoples’ perceptions about
‘what’ constitute child abuse, and empowering communities and victims to report these

abuses is an important step towards realising universal child social protection and child

Again, as reflected in Table I, only girls are reported as raped. This is so because the
law does not recognise the probability of an adult woman raping a male child.
According to SOSPA Act No. 4 of 1998, a man engaging in sexual intercourse with a
female person aged below 18, who is not married to and living with him, as provided for
by the Law of Marriage Act, No. 5 of 1971, commits rape, regardless of whether that
act is consensual. However, there is no provision to address incidences involving adult
females engaging in sexual intercourse with boys below 18 years of age and
classifying that as rape.

“Grown up women experimenting their sexual fantasies and quenching
their sexual desires with young boys is very much talked about
everywhere. It is not something new at all. Where do you think the notion
Serengeti boys come from? Because boys do not get pregnant, it is not
easy to see that they are sexually abused by older women. It is happening,
you hear about it, but who are these women? Where are the victims?
When does this happen? This is a practice done in secrecy, so how do you
control it or how do you make these women accountable?” (DSWO 6)

“I must acknowledge that women also these days cannot be trusted; they
are not custodian of values anymore. Especially in urban areas, they sleep
around with adolescent boys; sometimes they entice young boys with
money to have them perform unthinkable things to them. Honestly, the
society is no longer safe for children, be it girls or boys” (CDO 1).

In this regard, the perception that only girls can be raped is contrary to the expressed
concern by respondents who flagged out that older women increasingly lure and
engage young boys in sexual intercourse; yet, there is no concrete legal grounds for
admonishing such practices. It is puzzling, that while adult men engaging in sex with
female children are sanctioned as rape, the law is silent on adult women engaging in
sex with male children, on an erroneous assumption that boys below 18 years old
cannot engage in sex. It should be noted that for boys, genitalia begin to develop

between the ages 9 1/2 years and 13 1/2 and have reached maturity at ages varying
between 13 and 17 (Marshall & Tanner, 1970), while for instance, in Mtwara it was
found that, an average age of puberty for boys is between 13 and 15 years (Halley,
2012:300). Further, adolescent boys are losing traditional mechanisms of pubertal
guidance and receive inadequate guidance on their burgeoning sexuality; therefore,
new meanings of manhood are arising from globalization (Sommer et al., 2014). In this
context, it is clear that male children are at high risk of sexual experimentation and
prone to sexual exploitation.

Another concern to be highlighted from these statistics is that in a period of six years,
crimes over children show no indication of subsiding, rather they keep on increasing. A
case in point is statistics for rape, which for instance almost doubled in 2008 and 2009
from 2004 to 2007. This might suggest two things: either the phenomenon of rape on
children is increasing or that awareness rising on such incidents has helped to increase
the number of such cases reported to the authorities. Again, Dar es Salaam is noted as
having the most of reported cases compared to Mara and Mtwara regions.
Quantitatively, this might imply that most of the crimes against children are committed
in Dar es Salaam. However, qualitatively it might also imply that Dar es Salaam
residents are more progressive in protecting children’s rights than the other two
regions. It is important to determine reasons for these variations so as to guide the
strategic cause of action that needs to be taken.

Statistics provided in the three tables are alarming, not in the least because of their
shear enormity, but because there was a wide consensus among all groups of
respondents that the majority of child abuse cases and issues of children’s rights
contravention go largely unreported for various reasons, including the culture of silence
permeating families; resolution of such cases within families or families simply turn a
blind eye to them. For instance, there is a recurring situation of especially step-mothers
abusing their husbands’ children. Although many children suffer immense bodily and
emotional harm because of such abuses, families and communities often turn a blind
eye to them. Again, many issues of sexual abuse go unreported and many unmarried

and underage girls are impregnated, and most of these matters are resolved at the
family level.

As afore explained the study did not track reported crimes against children, and
therefore it was not immediately possible to determine their respective outcomes.
However, FGDs and interviews conducted with Social Welfare Departments and other
stakeholders strongly indicate that most of the reported police cases are eventually
dropped. Given reasons for the apparent low convictions rate include lack of sufficient
evidence as well as lack of cooperation from the guardians or parents of victims.’ For
instance, it was flagged out that often families of abused children settle issues out of
court with accused culprits, which make it difficult for the law to take its course. Another
reason mentioned was limited follow up by people who reported the case, where it was
highlighted that most people are unaware of the legal procedures, and the complexities
of the process disheartens them and make them feel victims of the law. Another
challenge is that grassroots institutions such as village governments and the
established MVCCs have no technical, institutional capacity and sufficient skills to
intervene effectively in these matters. In fact, they are completely delinked from the
newly established Gender and Children’s Desk in the police stations and from Social
Welfare Department which would have provided them with requisite support.
Corruption was also flagged as factor, where unscrupulous law enforcing officers find
ways to help perpetrators elude punishment from the law. Elsewhere it has been
observed that community passivity, legal system weaknesses, legal framework
inadequacy, and key players' vulnerabilities are major reasons associated with child
abuse and limited accountability for committed crimes (Kisanga et al. 2010). The key
issue highlighted however, is what from an institutional perspective is termed
decoupling, whereas while the law adequately provides for children’s right and the
protection of children, effective upholding of the law to actually protect children on the
ground remains a problem. Hafner-Burton et al. (2008:117) had described decoupling
as occurring when a nation ratifies international human rights treaties but eschew or fail
to effectively implement these treaties in practice; a situation they describe as
decoupling between professed commitments to human rights ideals and actual

domestic human right practices (ibid:121). According to Boyle & Meyer (1998:218)
decoupling between law and social reality is a possible outcome of a rule system
dependent on universal cultural practices. Meyer & Jepperson, (2000:112) further
expound this observation by highlighting that, decoupling can be extreme because
attempts “to enact high policies of the most elaborate and standardized forms” in
developing countries, are ‘constrained by limited and highly variable resources;’ as a
result “Nation-state constitutional and policy claims are notoriously decoupled from
local practices.”

Of concern is also the fact that only three types of crimes are reported to the
authorities, namely rape, sodomy and causing bodily harm. As such, many other cases
which are also in the interest of Child Protection are not reported. These include child
female genital mutilation (FGM), child abduction, child labour, and child desertion.
Child desertion, for instance, is recognised as the second largest cause of child
vulnerability in Mara region after orphan-hood. For example, of the 8,807 cases of
vulnerable children identified in Serengeti district in 2007, 4,995 were from orphan-
hood and 2,295 from desertion. On the other hand, it was not possible for the study to
capture data of female child FGM despite its being still widely practiced in the region.
The absence of such data in police records does not speak of the absence of such
crimes, but that, for various reasons these crimes remain hidden. Tortu et al (2002:8)
describe ‘hidden or hard to reach’ groups as those ‘engaged in illegal or stigmatized’
behaviour.’ The fact that in Tanzania, conducting FGM or FGC to children is outlawed,
and there are numerous advocacy initiatives against it, makes the practice ‘hidden.’
Since perpetrators collude with the first line institutions of child welfare i.e. the family,
and in particular, parents and guardians, the incidences are not reported to the police.
It estimated that about 18 percent of women in Tanzania circumcised and that the
practice occurs in about 20 of the 130 country’s ethnic groups (Boyle, et al. 2001:530).
Since this practice is a ‘rite of passage’ from childhood to adulthood, the assumption is
that it happens when the girls are legally, age-wise children, while traditional-wise,
mature and ready to become women. Based on the nature of the practice and the fact
that it is the family which condones this practice, amidst this pressure on clamping

down the practice and awareness campaigns, it is important to conduct sociological
and social-anthropological studies to decipher its contemporary trends and patterns as
well as how it is camouflaged in the communities to be able to creatively and effectively
address it.

According to MVCCs other child welfare issues predominant in their localities include:
a) The Challenge of Paternity Confirmation

It emerged that one of the major contemporary challenge that constrain child social
protection rights is the proliferating crisis of girls bearing children ‘without’ fathers. In
both Mtwara and Mara it was pointed out that there are increasing cases of ‘children
without fathers’ both in urban and rural areas because either the woman fails to
convincingly name who the father is, or the alleged father refuse/deny responsibility
over the pregnancy.

“These days it has become fashionable. You find many children, and their fathers
are not known. In the old days, it was normal to ask, who is the father, and you get
a straight forward answer; these days, that has become an embarrassing question,
and you will just get a vague answer, but the bottom line is no one knows,
sometimes even the mother of the child does not know….so children are given
names of their maternal grandparents, and they a burden of those grandparents,
because these girls are not even capable of taking care of their off-springs, they
just carry pregnancies, deliver and live the children with grandparents” (Female
FGD participant - Musoma Rural)

“…what we are saying, is not that in the old days, children were not born out of
wedlock…no, far from it, even some of us here were born out of wedlock. The
difference is that in the old days, it would hardly be possible for a girl to have a
child out of wedlock and then the father of the child is not known. No…, that would
not happen. It would be the shame of the family, and it would not be permitted. If
the girl refuses to mention who the responsible man is, and do so convincingly,
they will be out casted from the family, with their pregnancy, no one will wait for
you to bear the child of an unknown man. So, girls, aware of the consequences,
they behaved and made sure, their tells of relationships are strongly collaborated”
(Male FGD participant-Musoma Rural).

Often, these are instances where pregnancies are a result of sexual relationship
carried out in secrecy, and the alleged putative father denies the responsibility
(Mniwasa, 2003). “Traditionally, contested paternity occurred in cases of accidental
pregnancy in casual or unstable relationships rather than in married or cohabitation
family forms” (Turney, 2011:1111). Similarly, in the localities of the study, it was
explained that this problem was caused by social constraints35 and irresponsible
sexual behaviours.36 Social cultural transformations were fingered to have dramatically
altered morals, values and norms of the people such that sexual relationships have
become very simplified and unsanctioned. In the same vein, Arnett (2002:776)
discussing the woes of globalisation argued that the “rates of premarital sex and
pregnancy are rising as traditional systems of sexual control through initiation rites,
chaperones, and folklore lose their relevance in the eyes of the young. This problem is
sometimes blamed on the introduction of Western media, with their relentless sexual
stimulation.” A study carried out in Mtwara, for instance found out that video shows on
pornography and sexual relationships are among contributing factors leading youth to
engage in risky sexual behaviors in Tanzania. This study further noted that most video
show are normally shown in local night clubs thus encouraging conducive environment
for sexual activities for various groups including putting the girls into a danger of rape
(Mbeba et al., 2012:4). It was also alleged that parents these days have failed to
discipline children and to take a hard line on misbehaviour.

“...another thing is that, parents these days, I do not know what has happened
to them. They have become very soft on children, and as result children do as
they please, without being disciplined. Imagine you’re a man in the house and

Such social constraints to accepting paternity claims were mentioned to be, for example, the man is
married or has other relationships; the responsible person is still a child, in school or a dependant on
family; feeling ashamed to have impregnated someone outside marriage; fear of the aftermath of admitting
the crime when the girl is under eighteen or she is a student
This was explained to happen when two people engage in a sexual relationship but have no commitment
to each other or do not have prospects of having a future of any kind together and do not use any form
of protection such as condoms to prevent potential pregnancy or by ill-fate the protection they use does
not manage to prevent conception. The woman, for instance, those inclined to be commercial sex
workers by any degree might not know for sure who the father of the child is. In case the prospective
mother knows who, the responsible person is, under those circumstances the man is likely to instantly
refuse responsibility.

your daughter gets pregnant, stays in your house, deliver a child, and you start
taking care of the grandchild, paying hospitals, feeding the baby, and
everything, and worse, she tells you some nonsensical story about not knowing
the man, or the man has refused. I can’t imagine of a worst disrespect for a
father. You become a laughing stock to your colleagues. In the old days, the
girl would never dare do that...never, which door will she enter, which house
will receive her?” (Male FGD Participant-Musoma Rural)

This situation has made illicit sex to proliferate in both urban and rural areas. Males
and females engage in casual or commercial sex that do not have any social bonds,
often if such encounters result into pregnancy and the woman fails to undergo an
abortion, the child has high probability of becoming fatherless. In the same vein, for
instance Dilger (2003) study in Mara highlights that desire for money entice women,
regardless of whether they were married or unmarried, to having, have fast-changing
sexual relationships ; while McCleary-Sills et al (2013:103a) found that in contemporary
Mtwara, “although traditional social norms dictate that girls refrain from having sex until
they are adults, preferably until they are married”, girls entertained and sought male
partners to meet their material needs, desires and provide for their families, with
similarly, Halley (2012:303) finding that economic factors more than sexual desire
shape girls’ sexual relationships in Mtwara. This situation underscores the significance
of paternity confirmation in affiliation cases. This is so because section 12 of the Births
and Deaths Registration Ordinance, Chapter 108 of the Laws of Tanzania explicates
that “No person shall be bound as father to register the birth of a child born out of
wedlock and no person shall be entered in the register of as the father of such child
except at his own request and upon his acknowledging himself.” Again, the Law of the
Child Act, 2009, sections 35 and 36 explicates admissible procedures and evidence of
parentage, which clearly shows that either the man accepts responsibility, or he is
made to accept the responsibility through unequivocal paternity confirmation. In the
face of contested paternity, therefore DNA testing is the final option. However, modern
paternity testing technologies, such as the traditional DNA testing (Egeland et al.,
2000:47) or the more recent prenatal paternity test using array-based single-nucleotide
polymorphism measurements of cell-free DNA isolated from maternal plasma (Ryan et
al. 2012), are far from being realistic for rural areas and low-income parties in urban

areas. There is therefore a pressing social problem reflected in ineffective parenting
and socialization processes which fails to innovatively respond to the complex modern
environment exposing children to sexual exploitation and young adults to irresponsible
sexual involvement leading to unplanned pregnancies. The challenge of paternity
confirmation also reveals a glaring institutional gap. It creates a situation where the
alleged responsible men simply opt to deny responsibility or choose not recognize
paternity (Silberschmidt & Rasch, 2001: 1818), thereby skipping affiliation
responsibilities. Without paternity confirmation, a man evades duty to maintain a child
as stipulated in the Law of the Child Act, 2009 sec. 8, also skips parental duties and
responsibilities, as stipulated in sec. 9 of the Law of the Child Act, 2009; that also
automatically remove the child from the right to parental property, as provided for in
sec. 10 of the same act. This is apart from other social-cultural and psychological
challenges that a child might face for being a rejected child, or a child born to an
unknown father. In this regard, it is clear that often, failure to make men responsible for
their off-springs lead to multifaceted child vulnerability.

b) Traditional and Cultural Practices

It was pointed out that there were traditional and cultural practices which compromise
child welfare. Among many such practices, the following were most problematic: First,
is a traditional rite of passage practice known as ‘okosarwa,’ in Mara region and
distinctly symbolised by female circumcision. While in Mtwara, female rites of passage
such as ‘chivelevele’ are also practiced among the Makonde, it has been noted that
clitoridectomy was not performed as part of the ritual (Halley, 2012:101). Rites of
passage are considered necessary to train girls on the values, customs, traditions and
place of the woman in the community. They are considered vital for transition from
childhood to womanhood and preparation for, as well as an element ascertaining that
girls get married (Althaus, 1997:130). It was highlighted that to date, particularly in the
rural areas, without going through rites of passage, girls were unlikely to be married by
anyone in the community. However, while clitoridectomy has remained the symbol of
the ritual, these ceremonies, it was noted to be increasingly less valuable because of

many changes in the community. From an institutional perspective, this trend suggests
the attrition of a significant traditional institution of socialisation, and it was therefore of
interest, to explore what forces contributes to its weakening. Aired factors include that
many girls do not spend much time in the process as they were expected to because
they have to attend compulsorily primary school or sometimes go to secondary school.
They therefore do not sufficiently learn the valuable lessons they are supposed to
learn, and FGM becomes superficial symbolism. The most important aspects of the
rites, which is inculcating of essential traditions and values necessary for women of the
ethnic group to know, is not satisfactorily realised. With these changes, girls
increasingly end up knowing very little of the essence of rites of passage, and
‘okosarwa’, which was the symbolic37 aspect of this ceremony and therefore it is
losing its essential value.

Two, elders and women who had responsibility to train these girls appropriately have
become scarce. With elderly women, who know most thoroughly traditions and were
committed to administering the rites of passage dying, the upcoming generations are
ineptly prepared and most are lukewarm in their willingness to takeover. Cited reasons
for this trend include, that: Most people have embraced faiths different from traditional
religions, and religions such as Christianity fight against most of the traditional
practices and consider them sinful; also, that, as more women become modern, they
consider rites of passage as things of the past, which have little value in contemporary
modern lifestyle. Further, it was highlighted that there was increasing inter-marriage
across tribes, and many other tribe do not care or some even look down on those
traditional rites of passage. Women therefore have room to be married by anyone and
are not as afraid that they will not get married in the community. Again, it was stated
that many local men have changed and embraced Christianity as well as modernity,
and do not put as much emphasis on rites of passage as they once used to. Again, it
was also noted that because of the increasing rural-to urban migration and many

Apart from ‘okosarwa’ being a symbolic expression of a woman to have gone through the rite of passage
to become a full and complete woman, the study did not attempt to get a deeper understanding as to its

young women crave to move to urban areas and lead lives outside their local villages;
this reduces their tension adhere to tradition. Another, reason given is that many
members of the ethnic groups have been in to urban areas and settled for a long time,
many are educated, and therefore no longer follow traditions and culture. Which means
that in many rural household there is pressure to change from family members who are
in urban areas and because of urbanisation, exposure, education, religious affiliation
and other factors, do not subscribe or uphold traditions and culture, in particular, the
circumcision of girls.

Third, the female rite of passage transforms a girl to a woman; after the process, she is
no longer a child, irrespective of her actual age. For that reasons, traditionally she can
be proposed to for marriage and as a result, there have been many marriages of
underage children. Further, the process makes children feel grown up, and destined for
marriage. After the process, most lose interest with school or continuing past primary
education and are more interested to get married.

Fourth, criminalisation of FGM means that anyone who conducts it on a girl below 18
years old can be held accountable. This undermines the ability of both parents and
traditional attendants to readily force conduct it on children. Further, the gender
empowerment movement makes village authorities, and more men and women aware
of, and pro-female children’s rights. They also empower girls to be aware of their rights
and become increasingly resistant to go through the process, particularly FGM.

However, despite these ceremonies losing the ability to train girls as intended,
somehow, ‘okosarwa’ continues to be an important and enduring symbol of tradition
and identity. Since it is mostly done to under-18 girls, this practice is illegal. One
critical push for girls to undergo ‘okosarwa’ is that some still thinks it increases their
chance of getting married and elevates their social status. For families which still
steadfast hold to tradition, when girls in such families have gone through the rite of
passage, they are considered women, and therefore the family will stand to ensure that
she gets her place either by marriage or with the man who makes her pregnant. If for

examples she gets pregnant outside marriage, the family will go forth and claim her
honour from the man. On the contrary if she has not gone through ‘okosarwa’, and she
gets pregnant outside marriage, it is a different matter altogether. By tradition,
irrespective of how old she is, she is chased from the family home and her family
disowns her completely. After she is chased from home, they prepare a funeral for her
and perform traditional rituals to the effect that she is considered dead in the family.
Henceforth to the family she is dead, she becomes an outcast who must never to
return and the family will never associate with her again.

Therefore, though ongoing as hidden practice, FGM is still widely practiced particularly
in Mara the region. It is my conviction that MVCCs have not been able to intervene and
curtail the ‘okosarwa’ practice for several reasons. First, it was carried out with the
sanction of the family, and clandestinely, therefore one has to be a member of the
family to know. Second, because MVCCs members were also ordinary members of the
community, most of them still subscribe to the practice. Third, it was practically difficult
to question and prove families or children had participated in ‘okosarwa’ for prosecution

The second cultural practice contravene children’s right is Nyumba n’tobo, also
practice in Mara region. – Nyumba n’tobo38 is a practice which involves girls being
married to older women who have no husbands and/or no children of their own
(Lihamba et al., 2007: 49). Such girls are usually very young, and often do not know
that they have been married, and they come to realise their situation very much later in
life. These women have the right to choose a man with whom the girl should be
sexually intimate with and get children for them (ibid, p.441). Several problems were
flagged to emanate from the Nyumba n’tobo practice. One was that women who marry

For further clarification on ‘nyumba n’tobo’ see Meena, R. The Female Husband, in Meena et al. (2007) pp. 439-
441, also Mhando. E. N. (2005) Woman-Marriage as practiced by Wakuria of Northern Tanzania, MA (Sociology)
Dissertation, Dar es Salaam: University of Dar es Salaam, 134 pgs and Mhando, E. N. (2011) The need for wives
and the hunger for children: Marriage, Gender and Livelihood among the Kuria of Tanzania, PhD Thesis,
Goldsmiths, London: University of London, 250pgs

girls are grown up and sometimes even old. Over time the burden of raising children is
left with the girl because the man who gets her pregnant traditionally does not have
any responsibility over the girl or the children. He is simply a sperm donor. He does not
consider the children as his offspring, and traditionally is not supposed to. Tradition
also guides that neither of the women is supposed to seek help or favour from this
man, or connect the children to him in any way.

Another emerging challenge is that, in recent years, girls who were married via
‘nyumba n’tobo’ grow up and mature, most do not want to continue in this role and
escape to urban areas, leaving the old women with the children. They escape and seek
to start a new life and rarely return home, and when they do it, it is usually after a long
time after their escape. Often the children they left behind become vulnerable, as they
are under the care of an old woman, and sometimes these old women die, and the
leave behind child headed households. It also creates challenges for the children
because they will not have fatherly attention; and often become vulnerable particularly
to maiming poverty, if the woman who ‘marries’ is old and is not wealth enough to
sufficiently provide for them. All in all, this practice is problematic to the girls who get
married because it takes from them their prospects and future, often curtailing their

The third cultural practice flagged as particularly detrimental to the welfare of children
involves marrying the unborn children (foetus). In Africa, such a practice has been
documented among the ‘Oruganda’ of Uganda, where it was argued that ‘it was not
uncommon to find old men paying bride price for the yet unborn” (Rutanga, 2011:48).
It has also been documented that in pre-colonial Nigeria, among the Ibibio and the
Esan for example, polygamy made it excessively difficult for young men to find eligible
brides, a situation which led to the development of fetal marriages. In this practice, a
man’s family negotiated a marriage between the suitor’s family members and the family
of the unborn child, and if indeed a female child was born, a man and the neonate were
considered married (Obmabegho & Cherry, 2014: 488). Most recently, Mtui (2015)
flagged that bride-price to unborn girl is still widely practiced in Tanzania, among the

Sukuma and the Fipa. She highlighted that this practice exacerbates child marriages
as female children as young as seven years old are married off to older men because
the bride price has been paid long before they were born or at their infancy. In, Mara, it
was also flagged that in the past, such a practice was common, although in modern
times it has largely waned, though it was still practiced in a small scale to particularly
very traditional families, where people propose to marry and betroth children who are
still in the womb. Thus, if the child happens to be a girl she is born while already
engaged and part of the dowry paid.

“...this not so common now, in fact it is rare, because you hardly hear it any
more, although there are some people who still believe in it. These days,
things have changed, there is really no good reason to do the
past, people wanted to marry in good families, either, it involved chiefly
families or they were influential in some ways. Others had sworn to each
other to be relatives and marriage of between the families was seen as
binding that oath. Primarily, linking the families was the major reason why
someone would betroth an unborn child. So, these days there are still a
few people who hold to the same values and traditions” (Male FGD

Folktale has it that, if that happened, then it will just be a matter of the girl growing a bit
and she is sent to live in her husband’s house. If the husband considers her too young,
then he may exercise caution and avoid have sexual intercourse with her until the right
time, which is usually at the discretion of the husband. All rights of self-determination
for such children are yanked away from them while still in their mother’s wombs, and
their future sealed in a covenant of marriage entered before they were born.

Another cultural inclined tendency that compromised the welfare children is Gender
Based Child Partiality. In both Mtwara and Mara, it was pointed out that cultures and
traditional ways of life place very little value on female children as opposed to the male
children. Accordingly, female children tend to be ignored by parents in these localities
in terms of ensuring they get an education or support after primary school. Because
they are expected to get married and move to the families of their husbands,

investment in them is considered a waste of the meagre resources at the disposal of
these largely poor families.

“there are parents who actually instructs their daughters to fail themselves in
standard seven exams, so that they are not selected to go to secondary
school, and they arrange marriages for them” (Female FGD participant,

Traditionally, “initiation ceremony was one if the devices by which the community
passed on knowledge and symbolic metaphors to the young about the meaning and
practical implications of marriage and the continuity of the clan” (Ntukula, 1994:98).
Where this culture is dominant therefore, the upbringing of girls involves being nurtured
for marriage, prepared to be pleasing to their husbands and submissive to men; and to
expect no other prospect in life beyond marrying. Accounts of the initiation of girls in
the rites of passage among the Makonde for instance “suggest that this was
considered the time when girls were ready for instruction in the obligations of marriage
and motherhood” (Halley, 2012: 101); and since they were performed at approximately
the age of puberty, multiple accounts suggest that girls were married soon afterwards
(ibid.) Further, it has been noted that, among the Makonde because of their matrilineal
descent pattern, paternity was not a significant concern, therefore women’s sexual
activity was relatively unmonitored (ibid: 102). This orientation was reported to
contribute towards girls becoming sexually active very early in their lives and
subsequently getting early unplanned pregnancies. Similarly, among the Kurya, the
central focus of initiation rituals was preparation for adulthood, particularly family life
and associated gender patterned responsibilities (Mwita, 1983). On the basis of the
foregoing, suffice it to say that the socialization process which strongly orients girls
towards early marriage and considers marriage as the optimum achievement expected
in the local social-cultural context is likely to demoralise the initiative of girls particularly
in education.

c) Families’ Infringement of Child Welfare

MVCCs also strongly and consistently explained that while there are many causes of
child vulnerability outside the control of the family, still many families were at the core
of avoidable household children’s vulnerability. This was an important finding in the
study because it sheds light on the ways families cause preventable children’s
vulnerabilities in these localities. More importantly, this finding raised a question over
the consideration of the family as the first line institutions in issues pertaining to CP and

Ideally, families are expected to be havens for children with adult members of the
family striving to ensure their basic needs are met. Similarly, the family is also the
primary setting where some of the most important needs such as those identified by
Pringle (1986)—love and security; new experiences; praise and recognition, and
responsibility—are expected to be found or facilitated. In fact, the United Nations
Declaration of the Rights of the Child stipulates that “The child, for the full and
harmonious development of his personality, needs love and understanding. He shall,
wherever possible, grow up in the care and under the responsibility of his parents, and
in any case in an atmosphere of affection and of moral and material security.” Contrary
to this noble expectation, MVCCs pointed out that many the families in their localities
were responsible for the plight of the children in many ways, including, families’ apathy
with regards to the future of children.

According to the MVCCs, there is very limited or complete lack of vision of a different
adulthood for children in these societies. Families and parents did not have high
expectations for their children. They have resigned to their way of life and did not
comprehend the potential for improvement. Because of apathy, parents and families in
general, did not encourage, nurture, guide and work to ensure that they set the children
on the path towards better prospects. Apathy was singled out as the root cause of child
vulnerability, particularly because it led to lack of care and concern for the children’s
future. Several examples were given. For example, it was commented that families

readily took poverty as an excuse not to provide their children with their needs. They
pointed out that parents may be drinking local brew daily and paying for it, but when it
comes to buying school uniforms, or buying exercise-books or ensuring children are
treated when they are sick they feign poverty. It was mentioned that parents
consistently neglected children without any form of care or guidance. In fact, many
children were left to fend for themselves as parents became alcoholic and ceased to
care for them, and consequently their children became vulnerable.

“.... yes, there are destitute people, especially, old destitute people,...that is
different, but for instance, does it make sense to you that, the person who
drinks local brew every day, a complete drunkard, would say I am too poor
to buy school exercise books for my children? When you look at him, and
where he lives, you will say, this person is very poor they need support, but
all the money, however little he gets does not even go for food, or important
necessities at home, but disappears in a local pub” (Male FGD participant-
Musoma Rural).

“...even women are to blame sometimes, men have a lot of responsibilities
weighing on them, and you find a woman struggling to make ends meet, doing
all kinds of petty business, trying to save some money from food budget, but at
the end, how does she use the money, they have to get a fashionable Kitenge,
or Dira, or new Khanga, to show off to neighbours and relatives, instead of
supporting the husband. If everything waits on the man, then sometimes
children can suffer, while it something that just a woman could have helped
out” (Female FGD participant-Mtwara Urban).

It was also highlighted that parents were in the forefront of condoning serious matters
that led to vulnerability of children or even encouraged them. For instance, parents
were reported to conspire and negotiate with culprits when their daughters were
impregnated while still underage or at school. As such they do not report such cases to
the authorities as required for the law to take its course. In case, the issue has been
either reported by parents or another part, and then parents settle with the culprit, the
parents then do not further cooperate with law enforcement agencies on the matter. In
cases where the police are involved, parents go to great lengths by hiding abused girls
or sending them away to distant friends or relatives to make it difficult or impossible for

her to be available and testify when the case comes up in court. Such behaviour
perpetuates the tendency of people engaging in sex with female children.

“...come to think of it, if the person has already impregnated your daughter,
and is willing to support the child, how does it help if he ends up in jail? For
him to go to jail does not change anything. Is it not better if he is around to
support the child and the family?” (Female FGD Participant-Mtwara Rural)

On the other hand, cases of impregnating female children and families negotiating
outside the judicial system, were also explained to protect the child to be born. It was
argued that while the child has already become pregnant, it was a double loss to send
the culprit to prison. It meant that the family of the impregnated girl will have to care
and support the child while its father rots in prison, while at the same time, the girls’
future is already in tatters anyway. Resolving the issue is considered a way of building
a good relationship with the culprit and ensuring the child and the family gets support
from the man.

Again, it was also highlighted that, structural poverty made many families consider
female children a burden, which can only be offloaded through marriage, and earn the
family some income through dowry, or expand the hedge for social support through
family unions through marriage. In that respect, as it was noted above, some parents
discouraged their daughters from studying and encourage them to ensure they
deliberately fail examinations so that they do not continue with education beyond
primary school, to pave way for early marriages.

Yet, it is apparent that efforts towards child social protection and child protection will
gain little success and be costly and complex without families, being the first line
institution for child welfare, to aspire, want and push for better opportunities and fate for
their children. It is essential that parents and guardians who do not do so willingly, are
compelled to act responsibly towards their children. On the basis of the foregoing, it is
very important for the Gender and Children’s desk be more incapacitated, and work
more closer with the Department of Social Welfare; grassroots institutions of

governance, such as village government’s, NGOs and other stakeholders working on
child welfare issues, including MVCCs and other community members. After all, apart
from the direct children abuse issues reported to the police, there are many unreported
family-related problems which in one way or another affect the families and the
wellbeing of the children. This specialisation and relationship can help in handling,
managing, facilitating, linking and guiding the afflicted parties in a more support-
inclined manner, for a more sustainable and beneficial outcome for the households and
the children.

Further, these finding underscores the importance of policy and programme
intervention to be informed by ground realities. For example, issues such as child
desertion and child rejection pertinent at the grassroots level, are not readily
acknowledged fundamental causes of child vulnerability compared for instance to
orphanage. These findings also challenge long-held assumptions that take for granted
that children are primarily well-cared for, supported and protected within their families,
particularly when you look at cultural practices that affect children, and families’
infringement on child welfare. We would expect that institutional interventions by
governmental and non-governmental actors to reflect this ground reality and
systematically respond to solve these particularly acute problems, but this is not always
the case. The efforts are superficial at best; addressing manifestations of the problem
and not the core cause, which means that chances of containing and reducing the
problem are slim, and the sustainability of results are doomed to fail.

Lack of comprehensive, updated records, which can concretely provide a sensible
cross-sectional statistical description of children’s right abuse trend in the localities,
highlights the depth of the challenge in fundamentally addressing and redressing
children’s right abuse in Tanzania. Without the ability to capture consistently children’s
rights abuses at the grassroots, where most of such abuses happen, there is a great
possibility of dealing with the problem only superficially.

98 The Social Welfare Department – Ministry of Health and Social Welfare

The study interviewed regional and district social welfare officers in all the districts of
Mtwara and Mara, as well as community development officer to synthesise their
perceived roles and experiences in the context of child welfare issues. I found out
several strategic issues which have a direct bearing on institutional level effectiveness
in overseeing child welfare issues. For example, because it the office is at the district
level, the presence of the Social Welfare Department in the grassroots is very weak
and its relevancy oblivious, such that very few cases relating to CSP and CP are
brought to the department. DSWOs for instance observed that there is very limited
recognition of the role of social workers and social welfare officers in the regions and
districts, especially from various stakeholders who in an ideal sense have to work with
social workers in the interest of children.

“People think the social welfare office is a place you go, when you have
marital problems, that’s all. They do not know the full extent of issues that
the department deals with, and so they do not involve us.” (DSWO-7).

Because the department is mostly oblivious, its role in coordinating child social welfare
issues is compromised by stakeholders who act independent of the department. For
example, it was also clear that NGOs working with children are not compelled to report,
link with or engage with the Social Welfare Department (SWD) in the districts where
they are operating. They may do that, at their own discretion. This is exacerbated by
the fact that NGOs including those which deal with the children’s welfare, do not seek
their registration through the SWD. The only NGOs that have to seek registration
through the SWD are those who seek registration for children’s homes.

It was also clear that; overall, the Department of Social Welfare is acutely understaffed
and, therefore, understandably overwhelmed by work. This problem is compounded by
the low operational budget the Department has to contend with. Inevitably, the
performance of the department becomes even more compromised. According to the
Tanzanian basic facts and figures on human settlements report of 2009, Social Welfare

workers were understaffed by 95 percent and at the ward level by 100 percent. This is
a big margin that most certainly affects the delivery of social welfare services to the

Table VI: Number of Social Welfare Staff by Administrative Level 2005

Sn. Location Required Available Shortage Shortage
Per cent

1 DSW HQ 60 37 23 38%

2 Regional Secretariats 21 10 11 52%

3 Regional Level 84 66 18 21%

4 District Level 945 62 883 93%

5 Ward Level 2,555 0 2,555 100%

6 Centres for people with 227 35 192 85%
disabilities and other

Total 3,892 210 3,682 95%

Source: Basic Facts and Figures, 2009 on Human Settlements on Tanzania Mainland

It is noted that, in Tanzania a new cadre of social workers, known as ‘Social Welfare
Assistant’ was established as Government position with a Scheme of Service adapted
in 200839 by both the Ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office on Regional and Local
Government Affairs. Respectively, the Department of Social Welfare, the American
International Health Alliance (AIHA)40, Institute of Social Work and the University of

It should be noted that according to the MoHSW (2008) Human Resource for Health Strategic Plan 2008-2013,
the scheme of services does not allow employment of lower level Social Welfare cadres including the certificate
and diploma level (p.2) it therefore needed review reviewed to accommodate the certificates and diploma
graduates to work in the lower level (ibid.).
See Press Release: Government of Tanzania Launches New Social Welfare Assistant Training Program, available

Illinois-Chicago’s Jane Addams College of Social Work and Midwest AIDS Training
and Education Center developed the educational program to train Social Welfare
Assistants in 2011. The developed curriculum and training materials were approved by
the National Council for Technical Education (NACTE) in 2012. The intention is to
place ‘Social Welfare Assistants’ at ward and village levels to bridge the overstretched
health and social welfare workforce in the country. Up to the time of this report, I had
not come across any study that has studied the efficacy of this initiative so far, and
therefore its contribution is yet to be systematically determined.

Further, it was also found out that a budget for outreach programmes and the
department’s basic activities such as routine visits to potential areas of social work
interests such as hospitals, the Police Department and stations, orphanages, villages,
etc., is non-existent at the district level. Accordingly, there is a loophole which allows
people not to comply with regulations and laws put in place to protect children or
enhance their social welfare. For instance, in Tarime, the district social welfare officer
highlighted two cases to stress this point. There are two orphanages, namely the
Methodist Angel House Orphanage Home Tanzania Trust (MAHOTT) and City of Hope
Orphanage Centre (CHOC). MAHOTT started its activities in 2005; however, it was
only in 2009 after the DSWO wrote them a letter that they applied from the District
Social Welfare Department for an obligatory licence to operate. In other words, the
orphanage had operated for four (4) years without a clearance and authority to do so. It
also operated all that time without a social welfare officer visiting to ascertain that all
was well with the children, the living conditions and to ensure that the centre was
abiding by CP and CSP requirements. According to the DSWO, City of Hope, on the
other hand, was even officially launched by the President of Tanzania in 2009. Yet till
then it had not applied for the license to operate and, therefore, not cleared to start
operating by the Department of Social Welfare. The DSWO had to write them a letter
informing them that they needed to apply and get the obligatory license to operate. By
the time of field research for this study, they had just visited the social welfare office to
collect the license application forms. A glimpse of the situation of orphanages, which

the Social Welfare Department is supposed to oversee, is provided in by Hermenau
(2014) as quoted elaborately below.

“However, many orphanages are nongovernmental, and there is no
overall structure to ensure at least a minimal quality standard. We
think that countries such as Tanzania need common practices and
guidelines that apply to all orphanages to ensure a minimum of
quality in childcare. For example, a mandatory caregiver–child ratio
for all institutions is needed. More caregivers are required for
institutions housing infants than for those with older children. Infants
need more attention and positive emotional and physical care by
their caregivers because they need more assistance in daily tasks
such as eating and hygiene. If the caregiver child ratio is in poor
balance, making caregivers are overstrained, they are more likely to
react violently toward young children who need more assistance, are
slower, or try to get their attention. On the other hand, it also can
result in neglecting children, particularly emotionally.” (Hermenau et
al. 2014: 107-108)

Further, DSWOs highlighted that the department is unable to sustain outreach and
monitoring activities, most orphanages and children’s homes are run without
necessarily having qualified staff or acceptable quality and safety standards, contrary
to the legal requirements. It is therefore not easy to determine whether children with
special needs such as psychosocial needs, are professionally or adequately attended
to. Without DSWOs regular visitation to these centres, there is also a loophole for
submitting requisite credentials, but without the personnel working in the centres.

DSWOs also highlighted that, they did not get regular opportunities to refresh, update
and sharpen their technical skills.

“...for example, there are new laws, regulations, strategies, plans,
programmes and many other things every other day. How does a
DSWO in the end of the earth, such as where we know about these
things and how to implement them, if the officer has not had training or
capacity building opportunity for over a decade?” (DSWO 2).

“Social work is a profession, and it is a skill based profession, there are
many issues, such technical, ethical, etc which are developed consistently.
Like accountants or lawyers, who needs to be up to date to be relevant,
also social work is like that. If we do not get these opportunities, social
workers become overtaken by events, as is the case now” (DSWO 8)

As a result, they acknowledge to having limited, sometimes outdated knowledge of the
things that make social work a distinct profession, for examples the various laws and
regulations, as well as existing relevant programmes being implemented and limited
comprehension of the strategic position of their portfolios in ensuring and enhancing
CP and CSP. Therefore, they do not have a consistent programme or strategy in the
Social Welfare Department to promote and enhance CP and CSP in their respective

Some social welfare officers were of the opinion that linking Social Welfare with the
Health Sector has subsequently made the department even frailer in its capacity to
deliver services effectively. The outcome of locating Social Welfare under the Ministry
of Health has resulted in Social Welfare being submerged by Health, the dominant
sector in the Ministry. It was pointed out that Social Welfare has a massive role to play
in society, but it has been neglected by the government. Consequently, Social Welfare
has deviated from its core values and roles and instead deals with petty issues.

“To understand what I mean, just go to the website of our Ministry and see
how Social Welfare has been muted. When you look, it is nowhere to be
seen, even in the list of the Ministry’s department it is not there, that is the
status it has in the ministry, like an afterthought. Health is a certainly a
major issue, and probably it should just remain to be the Ministry of Health.
Social Welfare has been pegged and has become irrelevant. There isn’t
even a link to take you to its webpage because none has been created,
that is how insignificant social work is considered to be.” (DSWO 5)

There is also a overlapping of roles between the social welfare office and community
development office, and confusion in terms of what is in the portfolio of the community
development offices (CDOs) and what should be in the portfolio of social welfare

offices (SWOs). The tension has been exacerbated by several things, and my
observation is that the key reasons include that most people do not know about the
district social welfare offices, what they do and what their specific responsibilities are.
On the contrary, it is easy to make sense of community development, therefore most
individuals and agencies, either for lack of knowledge or for practical reasons, tend to
approach and work with CDOs than SWOs. For that reason, most issues and programs
are taken to community development even when ideally, they should be taken to social
welfare. Overtime therefore, community development has aligned itself with most of the
activities and projects that ideally touch the everyday lives and needs of the people,
even those which should be in the portfolio of the Social Welfare Department, leaving
the Social Welfare Department to deal with issues that specifically require the attention
of the SWD for court, police or other legal proceedings or requirements. Again, CDOs
are linked with local government in the local government structure, and their officers
are located up to ward level, whilst up until field work for this report, the Department of
Social Welfare was only operating from the district level upwards. Having officers at the
ward level, CDOs are closer and easily integrate with the community while social
welfare offices at the district level, are detached and hardly engage frequently with the
community at the grassroots. Further, LGAs being the implementing machinery of most
development activities, means that most stakeholders, programs and activities
introduce themselves, report and seek the collaboration of LGAs, which makes it for
CDOs to be integrated in these activities while SWOs are at an arm’s length.

DSWO also noted that the existence of the ‘Ministry of Community Development,
Gender and Children (MCDGC), confounded matters, because it is confusing on who
has to take a lead on child welfare issues. There is no clarity on what the role of the
Ministry is and what the role of the Social Welfare Department is. They strongly
highlighted the need for clear division of roles and responsibilities, as well as
associated budget allocation. They gave the example of the formation of the Multi-
Sector Task Force (MSTF) which was established to propel a National Response to
Violence Against Children. It is the opinion of DSWO that, the MCDGC and the Social
Welfare Department, were supposed to be co-lead institutions. However, that was not

to be, and MCDGC became the convener and coordinator of the MSTF, while the SWD
did not directly feature, as it was overshadowed by MoHSW which became one of the
MSTF members. Apart of from frequently bypassing and undermining the SWD; in
practical terms, the MCDGC do not have the institutional setup to sustainably and
consistently coordinate, oversee and monitor the implementation of the agreed MSTF
items at the local levels, from the districts downwards. The overall effect is that
initiatives become heavily donor funded projects, fading out at the end of the project
instead of being locally institutionalized for sustainability.

DSWOs further, lamented that, the Government either has a negative attitude towards
the social welfare department and social work as a practice so it is set on ignoring and
undermining it, or there are key decision makers who have no idea what the role of the
social welfare division is. These sentiments were expressed at what they felt was the
incredulity of the government establishing the Tanzania Social Action Fund (TASAF),
as parallel instrument to implement projects which are at the core of the existence of
social welfare department.

“TASAF’s support targets the people who live below the basic needs poverty
line, the destitute so to speak. That is their primary target. So, if that is who
they focus on, who are the beneficiaries of social welfare services?” (DSWO-

In particular it was pointed out that the main TASAF interventions’ namely conditional
cash transfer, public works program and livelihood enhancement are aligned with
acceptable social work services delivery approaches. For that reason, and by the
nature of the problems TASAF is addressing, they perceive that ideally, it was the
department of social welfare which should have been coordinating the program.
Establishing a parallel entity therefore is considered as a snob to the department and
the social work profession.

4.5.3 Voluntary Agencies

Under voluntary agencies two polemics emerged which deserved separate attention.
The first is the involvement and lessons learnt from Non-Governmental Organisations
and the second is the establishment, existence and lessons learnt from Most
Vulnerable Children’s Committees (MVCCs). The MVCCs are considered under
voluntary agencies because their establishment was under the initiative of voluntary
agencies, and henceforth have not been formally accommodated in the village
governance structure. Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs)

“NGOs are usually understood to be the group of organizations engaged in
development and poverty reduction work at local, national, and global levels around
the world” (Lewis, 2001: 1). NGOs, “are an important part of civil society. As part of
civil society, and therefore distinct from both the state and private enterprise, NGOs
are nonprofit as well as nongovernmental” (Atack, 1999:855). As ‘voluntary
incorporated agencies,’ NGOs are recognized to have variously, consistently and
universally played a critical role in advocating for, and delivering custom designed
services in promotion of child welfare. For example, the International Congress for the
Suppression of the Traffic in Women and Children is recognized for pioneering fights
against child traffic (Boli & Thomas, 1997:186), while Save the Children International
Union (SCIU) for instance is widely acknowledged as the genesis of the Convention on
the Rights of the Child (Cohen, 1990:138). In this sense, we can see that NGOs have
been paramount in creation of universal values and internationalization of norms
regarding child welfare. The study refrained from giving in to a natural institutional
theory inclination to explore the structures and processes emanating as NGOs
advocates and promote the child welfare agenda. Instead, it was mainly interested in
two aspects regarding NGOs involvement in the enhancement of children’s welfare in
Tanzania. One was to identify and evaluate the main approach employed in delivering

services to children; and second, to look at how they addressed the question of
intervention sustainability.

Regarding the services delivery approach, my observation, based on the activities of
the NGOs I visited in the regions of Mtwara and Mara, is that majority of NGOs that
work with children mainly focus on child social protection assistance and provide basic
needs items to vulnerable children through what I call the ‘Direct-Support Model’
(DSM). This approach is similar to what Shivji (2004:689) termed a ‘benefactors and
beneficiaries’ relationship existing between NGOs and the people in Tanzania. MVCs,
therefore, get things such as school uniforms, school materials, food, mattresses and
the like. Based on of basic characteristics of these NGOs and the shared nature of
their activities, I synthesised the core institutional issues of the Direct-Support Model
construct, with particular attention to the implications of the ‘benefactors and
beneficiaries’ relationship.’ My observations respectively are that, first, it is
unsustainable and inconsistent. One of the challenges highlighted by several NGOs on
the ground is the inability to be consistent on the commitments they make to their
beneficiaries. For instance, they may have beneficiaries who are supposed to get
uniform at the beginning of the year, but the grant does not come in for various

“The donor said they have changed their funding policy, and will not be
continuing with the program” (KI 2– NGOs)

“We were informed that, they are currently going through some financial
difficulties so we have to wait to see how things will turn out” (KI17- NGOs)

Most NGOs get support from other international NGOs or bilateral organisations, and it
is clear that, the benefactors can pull out anytime of their choice and they can refrain
from giving support at any time, albeit for genuine reasons. However, when that
happens, what happens to the vulnerable children who were in the program. This flags
the sustainability issue. Unfortunately, NGOs implement activities, independently, i.e.
and are not obliged to have binding program contracts with the Social Welfare
Department. For that reason, despite the assumed good will of the NGO, issues of

intervention sustainability are not addressed, and their implication on affected children.
It is my opinion that, the ‘benefactor and beneficiaries’ relationship’ is not properly
managed undermines the dignity of the latter. The other issue is that, under the current
situation, neither the extent of support nor their presence can be guaranteed, which
again underline the importance of intervention significance. As will be shown below,
UNICEF, for instance, invested heavily in the introduction of the MVCCs concept, and
involvement of communities as well as the District Social Welfare Departments in the
identification of MVCs and then opted to go into another direction, leaving MVCCs and
identified MVCs hanging. As Cameron (2001:59) noted, it appears to be the achilles-
heel of NGOs in Tanzania, that when the principal funder ceases the support, activities
come to a standstill. Without concrete intervention sustainability plans the entire
exercise amounts to rocking the boat, without actual impact to the society or to the
vulnerable children, who are the primary beneficiaries.

The other observation is that, in terms of comprehensive coverage, NGOs cannot and
do not help all identified vulnerable children. Irrespective of how many children are
actually vulnerable, they tend to limit their support to a certain number based on the
resources at hand and target of the number of children they intend to reach, and many
more children left out with no support. Moreover, the Direct-Support Model is incapable
of long-term, effective and equitable catering of the swelling numbers of orphans and
ubiquitous forms of vulnerabilities in children. In the words of one respondent,

“there are so many NGOs, so many projects, initiatives, players – it is
confusing, one does a little of this, another a little of that, and at the end
of it all, the problem of vulnerable children is not ebbing…just
increasing” (CDO 1)

To clarify this point, consider for instance that during the UNICEF program (briefly
alluded to above), in 2007, a total of 8,807 vulnerable children were identified in
Serengeti District alone. In a Direct Support Model, and assuming an NGO focused
exclusively on Serengeti district, how much budget will it need for to support these

children until the graduate from childhood, what about children who become vulnerable
every other day? Then, roll out the program to the entire Mara region, then all other
regions of Tanzania. The projections will show that, to support vulnerable children in
Tanzania, through a Direct-Support Model, will need a momentous amount of funding,
which even if attained on one time, will be difficult to sustain.

Expounding further on NGOs, another observation I took note of is that, although
numerous NGOs seek to address child welfare, this is not a collective effort, but rather
dissipated initiatives. There is hardly any coordination of their activities or consensus
about what needs to be done or how it should be done. My curiosity on why there was
no collective of approach in implementing addressing child vulnerability in these
localities drew a range of responses which I summarized as follows: First, NGOs or
rather donor agencies supporting NGOs want direct recognition of what they do; they
require tangible results to be exclusively associated with their funds and therefore opt
for ‘go-it alone’ projects rather than coordinated efforts, which will have distributed
recognition to a number of players. This means, priority is the impact the particular
NGOs is making, and not, the overall societal transformation. As noted elsewhere,
although bilateral and multilateral donor agencies are keen to finance NGOs, however,
the latter’s greater dependence on official funding is likely to compromise their
performance in key areas, distort accountability, and weaken legitimacy (Edwards &
Hulme, 1996). The second related issue is that, not only do donors want exclusive
recognition, but also NGOs want to report their exclusive deliverables to their donors to
justify funding.

The third constrain is that, donors have different priorities and operational strategies
which they superimpose on NGOs, and therefore there is no consistency in
intervention approaches. While for instance, they both wish to contribute school
uniforms, how they go about doing that, for instance how they identify vulnerable
children, or implementing partners differs considerably. It was clear that NGOs design
programmes based on donor’s preferred strategy and not necessarily reflecting on
what the reality on the ground. The case in point is the example of UNICEF and PACT-

TZ operations in Mara and Mtwara. UNICEF started an approach that led to the
creation of the MVCCs, whose members were attained through public recommendation
and consensus in the ‘village assembly’ and attempting to localise the vulnerable
children agenda at the village level. Under this setup all issues regarding vulnerable
children in the village level were to be coordinated by the MVCCs. However, UNICEF
left, and PACT-TZ came onto the scene, they had a different system which bypassed
and ignored the MVCCs altogether. The PACT approach involved identification of
independent volunteers to work directly with the organization, in a loose framework that
had no accountability to the village assembly, the village administration or anyone but

It is my opinion therefore that, except for advocacy activities, as far as CP and CSP are
concerned NGOs are meant to supplement or complement government initiatives;
however, on the ground, they find circumstances where there is a vacuum of
government’s responsibilities and therefore addressing the bulk of needs becomes an
uphill task. In this regard, given the expansiveness of the problem, it is clear that
Tanzania needs a sober national strategy on how to confront the problem vulnerable
children in the country. I underline ‘sober national strategy,’ cognisant that, we have
had MCDGC’s fifteen years long and imminently ending ‘National Plan of Action for the
prevention and Eradication of Violence against Women and Children: 2001-2015. This
plan was vital for child protection issues, and at its climax we need to have an
assessment of the milestone we have made, if at all. There has also been the
Tanzania’s Most Vulnerable Children (MVC) programme which started in 2000 on a
pilot basis by the Department of Social Welfare in the Ministry of Health and Social
Welfare with the support of UNICEF, and piloted 17 out of a total of 126 districts in the
country (Kessy, 2014: 13). We also had the “Tanzanian National Plan of Action for
Most Vulnerable Children” which although developed since 2005/2006, to date in the
MCDGC website it still reads that the plan is yet to be officially adopted, although it was

piloted in 21 villages of the country’s 126 districts. 41 Further, this plan depended “upon
the success of village level most vulnerable children’s committees (MVCCs) and upon
the ability of a public/private infrastructure to respond to the MVCCs and coordinate
implementation of the plan at all levels” (Correll & Correll, 2006). Unfortunately, at the
time of this study, none of the MVCC was active all districts of Mara and Mtwara. I am
also aware of the MoHSW - Department of Social Welfare’s ‘The National Costed Plan
of Action for Most Vulnerable Children: 2007 – 2010’; and its successor ‘The National
Costed Plan of Action for Most Vulnerable Children II: 2013 – 2017.’ Both NCPA I and
NCPA, MVCCs are strongly part of the plan, and in the NCPA II for instance, in p.3 it
argues that “in order to achieve these outcomes, specific interventions will be focused
on strengthening the capacity of the Most Vulnerable Children Committees,” which
means the MVCCs are still considered quite relevant in confronting child vulnerability in
Tanzania. The main question is how successful was the first plan in lessening the
problem of child vulnerability in Tanzania. What are the lessons learnt? We need to
interrogate all these plans in terms of their viability, how they are synchronized with
other existing national plans and strategies, and how they are complimenting other
existing initiatives, such as TASAF which addresses destitute families and individuals. Most Vulnerable Children Committees (MVCCS)

The establishment of the Most Vulnerable Children Committees, (MVCCs) has its
background at the Tanzania’s Most Vulnerable Children (MVC) Programme (mentioned
above). The main objective of the MVC programme was to build the capacity of the
communities to provide care, support, and protection to their most vulnerable children
(Kessy, 2014:13), and key part of this process was the establishment of Most
Vulnerable Children’s Committees (MVCCs) at ward and village levels (ibid.);
community-based identification of MVCs, and the mobilization of resources at the
community level (Mamdani et al. 2008: 24). As such, “the MVCC model attempted to

See at

build grassroots systems to coordinate available resources for the most vulnerable
children” (Kessy op cit.:14). MVCCs were therefore established as community based
institutions designed to coordinate support, care for and nurture vulnerable children.

Despite much effort, unfortunately, I was not able to attain the MVC program
document, which is the genesis of MVCCs. However, based on wide ranging
consultations I have had with DSWOs, FGDs with MVCCs in the course of this study,
and insight gained from relevant references cited in this work, I can confidently
speculate the that, first, MVCCs were meant to be community grounded institutions to
create a socially-acceptable, conducive and equitable environment for children
nurturance and growth. They were meant to localise the vulnerable children agenda,
and make the community own the problem of vulnerable children. In practical terms, I
can surmise that MVCCs were meant to oversee the welfare of children in their
respective communities, timely respond to child vulnerability and coordinate all child
welfare issues at the grassroots. This is because community strengthening has been
variously recommended as a viable approach towards child protection (Daro & Dodge,
2009; Strebel, 2004; Barter, 2001; Foster et al. 1996). It has also been established that
facilitating sustainable arrangements by enabling suitable households to provide care
is likely to reduce disruption and trauma to vulnerable children (Ansell & Young, 2004).
With regard to care for orphaned and vulnerable children, UNICEF (2006:19) had also
noted that “the closer children remain to their biological family, the more likely they are
to be well cared for.” It is my opinion that, this use of community components was also
meant to correct a classical practice that introduce change through intervention
measures that are separate and often foreign to the social context which often has a
negative consequence of usurping intervention ownership from the community and of
potentially creating a dependency syndrome. Secondly, I can further speculate that,
MVCCs were established so that vulnerable children are given the opportunity to lead
as normal lives as possible. This involves living and growing up within the community
and not in isolation from the community or parallel to the community, as it happens
when they are placed in orphanages or homes for vulnerable children.

The initiative to establish MVCCs reflects the recognition of diminishing capacity of
traditional institutions to support orphans and/or vulnerable children, and the
realisation that there are inadequate alternative institutional frameworks to
indiscriminately address structural challenges of children. They also reflect an
assumption that varied stakeholders have interest to support vulnerable children but
lack of an effective model, coordination of efforts, systematic channeling of that support
and the possibility of monitoring and evaluation for impact (Forster, 2000, op cit.). In
this sense, they were established on the assumption that intervention in meeting the
diverse needs of the children can be sustainable and of overall qualitative significance
through service integration and enhancement of community institutions. An ideal
MVCC, therefore, needs to be able to identify structural challenges that compromise
child welfare and inculcate interventions to overcome those challenges in a sustainable

In my opinion, the uniqueness of the MVCCs model is the endeavour to stimulate a
community response to the challenge of intensifying child vulnerability and the attempt
to integrate vulnerable children services to existing grassroots institutions of
governance at the village and street level, as opposed to the common approach of
using not for profit voluntary organisations. In this regard, and based on interviews I
held with DSWOs as well as the FGDs I conducted with MVCCs, I can abridge the key
features of an ideal MVCC model to be:

i) Community ownership: This was facilitated through, creating MVCC team from
members of the community in a public meeting by either asking for volunteers or
recommendation from other community members or endowing it with its key tasks
with the consent of the members of the community. The process of establishing
MVCCs was participatory and meant to provide the avenue for enhancing
community and institutional capacity in dealing with vulnerable children’s crisis and
thereby providing support instead of giving aid. Community ownership also
intended to inculcate the ability of the community through the work of MVCCs to

moderate bias and stigma particularly the elements that are detrimental to the
welfare of vulnerable children;

ii) Anchorage to grassroots institutions of governance: MVCCs were designed to
work as part of the village or street governance structure. The committee was to
use the existing structures, which had three major benefits: first, existing structures
understand the community, its needs and its problems, most clearly; second, the
MVCCs do not need to go through the hassle of establishing themselves or
seeking new institutional legitimacy; third, they offer a direct sustainable avenue for
community empowerment and support. Anchorage to grassroots institutions of
governance also offers the possibility of both institutional and initiative

iii) Impartiality: MVCC were to take in their wings all vulnerable children in their
respective localities. This was meant to achieve impartial qualitative change among
vulnerable children and improving their conditions of life through social
support as well as the wellbeing of community members who have
responsibility over these children. This was meant to ensure smooth promotion of
social equity through unbiased accessibility of services and attain indiscriminate
improvement of the quality of social services for vulnerable children.

In this study, therefore, MVCCs were evaluated by the degree to which their services
are sustainably engraved in community institutions and are indiscriminately accessible
to all children, especially vulnerable ones in the society rather than the direct causal
relationship between the intervention and impact on the structural problem. Preceding
the nature of the intervention, the priority is on how the intervention was effectuated.
This means that the important aspect emphasised is not only the type of programmes
being implemented but precisely how they are implemented, which is fundamental in
explaining the effectiveness of the methodology. Based on this, the following issues
became apparent as far as MVCCs were concerned:

First, at the time of their establishment, there was very little capacity-building for the
committees to enable members to sustain the activities and ensure children’s welfare
were protected and ensured in the localities. Committee members received hardly two
days of training and since then no other capacity-building had been undertaken. And
yet, the activities they were supposed to undertake require that they have meticulous
record-keeping skills, good interpersonal relationship, community and resources
mobilisation skills, a basic understanding of children’s rights, a basic understanding of
the larger institutional framework that they can be linked with, and can work with in
promoting children’s right and welfare, etc., which they do not have.

Further, MVCCs do not have clear terms of reference or a consistent operational
manual to guide their activities. As a result, there are conflicting understandings across
committees and amongst members regarding their portfolio. When you look, for
instance, at how they view the means of getting resources for meeting vulnerable
children’s needs, some committees believe it is the responsibility of the donors, and
feel betrayed by the UNICEF’s pull out which left them hanging and lost. Some feel
they need to be able to write proposals and apply for donor support; and yet still some
feel that it is primarily community members who should contribute, while others were of
the view that it was the responsibility of the committee members to generate resources
amongst themselves. There were also mixed understanding other issues such as
contributions from community members, (by the way attempts to collect from
community members miserably failed across all MVCCs that participated in the study).
There were those with the opinion that community members’ contribution is
compulsory, since it was agreed in the village assembly and others who felt it was not
compulsory for community members to contribute but voluntary. Some felt that it has to
be an equivalent amount for each household, and anything else is goodwill, while
others were of the opinion that the nature of contribution depended on the ability of a
person and what they can give whether it was crops, money or anything else. By and
large, the committees have no consistent and shared understanding of how the
committees are supposed to function. Again, at the district level, there is no clear ToR
regarding how Social Welfare Officers should work with MVC committees at the village

or street level. Similarly, at the ward level there is no clear ToR for Ward Community
Development Officers (WCDO) regarding how they can link and work with MVCCs.
Also, at the village level there is no provision in the village governance regarding how
they should work with MVCCs. The MVCCs are not appropriately formalised and
consolidated in the structure either of the local government or the social welfare
department. Mamdani et al. (2009:24) posit that, “standard Guidelines on Community
Care for MVC, and training manuals and packages have been developed to support
the training of the MVCCs.” However, up to the time of this study, no capacity building
training had ever been conducted to MVCCs in Mtwara and Mara.

Secondly, MVCCs do not have a patron and, therefore, hang loosely in the community.
They are not part of the official village or street governance per se because they are
neither in the structure of the grassroots institutions of governance nor under the Social
Welfare Department. Moreover, they do not have a support system for guidance or
reporting. Zhou (2012: 60) argue that “the districts are in charge of coordinating the
MVCCs in the villages that they oversee. Each district is led by a District Executive
Officer. The district councils not only manage OVC records, but also coordinate
meetings of MVCCs and facilitate communication between districts. Most importantly,
each district is responsible for financing interventions including social services for OVC,
medical care, and subsidies to families.” However, that is neither the witnessed nor
expressed ground reality I encountered, in the localities of the study, in the course of
this research. What became manifest to me, is that MVCCs are widely considered a
UNICEF project, and with UNICEF exit, MVCCs became project that widely lost lustre
and ownership.

Thirdly, MVCCs members expressed being overburdened with responsibilities on
MVCs because of extremely high expectations pertaining to what they can, while there
was no support system. For instance, the few MVCCs which are still active highlighted
one of the challenges they faced as the obligation for the committees to raise funds
amongst themselves for health care of MVCs in their patronage. They also felt
compelled that whenever the MVCs did not have food or any other basic needs, the

MVCCs should cater for their needs, which they found to be a daunting task as the
MVCCs members do not have reliable income. Moreover, there is no systematic
obligatory community support. Even in situations where some villages/streets have
agreed to make monthly contributions, most people refuse and some people insult
MVCCs members, which they described as disheartening.

Fourth, MVCCs are exclusively concerned with child social protection issues and,
therefore, generally interpret children’s needs in terms of basic needs; they do not feel
they have mandate over child protection issues. In the identification process, for
instance, there was no provision or criteria for including children who might have
experience or are experiencing problems that need child protection such as child
abuse and child pregnancies. If a child victim is one of the vulnerable children in their
care, then they might be assisted; however, if the child is outside those identified as
vulnerable, MVCCs do not deal with them. In the same conclusion, Ng’ondi (2015:15)
had also noted that “MVCCs lack technical and institutional capacity and sufficient
skills to effectively handle cases of violence against children (and)…are not well
connected to the resourceful Social Welfare Department.”

It is also worth noting that, MVCCs were established in ad hoc manner without the
required effort to institutionalise and capacitate these institutions. MVCCs members’
recounts shows that the common practice of their establishment was a village general
meeting (village assembly) often attended by less than 40 percent of the village
members. In the meeting, there was a brief introduction about the formation of the
committee on voluntary or recommendations basis. Members were identified, then the
committee was there, instituted and endowed with the responsibility of overseeing
issues of vulnerable children. There was also inadequate exploration of key issues
such as the community members’ responsibility in the committee and regarding
vulnerable children. There was also no wide consensus among MVCC members and
sufficient community members’ education and motivation in understanding child
vulnerability issues as well as working with the committees.

Again, despite the notion of voluntary spirit that is supposed to permeate the
committees, it became apparent to me that the members were often motivated by
monetary or material gains and in absence of funding hardly any MVCC was
active. Indeed, most of them are dysfunctional and exist in names only. It was
interesting to note that almost 95 percent of the committees involved in the study were
not active and had not worked on anything or even met as a committee since their
establishment. Most of them met for the first time on invitation to participate in the
study, and some had hitherto worked on ad hoc basis whenever they were called upon
for something specific. Kessy (op cit: 13) note that “the pilot programme included the
provision of financial support to village MVC Funds in villages with MVC Committees.
These funds were intended to provide some support to help with the essential needs of
the MVC, such as shelter, bedding, clothing, health, food, and educational expenses.”
There is strong indication that, this or expectations that there will be donor or
government funding channeled through the committee might have been an incentive
for most individuals’ acceptance to become MVCCs members,

Since MVCCS are not part of the official village governance structure whose term is
governed by the Local Government (District Authorities) Act of 1982 and regional and
local government authorities’ elections, the study was also interested to know term of
the committee. However, it became clear that there is no guidance on the life time of
the existing committee or when, why and how to recruit new committee members. In
case of a death or a committee member shifting, there is no provision on how to
replace them. Also, in case of an unmotivated member, there is no guidance of
addressing that problem. Since village governance structure changes with election or
getting re-elected, I can only speculate that perhaps after their establishment, MVCC
were expected to follow the term of the village councils. However, since there is no
such thing as the ‘MVCCs guide’ to provide for such matters, MVCCs exists as
permanent establishments. This has its downside because there is no sense of
accountability or responsibility.

MVCCs were supposed to be the primary coordinator of all issues that have to do with
vulnerable children’s programmes or initiatives in their respective locality. However,
because of their semi-formal status, they are consistently overlooked, ignored or
bypassed by various interests or initiatives. For example, some NGOs come and use
the village government, and often the village authority does not involve the committees.
As a result, they are usually not aware of the initiatives or activities that are ongoing on
in their localities. Some NGOs use their strategy and people to work directly with
vulnerable children without involving or consulting the MVCCs. However, since hardly
any organization would operate in the village without involving the village government,
in particular the Village Executive Officer (VEO), it means, also village authorities
ignore MVCCs. To make MVCCs effective, it is therefore essential to formally integrate
them in the village governance structure. There is an explicit need to formalise and
empower MVCCs by anchoring them in the structure of the village/street village
governance albeit after refining them to embrace a wider role in gender, community
development and child welfare issues, at the grassroots.

4.5.4 Organized Profession

According to Greenwood (1957:45), a sociological approach perceives a profession as
‘an organized group which is constantly interacting with the society that forms its
matrix, which performs social functions through a network of formal and informal
relationships, and which creates its own subculture requiring adjustments to it as a
prerequisite for career success.” He points out that there are key features which
distinguish and sanctify professions and proposes five such qualities, namely that all
professions seem to possess systematic theory; authority; community sanction; ethical
codes and culture (ibid.); and based on this model, social work is a profession (p.54) 42.
Parsons (1939:457) observed that in modern societies, professions occupy a position

Regardless, I should acknowledge here that there is an ongoing academic debate regarding the
constitution of social work profession, and whether it has adequately established itself as a profession.
See for example, Holosko (2003) The History of the Working Definition of Practice; Flexner (2001) Is
social work a profession, and others.

of uniquely incomparable development and importance; and he was of the view that
many of the most important features of the modern society, relied considerably on the
smooth functioning of the professions. It has also been recognized that, in countries
with the highest quality institutions, organised professionalism has been noted to have
played a pivotal role in institutional development because of the critical role
professionals plays in institutional reforms (Grajzl & Murrell, 2006). They advance that
“strongest organized professions become self-regulating monopolies administering the
use of the specialized body of knowledge through a single set of policies rules, and
standards. Formalization of self-regulation confers quasi-governmental status.” (Grajzl
& Murrell, 2006:253). In this regard, with the organized profession deemed to have
monopoly expertise, its members are usually accorded special status in the institutional
reform processes (ibid.). In the same inclination, Scott, (2008b) recognize
professionals as institutional agents because of their leading role in the creation and
tending of institutions.

“Different professions work in various ways: some attempt to create
general cultural-cognitive frameworks; others to devise normative
prescriptions to guide behavior; and still others to exercise coercive
authority. Also, individual professionals assume varying roles within their
professional community: some concentrate on devising and testing
general principles, others transport these ideas to varying communities;
and still others work to apply the principles to individual cases” (Scott,

It is important to distinguish here that, there is the social welfare division as a
government’s department mandated to address social welfare issues, and organized
profession in the technical sense of the word. It is acknowledged that the Tanzania
Association of Social Workers (TASWO) is the major and only ‘social work’s organized
profession’ organization in the county. In this study, however, the effectiveness of
organised social work profession was highlighted as a critical missing link in the
profession’s taking the leading role in matters of child welfare. With the defunct

organised social work profession43, there is little documentation of case studies and
negligible generation of local based peer reviewed knowledge; this also means that the
practices of both, the public through the SWD and the voluntary sector on CSP and CP
are not adequately researched and understood. The profession is also not in the fore
front in the development of peer reviewed, technically informed and evidence based
guidelines, tools and standard operating procedures on various dimensions of child
welfare issues in the country to provide for practical professional guidance on CSP and
CP and enhance its profile and services in the country.

“I am telling you, if you just Google in the internet, you will find that in
the developing nations, there are almost quarterly or bi-annual social
workers conferences in some countries, or at least regular annual
conferences. These conferences have many uses, making you relevant,
promoting the profession, updating each other, sharing knowledge and
experiences, etc, but in Tanzania, even though we have a Social
Workers Association, it has not been successful in promoting the
profession and social workers at that, so we are one of the sad
professions in the country.” (DSWO 5)

In my opinion, an underdeveloped social work practice as an organised profession has
resulted in lack of ownership of the ‘child welfare agenda’ by the social work practice
and profession, and also absence of consistent recognisable collective efforts, for
pushing and setting up national standards on children’s rights. It has also meant the
absence of a professional national watchdog and advocate for children’s rights, 44 to
join hands with other stakeholders on the ground. It is my observation that, because
social work profession has not profoundly legitimated its mandate and relevance under
the banner of the organized profession, major actors such as the government and the
voluntary agencies, do not feel obliged to consult or involve it in any significant manner.

It should be noted that TASWO is making concerted efforts towards its revival, its first general meeting (AGM)
after many years was held in 2010, and since, two other TASWO’s AGMs have been held, one under the “Social
Work in Tanzania: Making a difference to vulnerable groups” and another under the theme “The Power of Social
Work: Restoring Hope for Vulnerable Groups and Rebuilding Human Connections.”
This is with due respect to voluntary agencies on the ground such as the Tanzania Child Right Forum (TCRF),
Children’s Dignity Forum (CDF) and many others working to advocate and promote child welfare in the country.

To paraphrase Greenwood (1957: 54), social work profession in Tanzania, does not
enjoy maximum prestige, authority and monopoly enjoyed by other top professions.

It is therefore clear that, social work as a profession and as a practice has twin
responsibilities, on one hand providing required services to the immediate needs of its
clients, and on the other engaging in social change (Abramovitz, 1998). In this sense,
regarding child welfare issues, social work as an organised profession is fundamental
in ensuring realisation of legally granted children’s rights and also in advocacy for
reforms in case of failing child welfare systems. In this regard, it is indispensable in
ensuring every child enjoy their legally granted rights, that these rights are upheld by
societal members, respective institutions and all parties that in one way or another
have some responsibility over children; and in case of gaps in provision of these rights,
to have a responsibility to engage in advocacy to ensure that these rights are
enshrined in the respective laws of the country. Ideally, organised professionalism has
access to legal and policy expertise critical in initiatives to improve child welfare, and
for the enhancement of opportunities for children to grow up in safe and stable
permanent homes and safe, positive environments.



5.1 Conclusions

In the preceding discussion, it has also been shown that, in contemporary Tanzania, as
is the case across the rest of Africa and Asia, social-economic transformation and
increasing contact with the West, has resulted into values becoming notably more
individualistic and an individualistic society emerging which is inclined towards nuclear
family in contrast to the traditional African cohesive extended family (Arnett, 2002:776).
It has also been flagged that, the HIV/AIDS scourge has depleted the human and
economic resources and affected communities throughout Africa to the extent that the
potential for extended families to provide care for orphans has been seriously eroded
(Foster, 2000). It has been shown that engraved structural poverty, weakening of
traditional social security systems, inadequate coverage of formal social security
systems, inadequate social policies, and insufficient child welfare programs has meant
weak preventive mechanisms to ensure children do not fall into vulnerability. As a
consequence, it has been argued in this work that, many children in the Tanzania are
vulnerable and many more are at the risk are becoming vulnerable. Despite local and
international voluntary agencies apparently investing resources towards enhancing
children’s wellbeing, the problem is not abating. In this respect, failure to redress
intensifying structural poverty in the country and the continuing incapacity of social
work practice to comprehensively identify, coordinate and timely intervene in issues of
children’s welfare imply that child vulnerability will inevitably worsen fundamentally in
the country.

In the backdrop of the enormity and continual increase of child vulnerability in the
country, it has been shown in this work that Tanzania has made significant progress in
instituting legislations for child protection and child social protection. However, while
relevant national policies acknowledge most child social protection rights, the state has
only partially embraced the challenge of ensuring universal child social protection.

Except for evident efforts to realise universal primary education; determined initiative
by the state to ensure comprehensive child social protection, in other dimensions such
as adequate diet (nutrition), clothing, shelter and right to play are fundamentally
inadequate. From an institutional perspective, however, the major success is observed
in the establishment of rules and regulations, which provides coercive authority to
public institutions overseeing child welfare, and defines children’s rights benchmark for
all stakeholders. For the ‘regulative process’ to be comprehensive, establishment of
rules and regulations need to be complimented by capacity to uphold them. This
involves, the capacity to monitor “others conforming to them, and, as necessary,
manipulate sanctions-rewards or punishments in an attempt to influence future
behaviour” (Scott, 2008:52). This study has shown that there are profound institutional
gaps in terms of the capacity to uphold the legally provided children’s rights. Although
the institutional framework responsible for child protection and child social protection is
present, it is porous and frail in its various levels. At the national level, due to the
blending of social welfare and health in the same ministry, the social welfare division
seem to have been submerged by the immensity of health; at the district level, there is
a huge human and resources inadequacy, and at the ward to the village level there is
total institutional incapacity. MVCCs for instance have little access to training,
resources, or any other support (Kacholi, 2012:12).

This study has also highlighted that though the constitution and respective legislations
and policies provides a benchmark normative element45 for child welfare in the country,
there are persistent cultural practices and established patterns of behaviour which are
inconsistent with the stipulated children’s right. It is in this sense that relationship
between culture and institutions has been recognized to be complex (Fukuyama
2002:25). This experience shows that, while at the national level new values regarding
child welfare have been adopted, at the grassroots the ‘deinstitutionalisation’ of social-
cultural values and practices which are contrary to children’s rights or harmful to
children has not adequately happened. As such, in the Tanzanian child welfare

i.e. “normative rules that introduce a prescriptive, evaluative, and obligatory dimension into social life” (Scott,

context, there is a pervasive incongruity between the Embodied Institutional Paradigm
(EIP) and the Obligatory Institutional Orders (OIO),46 with EIP47 to a significant extent
incompatible with OIO. The adoption of new child welfare values has therefore not
been complimented with their universal institutionalisation at the cultural-cognitive
dimension, and the necessary deinstitutionalization, of the long-held unsanctioned
social-cultural practices and patterns of behavior. Deinstitutionalization refers to a
process by which the legitimacy of established or institutionalized practices erodes or
discontinues (Oliver, 1992: 564); and it occurs when there is a lack of continued
acceptance and understanding of a specific practice and a discontinuity preventing
continuance of that practice (Kondra & Hurst (2009:51). For realisation of universal CP
and CSP, it is essential to harmonise EIPs and OIOs, therefore “contrary to the
emphasis in institutional theory on the cultural persistence and endurance of
institutionalized behaviors” (Oliver, op cit.: 263), this finding highlight also the
significance of institutional theory guided analysis of endogenous and exogenous
deinstitutionalization. Overall, this work has demonstrated that institutional theory has
potential to profoundly contribute in social work practice, as well as in guiding research
and analysis of the social work field.

5.2 Policy Recommendations

A key intention of this work has been to demonstrate that, realisation and protection of
child welfare (i.e. Child Protection and Child Social Protection) is about an efficient and
effective institutional environment. In this regard, it is my opinion that universal CP and
CSP is optimally attained when all stakeholder institutions, be it the family, voluntary
agencies or governmental departments’ and programmes, act timely, fairly, effectively,
and responsibly in the best interest of the child. To ascertain actual realisation of

Embodied Institutional Paradigm (EIP), refers to behavioural patterns inherent or intrinsic to an individual
acquired and nurtured through institutionalisation and cognition; and the Obligatory Institutional Orders (OIO)
refers to relational institutional aspect, i.e. patterns of obligatory relationship between individuals (Garcelon,

In institutional theory EIP essentially constitute the cultural-cognitive element which refers to the “shared

conceptions that constitute the nature of social reality and the frames through which meaning is made” (Scott,

universal child welfare in the country, social work practice and the social welfare
department, need to widen its operational hedge and ensure that the welfare service
delivery model and its monitoring and evaluation system reaches as wide range of
children as possible. Based on institutional gaps identified therefore, some of the key
policy recommendations proposed include:

First, there is need for a review of the essence and rationale for Social Welfare to be
anchored alongside Health one Ministry. It has been voiced variously in the course of
the study that the DSW is functioning as a minor department in the MoHSW because of
the dominance and expansiveness of the Health sector, and therefore it is undermined.
Furthermore, it has been observed that Health and Social Welfare are very distinct
sectors, with differing purposes, targets, needs, approaches, focus and modus
operandi. For that reason, it is very difficult to synchronise the activities of Health and
Social Welfare to ensure that health and social welfare operates effectively in either a
symbiotic or a parallel manner. Under these circumstances, the SWD, apart from
fulfilling some of its most basic functions has little room for realising its full potential .
While it is acknowledged that there are countries such as South Korea, which have a
similar combination, Japan which has the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, the U.
S. which has the department of Health and Human Services, and perhaps many others
juggling in the same inclination; in Tanzania, it appears not to be working to the best
possible operational effectiveness of Social Work Practice. It is recommended that
either, in the same ministry, the status of social welfare be elevated to the level
congruent with its mandate and potential; or to merge Social Welfare with Community
Development, as an independent ministry.

Similarly, there are many governmental and non-governmental institutional actors
engaged in Child Protection and Child Social Protection largely with conflicting
mandate in their roles and responsibilities, which creates a replication of efforts and
activities and often undermines the potential for optimum results in the face of limited
resources. This in many cases leaves serious problems left unaddressed because of

lack of clear institutional anchorage and ownership, the case in point is the observed
confusion and inconsistency in roles and responsibilities between the Social Welfare
Department, Community Development and Gender and Children. There is an
importance of reconciling the divide between social work practice and community
development, with the view to eventually synthesise and consolidate Community
Development and Social Welfare Department. It is an opinion shared by most of the
respondents that the Community Development and Social Work split is primarily a
macro-micro divide, with the former focusing more on the macro and the latter on the
micro dimensions of human and societal wellbeing. To this effect, it has been
observed that “social work’s emphasis on therapy has become so substantial, in fact,
that many of the activities long associated with the profession (such as system reform
work, community organising, advocacy, social activism, community economic
development, and human capital development) are no longer called ‘social work”
(Jacobson, 2001: 52).

Secondly, the currently effective Child Development Policy (1996) needs to be
reviewed and updated with the view to guiding the national strategy towards achieving
universal Child Protection and Child Social Protection, in consideration of the
contemporary and emerging child protection and child social protection challenges.
While we have the Law of the Child Act, of 2009 in place, it is important to specify here
that laws and policies have different functions. Laws explicate compulsory standards,
procedures and principles that must be followed. If a law is not followed, for instance,
those responsible for breaking them can be prosecuted in court. Policies on the other
hand, essentially outlines the vision or aspirations in terms of what the country intends
to achieve and stipulates the methods and principles that will be used to achieve those
policy objectives. In this regard, a policy might identify existing laws which are
consistent with its objectives, and might also need to identify new laws needed to
achieve its goals. Subsequent the review of the Child Development Policy, in the
place of diversified strategies and initiatives, there is the necessity to develop a
consolidated, comprehensive national strategy towards achieving universal CP and
CSP in Tanzania. These measures are necessary in guiding, strategising, systemic

co-ordination and streamlining of interventions, programmes, projects and other
initiatives that have to do with children’s welfare in Tanzania. The absence of this
strategy leaves the gap for stakeholders and initiatives to have a free hand in
programme design, issues prioritisation, and programme/project locality identification
as well as implementation strategy. Without coordinated efforts, the results are going
to be patchy and inconsistent across projects and programmes, with the overall
national effect hardly discernible.

Thirdly, there is need for DSW through the MoHSW; the Ministry of Community
Development, Gender and Children (MCDGC) and PMO-RALG to work together and
digest the need, function, and the mode of operation of MVCCs. If refined, they have a
potential to be an efficient and effective grassroots based institution for Child Welfare.


The key limitation of the research findings and related conclusion is found in the
research design. The study was designed to diagnose the institutional framework for
social practice in Tanzania, with specific reference to issues of child protection and
child social protection, with the intention of assessing identifying and assessing
institutional deficiencies and/or lethargies constraining optimum realisation of
comprehensive universal child welfare in the country. The study design however
focused on the formal social welfare structure and did not give sufficient consideration
to existing and long established (institutionalised) informal, customary, traditional,
cultural and other prevalent social-economic practices which are likely to constrain
attainment of child welfare in the localities of the study, and therefore did not capture
adequately ensuing institutional contradictions. This is highlighted in the findings which
clearly show inconsistency between the nationally prophesied children’s rights, and
practices at the grassroots. This omission was further magnified and aggravated by
wide coverage of the study. The study covered two regions and all its respective
districts, which allowed the research to attain an overview of the situation, but was
incapable of delving deep into the societies. While, the research design intentionally
intended to get a bird’s view; study findings indicate that for optimum realisation of
universal child welfare, majority of individuals, families and communities need to
embrace and own values and practices consistent with stipulated children’s rights.
From an institutional theory perspective, this brings to the fore the question of
institutionalisation and de-institutionalisation of value systems and ways of life
(cultures, traditions and long-held or established social-economic practices).
Therefore, while the study design allowed the identification of which, it did not allow for
collection of sufficient data to shed insightful light on why and how values and
practices inconsistent with children’s rights are sustained in the localities of the study.
For future studies, these are important research gaps, which will illuminate on
strategies for de-institutionalisation of harmful value systems and ways of life and

institutionalisation of those which are more acquiescent to comprehensive child
welfare. While the author has every confidence that the findings reflect much of the
Tanzanian situation, and makes considerable contribution as highlighted in the
‘significance of the study section,’ the reader should nevertheless be mindful of the
research design and objectives of this study when interpreting and applying the
findings, and when reviewing this work.


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