SDGs series #2: Implementing SGDs in Tanzania: Prospects and Challenges

By Flora Kessy, Principal Research Associate, ESRF Tanzania 

Learning from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)

Tanzania domesticated the MDGs through revision of its development plans and poverty reduction strategies. Some goals were particularly influential, in terms of actors' interest and involvement. In general, the goals targeting improvement of education and health were very influential partly because they had deteriorated indicators as a result of the implementation of Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs) but they are also considered necessary for economic transformation. Progress has been made although respective targets have not been met on MDGs 2, 3, 4, and 6. Several challenges hindered successful implementation of MDGs and these should be addressed if SGDs have to be successfully implemented. These include:  
•    Inadequate resources in terms of human capacity and financial resources and equipment to support MDGs interventions. 
•    Poor coordination at both national level (horizontal — among ministries, civil society organizations, and the private sector) and at the local level (vertical — among individuals and government and local government and central government). 
•    Poor mobilization of resources from domestic sources as a result of inadequate engagement of the private sector and low awareness of communities on MDGs and its implementation. 
•    Poor governance especially on management of financial resources and failure to take actions when public resources are mismanaged. 
•    Monitoring progress – lack of up to date data for some indicators and production of too many reports which are not speaking to each other and which are not properly used to inform future planning processes. 

Prioritizing SGDs

SGDs agenda is ambitious, with the aim of eliminating rather than reducing poverty – the “leave no one behind” notion. It has a much wider scope, beyond predominantly “social” goals of MDGs, incorporating more fully aspects of economic and environmental sustainability and aspirations for peaceful and inclusive societies. The following example is used to show the difficulties in attaining the “leave no one behind” ambition. Goal 1 target 1.1 aims at reducing extreme poverty to all people everywhere by 2030. Poverty especially in rural Tanzania has been declining at a very low pace from 40.8% in 1991/92 to 33.3% in 2011/12 (7.5 percentage points decrease for 20 years). Inequalities are also huge with more households moving from poverty in Dar es Salaam (the capital city) than other urban centers, a decline from 28.1% and 28.7% in 1991/92 to 4.2% and 21.7% in 2011/12 respectively. Further, SGDs are too many and overloaded (17 goals, 169 targets and over 300 indicators) and they have to be implemented within the same time span and with more/less the same amount of human and financial resources as those employed during the implementation of MDGs. Thus, Tanzania has to make sequential prioritization and serious resource mobilization from domestic and international sources for its implementation.

Improving productive capacity of the poor: In setting the ball rolling, the country should prioritize SGDs that aim at improving the productive capacities of the poor. Notable ones are those covering agriculture and industrialization. These sectors are pro-poor in the sense that they can employ large population and they have strong forward and backward linkages. Efforts should be made to identify interventions that are of economic or social nature and that have potential for proving decent and productive opportunities. Linking science, technology, innovation and research and development to transform the economy to a competitive one through productivity improvement is also of essence. 

Ensuring quality service delivery: Possible targets here should be linked to health, education, water and sanitation. A strong voice has been heard on the need to focus more on the quality rather than the quantity, especially with regard to health and education. For the water, sanitation and hygiene sector, both quantity and quality issues have to be addressed. The recent outbreak of cholera (disease of poverty) in almost all regions in the country echoes the need to prioritize water, sanitation and hygiene, not only at the household level but also at the institutional level (schools and health facilities).  

Eliminating inequality: Various equity fault lines exist in Tanzania whereby one group is affected than the others in accessing services. Inequalities exist by geography, by social or health status, by age, by gender, by ethnicity, etc. Thus, implementation of SGDs should take into account these equity faulty lines and address them through equitable interventions. In addressing gendered inequalities, there is a need to move beyond eliminating gender gaps in education and employment to consider a wide transformative agenda that is concerned about gender based violence, patriarchal culture over ownership of resources and decision making all of which tend to hinder women‘s progress in human development. 

Promoting sustainable development: Environmental issues have not been seriously taken into consideration in the MDGs but climate change and sustainable development are emerging as serious concerns. Future production capacities will be seriously impacted if the environmental and natural resources are not managed sustainably and thus contain the climate change effects.

Improving governance:  Good governance, an area missed in the MDGs, is a key concern for sustainable development. The current government is keen in promoting good governance in terms of law enforcement, addressing corruption (including tax evasion), and promoting participation and inclusiveness. 

Immediate national actions to deliver the targets

Development of institutional mechanisms for SGDs implementation: Attainment of SGDs will require a strong and effective institutional mechanism involving various stakeholders at various levels including public representatives (central and local), government (executive and legislative), the private sector, civil society organizations, local communities and development partners. 

Integration in the national planning process: Integration of SGDs in the national planning process through national plans, poverty reduction strategies and the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) is of essence. The SGDs have come at the right time when the government is reviewing its two major medium term development plans/strategies (the National Strategy for Growth and Reduction of Poverty and 5 Year Development Plan). 

Mobilization of financial and non-financial resources: Resource mobilization from both international and activating latent domestic sources of funds is crucial. One of these sources is the growing oil and gas sector. Enforcement of policies and tax regulations can also result to more collection from businesses. International Private Public Partnership (PPP) is expected to result to knowledge and technology transfer and market access. 

Investing in good governance:  Promoting the rule of law, accountability (e.g. discipline in spending), inclusive participation, leadership ethics, and strengthening the legal and regulatory framework are important ingredients in the implementation of SGDs. E.g. in mining sector, transfer of technology through international PPP can occur and result to win-win situation if important contracting regulations are effected. 

Investing on developing a monitoring master plan: Development of an elaborate monitoring master plan to be coordinated by the National Bureau of Statistics and that can be fed with data from various should be one of the core components of the implementation plan. The current rapid technological progress should be put into effective use. 


Dhliwayo, R (2016), The Agenda of Sustainable Development: Implementing Challenges for Tanzania, presentation the breakfast meeting organized by the Policy Forum, 29th January 2016, Dar es Salaam.

United Nations (2014), Open Working Group Proposal for Sustainable Development Goals, New York

United Republic of Tanzania (2014), Household Budget Survey, National Bureau of Statistics, Dar es Salaam. 

United Republic of Tanzania (2013), National Post-MDGs Development Agenda Consultations: The National Synthesis Report, President’s Office, Planning Commission, Dar es Salaam.

United Republic of Tanzania, United Nations Development Program, and Economic and Social Research Foundation (2014), Tanzania Human Development Report 2014: Economic Transformation for Human Development, Ministry of Finance, United Nations Development Program, and Economic and Social Research Foundation, Dar es Salaam.