By Devota Mwachang’a
High levels of fertility and steadily declining child mortality rates have created a youthful population with a high child dependency ratio in Tanzania; Tanzania’s population is largely youthful with about 63 percent of its people under the age of 25 years.
Tanzania- is one of fastest-growing populations in Africa whereby women give birth to an average of six children contributing to the rapid population growth, increased numbers of new students entering school as well as increased number of young people seeking employment.
Speaking to journalists in Dar es Salaam today Tanzania Communication and Development Center (TCDC) Program Manager, James Mlali said high dependency is one of the key factors undermining socioeconomic development in the country.
“Rapid pace of growth affects families and poses burden on Tanzania’s economy and ability to provide social services such as budget prioritization in education, infrastructure, health and agriculture due to that case,” he said.
Nearly 1 in 4 young married women in Tanzania, ages 15 to 19, have a desire to use contraception, but are not currently using any method. Need to enhance accountability at all level and across sectors to ensure effective use of resources especially those directed to reproductive health programs including family planning in order to reduce high dependency burden.
In presenting his paper on Tanzania’s Prospects Towards a Demographic Dividend, Mlali said there is need of specific actions and investments for the country to benefit from its population, particularly the young generation which the is most vulnerable since about 66.9 percent of Tanzania population is dependents.
Tanzania’s dependents are young and old; young dependents from 0-24 years (63 percent) while 65years old and above (3.9 percent), the working population is only 33.1 percent (working without considering type of job, unemployment, underemployment and pay structures).
He said the current situation jeopardizes achievement of vision 2025 that aims to transform Tanzania into a middle-income country by 2025; accentuates poverty due to meagre resources for re-investment.
“When birth rates decline significantly, the age structure shifts to have more working-aged adults, opening a window of opportunity for accelerated economic growth through increased productivity, greater household savings, and less costs on basic social services for children” he said.
He said there is a need to invest in the health sector to ensure a healthy and skilled labor force and prevent deaths from illnesses, the continued trends Tanzania will need to approximately triple the number of health care facilities, primary schools, nurses, and teachers over the next 25 years.
The Demographic Dividend is the economic benefit arising from a significant increase in the ratio of working-aged adults relative to young dependents.