Aid in Tanzania

Foreign aid in Tanzania has produced a number of effects, some positive and some negative, on the economic and political development of Tanzania. The unintended consequences of the deeply dysfunctional aid system that Moss and Moyo write of, can be seen in the aid relationships it has with foreign countries; however, the foreign aid experience of Tanzania can be seen as an exception to this relationship of dependency and negativity.

The political system of Tanzania is largely democratic, which has allowed its civil society to expand and prosper peacefully, making the country attractive to donors. Foreign aid to Tanzania centers around supporting NGOs and human rights, as well as legal reform and media advocacy. In recent years, aid has shifted to being provided in the form of General Budget Support (GBS), which places the development agenda in the hands of the government without restrictions and therefore increasing the likelihood that it will be utilized for other means. Unaudited budget unintentionally supports the practice of vote buying, corruption, and maintaining the political status quo. Although Tanzania is relatively uncorrupt, in terms of governance, it does not mean that having undirected aid is not problematic nor that it would not be used to support the ruling parties political platform and maintenance of power. However, the Tanzanian government is largely accountable for its actions and supports policies aimed at reducing corruption, focusing on their commitment to economic development.

The USAID selected Tanzania as one of the four countries for the “Partnership for Growth” effort, aimed to accelerate and sustain economic growth in countries that have made significant progress in policy and development. The foreign aid plan for the 2017 fiscal year amounts to $573.33 million, with the vast majority of it directed towards improving the health sector, followed by economic development.

Despite Moss and Moyo’s arguments that aid is primarily detrimental to the growth and development of countries in Africa, aid has largely been beneficial for the economic development and improvement of civil society. However, a large part of the success of foreign aid is due to the Tanzanian government’s efficient management of its public finances, which has allowed aid to help improve economic development. (Rotarou). The government has created tools to help manage its budget and to ensure effective bureaucratic spending, all aimed to minimize inefficient allocation of resources and to increase accountability to eliminate corruption. Tanzania is perhaps an exception to the detrimental effects of aid that the authors discuss; however, the government itself is largely responsible for ensuring that foreign aid does not promote corrupt economic practices. Moss presents Botswana as an exception to the argument that recipient governments mismanage foreign aid to secure political or private gain (137), and Tanzania is similarly an exception. However, Tanzania does still have a dependency on foreign aid, and relies on it to help boost its health, education, and agricultural sectors to reduce the rampant poverty that does still exist, particularly in rural areas.

Although there are certainly negative and unintended consequences that come with the provision of foreign aid to countries that remain economically and politically weak, it is problematic to generalize all countries as corrupt, or mismanaging finances for private gain and entrenching the current political status quo. Tanzania’s experiences with foreign aid contrast with those of many other African countries, due to its stable political situation and steady economic development, which allows it to have increased opportunities for investment and trading, in addition to its continued receipt of aid from donors.

Foreign Aid and Economic Development: Tanzania’s Experience with ODA (Elena Rotarou and Kazuhiro Ueta).

Moss, Todd. “Chapter 8. The International Aid System.”

Moyo, Dambisa. “1. The Myth of Aid” (pages 3 – 11); “4. The Silent Killer of Growth”.

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