US Congressional Delegation Conducts Learning Mission to Tanzania
17 July 2023
On July 2, 2023, a high-level delegation consisting of members of U.S. Congress, UN Foundation officials, and a representative from the Eleanor Crook Foundation completed a four-day learning mission in Tanzania. The primary goal of this mission was to gain insight into the United Nations' work in the country particularly in the biodiversity and nutrition sectors.
The U.S. Congress members in the delegation were Sydney Kamlager-Dove, (California State Senate-37th), Nannete Barba Diaz Barragan (California's 44th congressional district Representative), Emilia Strong Sykes (Ohio Representative-13th), Edward Espenette Case, (Hawaii's 1st Congressional district) and Madeleine Dean (Pennsylvania's Representative 4th congressional district). The representative from the Eleanor Crook Foundation was Ms. Lesley Webet Mcnitt.
During their visit, the delegation engaged with various stakeholders, including UN country team officials, government officials, NGOs, conservationists, and nutrition experts. Through these interactions, they gained an understanding of how the UN supports the Tanzanian government's efforts to address malnutrition and food security while also promoting sustainable natural resource management and conservation initiatives.
An important part of the mission was at Tungamalenga Village in Idodi Ward, located in the Iringa Region in Southern Tanzania. At Tungamalenga, they witnessed firsthand the implementation of a UN-backed nutrition program that enjoys strong support from both local communities and the Tanzanian government.
The Iringa Regional Commissioner Halima Dendego welcomed the delegation at Tungamalenga and provided an overview of the nutrition challenges facing the region. Despite being among Tanzania's breadbasket regions, Iringa struggles with malnutrition and HIV/AIDS.
The high-level delegation witnessed the Village Health and Nutrition Day where the joint UN Tanzania Nutrition Programme's impact in Tungamalenga, Idodi Ward was evident. Activities such as nutritional screenings, health education, cooking demonstrations, and agricultural interventions were observed. The delegation engaged with local community members, religious leaders, healthcare professionals, and program beneficiaries to gain insights into the successes and challenges faced while addressing malnutrition.
The Acting United Nations Resident Coordinator and UNDP Country Representative Ms. Christine Musisi expressed her gratitude for their interest in Tanzania's development efforts. She stated, "We are so happy to have the delegation of the US Congress members and the UN Foundation with us in Tanzania to see and witness the work of the United Nations in the country. We appreciate the interest of the US Congress in choosing the work of the UN in Tanzania to be the important focus of their learning mission."
The Regional Commissioner highlighted the government's progress in reducing malnutrition rates under the leadership of President Samia Suluhu Hassan. She said, “The government has implemented a Nutrition Programme that employs a multisectoral approach, implemented through the Village Health and Nutrition Days (VHND) to address these issues.”
The government's commitment to nutrition is evident in the alignment of these services with the Nutrition Compact Agreement between the President's Office, Regional Administration, and Local Government Authorities (PORALG) and the National Multi-sectoral Nutrition Action Plan (NMNAP). Data collection is also prioritized.
The Regional Commissioner noted that, “International cooperation plays a crucial role in addressing nutrition-related issues”. Hon. Halima invited the US Congress Delegates, UNF leaders and the representative from Eleanor Crook Foundation to invest in Iringa and support the government in conducting research to find out why malnutrition was still high in the region despite being a breadbasket region in Southern Tanzania.
In Tanzania, the percentage of children under age 5 who are stunted (short for their age) has decreased steadily from 48% in the 1999 Tanzania Demographic Health Survey (TDHS) to 30% in the 2022 TDHS-MIS. However, malnutrition is still inadmissibly high in terms of absolute numbers probably due to population growth. Currently, more than three million children under the age of five years are stunted and with high geographical variations; for example, in the Iringa region stunting increased from 42% in 2015 to 57% in 2022 while in the Mtwara region, stunting declined from 38% in 2015 to 22.30%.
These statistics reveal that malnutrition continues to be a significant issue in Tanzania, affecting children, and women, and contributing to non-communicable diseases.
The Head of the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) in Tanzania, Ms. Nyabenyi TitoTipo, appreciated this visit by the US Congressional Team and elaborated, “the examples we have seen in the village today clearly manifests how the UN is jointly supporting the community, supporting the district and to see, how the community is engaged in trying to address nutrition from the health, food and Agricultural transformation aspect. The unity of the UN system, FAO, UNICEF, UNDP and the Resident Coordinator’s Office to bring the results we want for the people is much appreciated.”
The Head of the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office, Ms. Shabnam Mallick, expressed her thanks to the support of the donors and development partners and also to the government of Tanzania. She explained, “UN agencies in Tanzania work in a coordinated fashion, to amplify a common voice addressing complex interconnected issues such as malnutrition. We are addressing existing gaps while utilizing minimal resources, and the best technical assistance offered by our skilled UN personnel.”
The US Congressional delegation, led by Mr. Peter Yeo, Senior Vice President of the United Nations Foundation, expressed gratitude towards the Tanzanian government and the United Nations for their commitment to global health and development. Mr. Yeo emphasized that such engagements strengthen partnerships between Tanzania and the United States in addressing health challenges and in achieving Sustainable Development Goals.
The US Congress members praised the innovative approach used in UN programs and acknowledged the joint effort between the UN and government to end severe malnutrition and improve food security, health, and biodiversity conservation. They encouraged replicating this approach in other areas facing similar challenges, acknowledging the vital contributions made by local communities and expressed intentions to support through their partners in the country.
The U.S. Congress members also expressed that their learning mission to Tanzania demonstrates the importance of international cooperation and collaborative efforts in tackling pressing global challenges like malnutrition and sustainable development. They shared greetings from the American people and informed that as the delegation returns home to America, they carry with them valuable insights into the UN's work in Tanzania and an appreciation for the complex challenges facing the country's development efforts, promising to assist through the UN and USAID.
Earlier, the US Congressional delegation also received a briefing from the Ruaha National Park Chief Warden Mr. Godwell Men’gataki about conservation and biodiversity measures undertaken by the Tanzanian government in partnership with the United Nations. The delegation heard about UN’s support led by UNDP for anti-poaching efforts in the park. “UN supported the collaring and de-collaring for tracking elephants, provided equipment to improve infrastructure and vehicles for easy transportation within the camp and the equipment is still here today.” The UN also facilitated training and policy reforms to improve conservation efforts.
Members of the US Congress, UNF Leaders and the Eleanor Crook representative all met community leaders participating in Tanzania’s Wildlife Management Areas Program supported by UNDP and the Global Environment Facility (GEF). The US Congressional delegation observed how climate change and human activity were impacting the Great Ruaha River and the wetlands.
In conclusion, Ms. Christine Musisi, The Acting UN Resident Representative and UNDP Representative in Tanzania expressed optimism that the learning mission would lead to stronger partnerships. “We believe that what they have seen in the country is good, it has been successful. They have seen our work in wildlife conservation, biodiversity conservation, and in nutrition. They have had hands-on experience with the communities which I believe has raised their understanding and their passion to really partner with the UN in Tanzania. I look forward to stronger partnerships to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and the Third five-year Development Plan of Tanzania.”
About UN Tanzania:
The United Nations System in Tanzania comprises 23 UN agencies, who work closely with the government and other stakeholders to implement the 2022-2027 United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (UNSDCF) for Tanzania. The Strategic Framework outlines a coherent plan of action and enables a coordinated UN response to contribute more efficiently and effectively to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the national development priorities/goals of the third National Five-Year Development Plan (FYDP III) and the 2021-2026 Zanzibar Development Plan (ZADEP).
About UN Foundation:
The United Nations Foundation is a strategic partner of the United Nations. UN Foundation drives progress and tackles problems. UNF builds communities of support and nurtures initiatives to advance the dignity and well-being of people and the planet. It is headquartered in Washington, DC.
About US Congress:
The United States Congress is the legislature of the federal government of the United States. It is composed of a lower body, the House of Representatives, and an upper body, the Senate. The US Congress enacts laws that influence the daily lives of all Americans and is intended to serve as the voice of the people. Among the core values of the US Congress is pursuing continuous learning and growth of the organization and its human resources to provide the highest quality of service.
About Eleanor Crook Foundation.
The Eleanor Crook Foundation (ECF) was founded in 1997 with a single goal: to eradicate global malnutrition. ECF invests in research that proves what methods work, policy analysis to drive systems reform, and advocacy that makes the case for urgent action to address this global crisis. ECF is an active investor. In 2017, the Foundation pledged $100 million towards the elimination of global malnutrition. https://eleanorcrookfoundation.org/