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Title: African studies quarterly
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Title: African studies quarterly
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Publisher: University of Florida, Center for African Studies,
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Publication Date: 1997
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Table of Contents
    Editorial staff
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        Page ii
    Table of Contents
        Table of Contents
    Justice administration outside the ordinary courts of law in mainland Tanzania: The case tribunals in Babati District
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    Economic reforms and health conditions of urban poor in Tanzania
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    Book reviews
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Full Text

African Studies Quarterly

Volume 1, Issue 2

Special Issue


Published by the Center for African Studies, University of Florida

ISSN: 2152-2448

African Studies Quarterly

Editorial Staff

Michael Chege
Carol Lauriault
Errol Henderson
Kriston Jacobson
Chris Johnson
Andy Lyons
Richard Marcus
Victoria Michener
Janet Puhalla

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 1, Issue 2 I 1997

University of Florida Board of Trustees, a public corporation of the State of Florida; permission is hereby granted for
individuals to download articles for their own personal use. Published by the Center for African Studies, University of Florida.

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 1, Issue 2 I 1997

Table of Contents

Justice Administration Outside the Ordinary Courts of Law in Mainland Tanzania: The Case
of Ward Tribunals in Babati District
Yusufu Q. Lawi (1-18)

Economic Reforms And Health Conditions Of The Urban Poor In Tanzania
Joe L. P. Lugalla (19-37)

Book Reviews

Transgressing Boundaries: New Directions in the Study of Culture in Africa. Edited by
Brenda Cooper and Andrew Steyn. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press. 1996. 226 pp.
Kristen Jacobson (39-41)

Changing The Rules: The Politics of Liberalization and the Urban Informal Economy in
Tanzania. Aili Mari Tripp. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 1997. 260 pp.
Christopher Johnson (41-43)

Africans: The History of a Continent. John Iliffe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
1995. 323 pp.
Jonathan Walz (43-45)

At Issue

Governing Conservation Change From Below. A reaction to "Africa's Environment: The
Final Frontier, Hearing Before the Subcommittee on Africa of the Committee on International
Relations House of Representatives, One Hundred Fourth Congress, Second Session, July 17,
Richard R. Marcus (45-49)

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 1, Issue 2 I 1997

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 1, Issue 2 I 1997

Justice Administration Outside The Ordinary Courts of Law in
Mainland Tanzania: The Case of Ward Tribunals in Babati




Since colonial days, justice administration in what is now mainland Tanzania, has
invariably involved arbitral procedures alongside the more court-based litigation process. The
British colonial government in Tanzania (then Tanganyika) systematized and put in place a
system of customary arbitration which, although distinct, formed part of the colonial legal
system. At first the post-colonial state adopted this system without any alteration, but in 1969 a
statutory provision was made for the creation of a more formal and village-based structure
known as the Arbitration Tribunals (1969). In 1985, a parliament Act (no. 7 of 1985) replaced
these with more formalized and regularized organs called the Ward Tribunals. In contrast to the
Arbitration Tribunals, the latter organs are based in wards and are meant to function under the
overall control of the district-based local government authorities.
This act clearly states that these organs ought to function primarily through mediation and
arbitration, as opposed to litigation (Sec. 8). As such, they would achieve justice at the local
community level through amicable settlement of disputes and, in this way, enhance the spirit of
reconciliation and understanding among community members (Msekwa, 1977: 111). On the
other hand, it is well documented that the Tribunals also were established to relieve the primary
courts of their increasing work load. It follows that they were meant to supplement rather than
replace the ordinary courts of law at the lowest level (Msekwa, 1977: 111).
It would be worthwhile to note that the establishment of the Ward Tribunals took pace at a
time when the central government had decided to consolidate and revitalize local governance.
Some lip service had been paid to giving power to the people to determine their own affairs
since the early days of independence, but actual practice largely contradicted the often neatly
presented manifestos in this regard (Ngware and Haule, 1993: 6). The re-establishment of the
local government system in 1984, after it had been abolished in 1967, was officially explained as
aiming at enhancing popular participation in development efforts (Meshack, 1991: 6).
The newly established local government system encompassed a network of administrative
structures and institutions. At times these local governance structures and institutions, which
include district/town councils and village governments and cooperative unions, have been
coordinated by a full fledged ministry. However, more often they have worked under the
umbrella of the Prime Minister's office.


University of Florida Board of Trustees, a public corporation of the State of Florida; permission is hereby granted for individuals
to download articles for their own personal use. Published by the Center for African Studies, University of Florida.
ISSN: 2152-2448

2 I Lawi

Ward Tribunals were to function as part of the Ward Committees (Sec. 24[3]) which,
together with village governments, work under the direction of district councils. Taking the
Ward as an administrative unit, the above sketched structural and institutional arrangement
presents some degree of conformity to the modern ideal of separation of powers in governance.
While the functional government officials at the Ward level (headed by the Ward Executive
Officer) clearly discharge executive duties, and while the Ward Committee in liaison with the
District Council performs functions close to those of the legislature in nature, the Ward
Tribunals' functions, as specified by law, are essentially judicial.

The Problem: Broad Concerns

The combination of the goals and intentions for the establishment of the Ward Tribunals,
together with the statutory specification of their functions, jurisdiction, and powers, raises a
number of questions which are general as well as specific in character. On one hand, there is an
obvious need to appraise the performance of the Tribunals on the basis of their stated aims and
objectives. In view of the goals stated above, one question, therefore, has to do with the extent to
which these organs have been effective in achieving justice through their mediation and
reconciliation activities. Another obvious question is whether the Tribunals have had a notable
impact with regard to easing the primary courts' work pressure. At a more general level it is
imperative to consider the question whether justice may be achieved through the
implementation of the stated goals and working principles of the Ward Tribunals. The
Presidential Commission, which recommended the establishment of these organs, envisaged
that they would be reconciliatory, flexible, informal, and sensitive to local culture in their
functioning (Msekwa, 1977: 111 [116]). These principles were resounded by the Act establishing
the Tribunals. The question, therefore, is whether the implementation of these principles would
insure justice to everyone in the context of rural Tanzania in the 1990s.

Specific Questions and Assumptions

The present study was conceived and designed in the light of the foregoing concerns.
Based on one of the administrative districts in the country, namely Babati, the study set out to
address concurrently the questions outlined above. To start with, the basic questions were
expanded and categorized into three sets.
The first consisted of questions concerning the composition of the Tribunals in terms of the
socio-economic status of their members and leadership. These questions were posed with a
view toward establishing whether or not such a composition in each respective Ward can allow
justice to prevail in the Tribunals' handling of disputes. The assumption to be tested in this
regard was that, given the increasing pace of differentiation among rural dwellers in Tanzania,
the Tribunals may easily be dominated by the well-to-do and relatively more powerful people.
The relevant questions inevitably touched on the kinds of people who characteristically tended
to be put on the Tribunals, how they are selected, the characteristic socio-economic status of the
Tribunal leadership, how the latter are appointed, and the powers they enjoy when discharging
their duties.

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Justice Administration Outside the Ordinary Courts of Law in Mainland Tanzania I 3

The second set of questions concerned the manner in which disputes characteristically find
their way into the Ward Tribunals. The basic objective was to know whether or not people
willingly and freely decide to take their disputes to the Tribunals. The assumption underlying
this concern was that, under the conditions of possible corruption in the Tribunals, poor people
could have been victims of rich individuals' intrigues to have them accept mediation of Ward
Tribunals for the purpose of insuring favorable settlement of disputes in their favor. The
questions in this set, therefore, sought evidence of interception of individual disputants' will to
have the disputes handled either by the primary courts or by Ward Tribunals. Additionally,
they sought to establish whether or not there was any association between socio-economic
status of disputants and their choice of an organ to settle a dispute.
Lastly, a series of questions were raised concerning the actual work of the Ward Tribunals.
Here, too, the primary objective has been to establish whether or not justice in its broad sense
was being upheld in the manner in which they actually settled disputes. The major concern here
has been to know how the conciliatory functions of the Ward Tribunals are carried out, and
whether the Tribunals have been consistent in this respect. The worry, and the hypothesis to be
tested, was that since the law guiding the functioning of the Tribunals allows plenty of roam for
discretionary decisions, on the part of the Tribunals, the Tribunal leadership would be
corrupted into using that discretionary power by influential and powerful people against the
interests of the powerless poor. It thus was considered appropriate and necessary to examine
how disputes were being received by Tribunals' leadership, how the Tribunals conducted
themselves in settling disputes, whether enough time was provided for each of the disputants
to give their side of the story, whether evidence is consistently called for (or otherwise), whether
or not reference is made to any set of laws/regulations consistently, and whether final decisions
were based on the principles of litigation or, conversely, those of reconciliation.

Theoretical Perspectives

Justice administration as an area of inquiry attracts the attention of not only lawyers and
specialists in public administration but also that of social historians, sociologists, social
psychologists, as well as of moral philosophers. The present study was conceived from the
point of view of social science in general. Thus, while it avoids the technical specifications of the
relevant individual disciplines, it draws on theoretical perspectives from them. It is, therefore,
through an interdisciplinary approach that the basic concepts and theoretical concerns in the
present study are understood and defined. In a nutshell, the basic theoretical issues which shall
now be discussed include the concepts of justice and arbitration, and the whole phenomenon of
justice administration in the wider context of the people-government relationship.
Our first concept, justice, is an extremely controversial one. Even in ordinary discourse
people hardly refer to the same thing when they mention the word. Philosopher Chaim
Perelman's analysis is instructive in putting the various contradictory conceptions in
perspective. For him there are two possibilities of understanding or conceptualizing justice, the
distinction being underlined by the assumed meaning of equality in each case. Accordingly,
justice may either mean giving "to each the same thing," or giving "to each according to some
distinguishing particularities," such as merit, need, rank, and legal entitlement (1963: 7).

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4 I Lawi

Whereas in the former case universal or perfect equality is assumed, in the latter case, equal
treatment goes only with specified criteria of equality among, or between individuals.
Perelman's conceptualization of justice is obviously informed by two distinct historical
contexts, which our modern minds have experienced either directly or through cultural
transmission from past generations. The first context is that of an undifferentiated egalitarian
society of the past, in which prevailed egalitarian ethical values, attitudes, and ideas. It is in this
context that justice and fairness can possibly be conceived as giving to each the same thing. Our
modem society, founded on private property and characterized by social and economic
stratification, provides the context in which the notion of justice as giving to each according to
certain qualifications makes sense.
The point being made is that what we now call justice has meant different things in
different historical epochs in different places. In the context of European history, for example, it
has clearly been shown that conceptions of justice have radically changed as societies
transformed from primitive communal through feudal to capitalist order (Miller, 1976: 253-335).
According to the available literature, whereas in primitive communal societies justice was
hardly a virtue (the main virtues being generosity and sociability), in feudal societies it gained
top importance, generally being understood as observance of, or respect for, established
differentiated rights. In the advanced capitalist society, justice came to be understood primarily
as requitall of deserts" or giving to people what they deserve.
One can easily see that this latter conception belongs to the second of Perelman's two
possibilities as outlined above. The basic distinguishing particularity in this case is "deserts,"
hence the dictum "to each his due" (Miller, 1976: 20). In our contemporary setting what is due to
a person in a particular situation is often specified by relevant laws, regulations or norms.
Needless to say that these laws and regulations are usually expressions of certain ethical and
political values, not always shared by all the people in the respective society. It should also be
noted that since judicial systems do not always provide all the required rules to the fine details,
those entrusted with justice administration have often had to use their own discretion. Here,
too, fairness in judgement is always gauged to certain values in the respective society, often
those of the dominant political and cultural groups.
In view of the variability of the sense of justice with changes in social circumstances, it is
obvious that a realistic universal and all-time definition of justice is not tenable. Accordingly, in
this study, justice is considered to be a social construct that is transformatory in nature. The
basic tenets of justice, as conceived here, are presented in Fuller's definition, which states that
justice involves "regulating with fairness and equity the relation of men in common to improve
their coexistence" (Lloyd and Freeman, 1987: 62). The necessary addition to be made, however,
is that the stated criteria of justice, that is fairness and equity, are in each case determined by the
social values and conceptions which enjoy a position of influence and power in the respective
This brings us to the second concept, arbitration. Simply defined, the term refers to
processes involved in settling disputes without necessarily making recourse to law or any other
established rules and regulations (Rowland, 1988: 1). In practice the process may take place in
law courts (a process called statutory arbitration), as an alternative to litigation, or it may
consist in the settlement of disputes in private. In both cases arbitration involves a process of

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Justice Administration Outside the Ordinary Courts of Law in Mainland Tanzania I 5

conciliation, which consists in devising terms that are acceptable to both parties, normally
under mediation of a commonly accepted third party (Rowland, 1988: 13).
Mention has already been made of the fact that the Tanzanian Ward Tribunals were meant
to follow the principle of conciliation in their functioning. It is notable, however, that these
Tribunals are legally established, and that the act establishing them gives broad guidelines for
their operation. Furthermore, they are required by law to operate in public. This is to say that
their activity fits the designation of statutory arbitration, as opposed to arbitration in private.
The question with which we are centrally concerned is how the concept of justice as
outlined above relates to the process of arbitration as defined here, and whether the former
virtue can be achieved through the latter process. It will have become clear from the above
exposition that justice does not necessarily consist of adherence to established rules and
regulations. On the contrary, it refers to socially determined fairness and the equity of human
affairs in a particular society. On the other hand, given that established laws and regulations are
normally expressions of the values of only a section of the society, adherence to them may not
necessarily result in justice to all the people involved. The vital therefore, point, is that the
handling of disputes outside the ordinary courts of law is in itself not an indication of whether
justice will or will not prevail. Hence, to the dictum "where law ends tyranny begins" Keneth
Davis (1968: 3), has added that this could, but need not be, the case.
Justice administration, the process by which conflicting interests are reconciled using the
principles of fairness and equity, historically has been both a judicial and governmental-
administrative function. Even though in modern society this function is assigned to the
judiciary, which in principle ought to work independently from the executive arm of the state
(i.e., the government), in practice it has been part and parcel of government administrative
functions. Accordingly, the nature and functioning of the Tanzanian Ward Tribunals has to be
understood in the light of the mission and administrative role of the government. Like the
British Administrative Tribunals, after which they have mainly been styled, the Tanzanian
Ward Tribunals are primarily a part of the administrative system. This is clear first of all in
regard to their historical roots, which are quite clearly traceable to the British colonial
administration system. In Tanganyika, as elsewhere in their colonial empire, the British used
their so called indirect rule principle to maintain or create customary courts to operate at the
bottom of the judiciary system. As mentioned earlier the Ward Tribunals were a modification of
the customary courts, left in place by the colonial government. The purported primary aim of
both institutions was to control ordinary social strife at the local community level for the
purpose of keeping peace and tranquility by the cheapest possible means (Msekwa, 1977: iii;
Farmer, 1974: xi).
Moreover, it is quite clear that the Ward Tribunals were intended to be an organ of the local
government in the respective government administrative districts. This is evidenced by the fact
that, although the Tribunals are supervised by the primary courts, they are responsible to, and
are directly controlled by, the local government authorities. Furthermore, in accordance with
the provisions of the act (Section 8[3]), Ward Tribunals have often been used by village and
Ward government authorities to enforce certain regulations relating to social and economic

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6 I Lawi

I have already expressed skepticism about the capability of the Ward Tribunals to
consistently observe justice in their functioning, despite possible corruption resulting from the
rural socio-economic context of our day in Tanzania. The above illustrated statutory sanctioning
of local governments' direct control over Tribunals poses an equally profound doubt. For
instance, when it is known that the Tribunal leadership and membership are both directly
determined by the local government authorities, the possibility of having suitable people
occupy these positions will depend on the nature of the local governing regime in place.
Additionally, given that the Tribunals would often be used to resolve conflicts arising from
people-government relationships, there is a high likelihood that the Tribunals will do injustice
to ordinary common people in favor of possible unpopular government interests. It is on the
basis of these concerns, doubts and assumptions, and the ones stated in the previous section,
that the present study was conceived.

Presentation and Discussion of Data: The Sample, Data Sources, and Methods

The data to be presented and discussed come from four sample wards selected from Babati
district in north central Tanzania. These wards are Magugu, Babati, Madunga, and Dareda. The
data was generated through the use of a questionnaire administered to people whose disputes
were handled by Ward Tribunals between 1990 and 1993. In each sample Ward, twenty five
disputants were selected to constitute the sample population. Additionally, an interview
protocol/schedule was used to guide interviews with Tribunal leaders and members. The third
source of data was direct observation, in which a total of ten Tribunal sessions were observed.
Data Presentation and Analysis: The study first considered the general question as to how
often the Tribunals were involved in dispute settlement and what sort of disputes they settled.
The basic information from these questions is summarized in Table 1 below.

Table 1:Number and Categories of Disputes Handled by Ward Tribunals by Wards, 1991- 1992

1991 1992 19911992 CIVIL CRIMINAL
MAGUGU 17 25 93 21 42 114
BABATI 7 11 49 31 18 80
MADUNGA 21 21 8 7 42 15
DAREDA 24 27 18 10 52 28

It is clear from the table that the number of cases dealt with by the Tribunals widely varies
between the two years as well as across the wards. The scope of the available data does not
allow any attempt to explain this high rate of fluctuation.
A further observation to be made is that whereas the Babati Tribunal (which caters to a
semi- urban population) recorded a bigger number of criminal cases than civil ones, the
opposite is true for the typically rural Madunga and Dareda Tribunals. This rural-urban

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Justice Administration Outside the Ordinary Courts of Law in Mainland Tanzania I 7

contrast however, is not supported by the recorded figures for Magugu Tribunal, which also
caters to a rural population. Upon further inquiry it has been established that the number of
criminal cases handled by the Magugu Tribunal during 1991 were inflated by an occasional
event. During the year the local government launched a special environmental health campaign,
which involved identifying people who did not have pit latrines near their houses and taking
them to the Tribunal. These people were eventually fined. The significance of this story is that
88 out of 93 criminal cases handled by Magugu Tribunal during 1991 were directly linked to the
campaign in question. If these cases are excluded, the total number of criminal cases handled by
the Magugu Tribunal drops from 114 to 24 during this two-year period. This makes Magugu
comparable to Madunga and Dareda in terms of the frequency of criminal cases, thus making
the rural-urban contrast in this regard to hold in general.
The explanation for this disparity falls outside the main thrust of the present study, but it
can be stated, in passing, that differences in terms of social dynamics between the two
geographical locations seem to explain the difference in the frequency of criminal and civil
disputes. Whereas disputes in the rural setting seem to revolve mainly around land-related
conflicts (usually categorized as civil), in the semi-urban setting ordinary social strife (e.g.,
abusive language, threatening statements, all categorized as criminal) seem to dominate.
A brief analysis of the cases brought to the Tribunals shows that those categorized as
criminal cases ranged from abusive language or threatening statements, and contravention of
social and economic regulations to actual assaults and related violent acts. The cases which
were classified as civil ranged from land disputes, claims of unpaid bridewealth and
unreturned borrowed property, to conflicts arising from issues such as broken or troubled
marriages, division of property among divorced couples, and claims of neglect by a husband.
Coming to the main thrust of the study, one major question raised had to do with the
composition of the Ward Tribunals in terms of the social status of their members and leaders.
The findings show that the Tribunal activities in each Ward were coordinated by a chairman
and a secretary. While in all cases the chairman was a man aged between fifty and seventy years
old, the secretary was always a young man aged between twenty-five and thirty-seven years. A
quick survey of records revealed that the two top positions were invariably occupied by men in
all the wards in the entire district, at least until the time of research.
Also, in all the cases, the chairman was a fairly well-known person in the respective Ward.
He would have an average or slightly above average income, with some record of public
involvement, such as being a primary court advisor, a party (CCM/TANU) leader, or a retired
civil servant. Formal education does not seem to have been a consideration when selecting the
chairman. This follows from the fact that in one case the chairman had gone only through adult
literacy classes, while in two cases, he had ended only at the fourth grade level. Only in one of
the four sample wards was the chairman educated to the eighth grade. The secretary, on the
other hand, was always an ordinary employee of the local government, often a class seven
leaver. If at all, he would have acquired some degree of social recognition only through his
functioning as the chief coordinator of the Tribunal activities.
Apart from the chairman and secretary, each Tribunal consisted of four members, all
selected by the Ward Development Committee from within the respective Ward. (The act
provides for the selection of up to five members.) In all except one of the wards under study,

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8 I Lawi

Tribunal members were all males. Curiously, the single female member was located at the
Babati suburban Tribunal. The age of the members range from thirty to eighty years, with 75
percent falling in the forty-five to sixty- five age range. Levels of formal education among the
Tribunal members range from zero to eight years of schooling. All the sixteen members
identified themselves as peasant farmers. Further investigation, however, revealed that one of
them was also a night watchman, while two were government pensioners. Regarding
relationship to influential institutions, one member identified himself as a church elder, one
revealed that he is from the influential "rain- making" (Manda) clan, while one identified
himself as a religious teacher (Maalim).
It follows from this description that, except for very few and insignificant deviations, the
Tribunal leaders and members were usually ordinary people relative to their respective social
contexts; But it is also true that the Ward Tribunal, at least in the study area, is a male-
dominated institution. This point must be considered together with the fact that women are not
a minority group in Tanzania and, above all, that most of the disputes handled by the Tribunals
involved nearly just as many men as women.
Moreover, the Tribunals seem to exclude the younger generations from their membership.
The significance of this observation concerning the age of the bulk of the Tribunal membership
lies in the fact that in Tanzania life expectancy, at the moment, hardly exceeds fifty years, and
that a larger proportion of adult population are below forty years of age. Judging by the age
criterion, therefore, it would seem that the Tribunals are a minority-based institution. Two
further points should be stressed in relation to this tendency. The first is the fact that Tribunal
members in every Ward are appointed by the Ward Development Committee, itself an elitist
and bureaucratic organ. Secondly, it is evident that the bulk of the disputes coming to the
Tribunals involve young adults.
Overall, the above exposition indicates that, although by the criterion of class character
there seems to be no ground for supposing that the Tribunals would inevitably favor
individuals belonging to certain socio-economic groups or strata, when age and sex status are
considered, such a skepticism becomes meaningful. It must be emphasized that in the context of
rural Tanzania, where class divisions are not as yet clearly manifest, age and sex identities play
a greater role in social interactions more often than generally recognized. In Babati, for example,
the rural communities are still predominantly patriarchal, in the sense that it is largely the
interests of male elders which dominate. Although ideologically these interests present
themselves as the interests of the entire community, in practice it is often clear that they
contradict those of women and the younger generations. One can conclude, therefore, that the
composition of the Ward Tribunals clearly reproduces the dominant social relations in the rural
society which, as pointed out above, are not particularly democratic.
One should stress, however, that while these findings confirm the doubts expressed above
concerning the composition of the Tribunal membership and leadership, they do not provide
any grounds for suggesting that the Tribunals have actually been doing injustice to members of
the social groups that are not so well represented in them.
The second area of inquiry is the manner in which disputes find their way into the Ward
Tribunals with a view toward uncovering possible intervening forces. Some of the available
data on this question are summarized in Table 2 below.

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Justice Administration Outside the Ordinary Courts of Law in Mainland Tanzania I 9

Table 2:Manner of Arrival of Disputes at the Tribunal Offices, by Wards (nb: Sample population
for each Ward was 25 people)

W.T P.O. G.O. O.C OD 0 O.C O.D P.O G.0
MAGUGU 5 9 11 15 7 3 11 3 1 5
BABATI 2 18 5 20 4 1 4 1 12 6
MADUNGA 1 10 5 19 6 0 10 0 2 3
DAREDA 9 12 4 21 4 9 2 2 5
TOTAL 26 49 25 75 21 4 34 6 17 19
KEY: W.T. = Ward Tribunal, P.O. = Party Organ, G.O. = Government Official, O.C. = Original
Complaints, O.D. = Original Defendant
The table shows that while some disputes came directly to the Ward Tribunals (26 percent),
a larger proportion (74 percent) were handled either by party organs or government officials in
the first instance. There is a clear indication in people's thoughts that Ward Tribunals are
considered by many as an appeal institution, where cases unsatisfactorily handled by lower
organs, that is the party ten-cell and village leadership, as well as functional government
officials, are taken. It is worth noting in this connection that of the 76 cases transferred to Ward
Tribunals from other organs, the transfer decision was taken by the original complainants or
defendants in forty cases (52.6 percent), and by the party organs or government officials in
thirty-six (47.3 percent). It is also known that quite a few cases came to the Tribunals after they
had been handled by elders in the respective localities.
The table also shows that most of the disputes (96 percent) were brought to the Tribunals
by the initial complainants or defendants, rather than by party or government officials (4
percent). It should be noted, however, that the indicated proportion of cases brought to the
Tribunals by government officials is sometimes largely exceeded, as evidenced by the data for
Magugu during 1991. Yet, given the trends in Magugu during 1990 and 1991, as well as in the
other sample wards, the statistics given here seem to approximate the reality under normal
Additionally, twenty-six of the disputants who brought their cases directly to the Ward
Tribunals (24 percent) confessed that they did so largely because of advice they received either
from relatives and friends or from government or party officials. There is no indication,
however, of any intrigues or ulterior motives behind such advice. On the other hand, the cases
that first passed through other organs are usually transferred to the Ward Tribunals on one of
the three grounds given below.
The first is a failure of the organ to satisfy the initial complainant to the extent that the
latter finds it necessary to try elsewhere for justice. The second is the failure of disputants to
come to compromise and agree to settle a matter informally before a party organ (Ten-cell
leader or Village Party chairperson/secretary) or government official. In such a situation, the
organ in question finds it necessary to transfer the case to a Ward Tribunal, as the latter

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10 I Lawi

institution is generally understood to have a higher capacity for dealing with ordinary disputes.
Finally is the fact that often the initial arbitrating organ finds a dispute demanding a
determination of guilt or innocence and thus requiring the use of compulsive judicial powers.
The Ward Tribunals have clearly been imitating the ordinary courts of law in this respect.
Whatever the circumstances, it seems there are very few instances of extreme belief that the
Tribunals would not do justice to any of the disputants. An exception to this could be the
occasions when people are rounded up en masse and taken to a Ward Tribunal, for example, on
account of failure to participate in some community work. In these situations, individual people
normally have their specific explanations as to why they failed to turn up. A blanket treatment,
even the mere apprehension and submission to the Ward Tribunal, may thus have rightly been
conceived as an act of injustice. Nevertheless, a vast majority of the people covered by this
study (93.3 percent) indicated that they were quite willing to have their disputes handled by
Ward Tribunals.
People bringing their disputes to the Ward Tribunals are of diverse socio-economic status.
For those covered by this study, ages range from twenty-two to seventy-nine years. Cursory
observation shows that respondents are almost evenly distributed between ages twenty-two
and sixty, after which the number sharply declines. One interpretation of this picture is that age
is not a factor to consider when people decide where to take their disputes for settlement. The
sharp decline of cases after age sixty seems to be associated with the fact that few people
survive beyond sixty years of age, and that those who survive will normally have markedly
reduced public involvement.
A different picture emerges when one considers occupation, income levels, and formal
education. All except five of the 100 disputants covered by this study were ordinary peasant
farmers. Two of the five exceptions were Ward executive officers (who were in the Tribunal
accusing a group of villagers for failure to pay development levies), or participating in a
communal work; one was secretary to a primary cooperative society, one was a former clerk,
and one was a town-based night watchman. Furthermore, 34.5 percent of the respondents had a
standard seven education, while the remaining 65.5 percent had at most attended functional
literacy classes. Regarding income levels, a narrow variation from low to medium status was
observed. (This classification was determined by estimating the position of an individual in
terms of wealth within the Ward community, based on annual farm production, number of
livestock owned, and number of dependents).
This pattern of distribution excludes the higher stratum of the society. In particular it does
not include businessmen in Babati township, the above-average peasant farmers in the villages,
the whole bureaucratic clique at the District Headquarters in Babati, as well as the government
functionaries located in wards and villages, the professional groups like doctors, nurses,
teachers, veterinary and agriculture extension officers, and religious elites, such as teachers,
priests, and bishops. One of the cases observed in Babati involved a local sheikh and a religious
teacher (Maalim) but the handling of the case was so distinctively cautious that one could easily
tell the case was an unusual one.
This casts doubt on the universal relevance of the Ward Tribunals among the respective
local communities. It is quite clear that, while many common people have found these
institutions relevant and useful, those in the upper stratum do not seem to consider them

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Justice Administration Outside the Ordinary Courts of Law in Mainland Tanzania I 11

particularly relevant. In a sense this contradicts my initial hypothesis, that powerful and
influential people would be using Tribunals as a cover-up mechanism when pursuing their
interests against the rights of the poor and ignorant people. What we realize in these findings is
that this category of people have not been using the Ward Tribunals to settle disputes among
themselves, or between them and people from the middle and lower strata. The initial
hypothesis, therefore, is not ascertained by the generated data.
One can contemplate possible explanations for this conspicuous disinterest of people from
the upper stratum of society. It may have to do with the nature of dominant disputes in which
people in this category are involved. It may be that the bulk of these disputes lie outside the
jurisdiction of Ward Tribunals. It is notable that, according to the Act, the Tribunals have no
power to imprison persons without the endorsement of the respective primary courts (Sec.
10[2]), and that they cannot impose fines exceeding T. Shs. 3,000 for civil matters and T. Shs.
2,000 for criminal mattes (Sec. 10[3]). The second possibility is that the well-to-do people may
have found procedures followed in Ward Tribunals to be rather degrading, possibly so much so
that they would rather settle their disputes in private. When it becomes necessary to seek legal
justice, they would rather go to the ordinary courts of law. Additionally, given the socio-
economic and educational status of the members and leaders of the Tribunals, most of the
people in this group must have found them inconsistent with their status. This latter attitude
has been fully confirmed by a cross-sectional post- research survey conducted in Babati among
government bureaucrats and businessmen. Yet, further inquiries are necessary to ascertain or
refute these guesses.
The fact that many common people have found the Ward Tribunals relevant is an
indication that these institutions may be ranking higher than others dealing with justice. This is
confirmed by responses to the question as to which institution would rank the highest as far as
fairness in justice administration is concerned. Responses are shown in Table 3 below.

Table 3: Frequency Distribution of Responses to the Question: Which of the Given Five
Institutions (ranked Highest in Terms of Being Just and Fair When Involved in Dispute

IParty Organs |Ward Tribunal Primary Courts lVillage Elders Religious Elders Total
Numerical 4 27 15 8 21 75
IPercentage 5.3 36 20 10.7 28 100

A cursory examination of the frequency distribution shows that Ward Tribunals rank
highest, followed by religious leaders, and primary courts. To ascertain the reliability of these
findings, the question "if you had a dispute with another person where would you present your
case for resolution" was asked of a randomly selected group of respondents in Dareda Mission
area. Of the 50 respondents, 29 (58 percent) mentioned "Ward Tribunals," (30 percent)
mentioned "court" and 6 (17 percent) mentioned "village/clan elders." Needless to say, these
results confirm the leading role of the Ward Tribunals as far as ordinary people's opinion is

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12 I Lawi

Contrary to the initial hypothesis, Ward Tribunals happen to be quite popular among the
common people, both in villages and townships. Explanations given by those who ranked this
institution the highest militate around two points. The first is that they are placed in every
administrative Ward and are within easy reach of the people. This argument was made with
regard to both distance and approachability of the functionaries, particularly the Tribunal
secretaries. The second concerns the procedure followed when handling disputes. Most
explanations contrasted Ward Tribunals with the primary courts, which were characterized by
most people as too strict, apprehensive and unpredictable. Many respondents showed distrust
of the primary courts because they are too technical, and because disputants failed to follow
argumentation and justification often given by magistrates before delivering a ruling.
The final area of inquiry was the manner in which disputes were actually handled by the
Ward Tribunals. The purpose was to establish whether or not the procedures most often used
insured justice. The basic assumption was that since the act establishing the Tribunals leaves a
lot of room for the exercise of discretion, that discretionary power could be used against the
rights of some people, especially the poor and powerless.
Regulations specified in the act require that disputes be submitted to the Tribunal
secretary, who then fixes a date for the hearing of the case and dispatches a summons letter to
the accused party. All the disputants involved in this study expressed satisfaction with the
secretaries' openness and promptness in this regard.
A number of respondents, however, complained that the actual settlement of disputes often
took a disappointingly long time. To this complaint, Tribunal leaders have replied that the
delay was normally caused by factors beyond their power. One of these has been the failure of
some of the disputants to bring their witnesses, inevitably causing postponement of the hearing
of the case. It also was said that quite often the accused person would ignore summons from a
Ward Tribunal. Since Tribunals normally are not served by the police force, it would take time
to get such a person to the Tribunal, and often the complainant is forced to engage a militia
guard (mgambo) at his/her own cost.
The time period used to settle individual disputes ranged from two weeks to fifty-nine
weeks, with an average of fourteen weeks for the sample population. Further analysis shows
that a clear majority of the cases (78 percent) took between two and twenty-three weeks to
conclude, while the remaining cases (14 percent) are unevenly spread between the next two
time intervals of twenty weeks, that is twenty-two to forty-one (14 percent) and forty-two to
sixty-one (8 percent). A further breakdown of the duration of time shows that 62 percent took
between two and twelve weeks while the remaining 36 percent took between thirteen and
twenty-three weeks.
It seems, therefore, that disputes take a fairly long time to settle in Ward Tribunals. One
implication of this is that disputants have to spend a significant amount of time frequenting the
Tribunal office between the time of registration of the case and when the dispute is finally
settled. As an indication of this, 56 percent of the disputants asserted that they attended
Tribunal sessions more than six times when dealing with their respective cases, half of these
attending ten times and above on separate days.
No conclusive statement can be made about these rates, since such a statement requires
data from comparable institutions, such as primary courts and elders' councils. Unfortunately,

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Justice Administration Outside the Ordinary Courts of Law in Mainland Tanzania I 13

this study did not get such data. Access to primary court records was blocked by the prevailing
political situation in the country during the research period. There is, however, ample evidence
to show that here, too, delay in dispute settlement is not uncommon. On the other hand, elders'
meetings usually are not recorded. It must, nevertheless, be stressed that most of the
interviewed people clearly showed dissatisfaction with the current slow pace, and wished that
something could be done to improve it. Despite this complaint, however, none of the
interviewees approved the suggestion that the Ward Tribunals be abolished due to their slow
pace in handling disputes.
Regarding the details of how disputes were actually being handled by the Tribunals, the
basic issues investigated included whether or not each disputant was given enough time to
explain his or her part of the story, whether witnesses from both sides were allowed and heard,
how the Tribunal leaders and members typically conducted themselves in relation to the
disputing parties, and what criteria were finally used in arriving at decisions. The available data
for each of these concerns are discussed below.
As to whether or not enough opportunity was provided for individual disputants' self-
explanation, 93.3 percent of the respondents affirmed that they were given enough time to
narrate their story as well as to ask questions of the other party. The remaining 4.8 percent
complained of too many interruptions by Tribunal members and leaders to the extent of
constraining self- explanation and clarification of the facts of the case, from their point of view.
Further inquiry revealed that the latter incidents were mainly associated with cases in which the
plaintiff was an official of the local authority, such as the Ward executive officer, an extension
officer, or the village government leadership.
A similar picture also emerges with regard to the use of witnesses in dealing with disputes.
While 94.5 percent of the respondents affirmed a consistent use of evidence given by witnesses,
the remaining 5.5 percent indicated that they were either not allowed to call in their witnesses,
or evidence given by their witnesses was not taken into account in the final judgement. Asked
whether this minority complaint was genuine, a chairman of the Tribunal where the complaint
emerged most forcefully responded in affirmation, but then rationalized the action to restrict
hearing of witnesses by saying that in certain cases facts were so clear that the calling of
witnesses would only complicate and prolong the case.
It is perhaps agreeable that accounts of witnesses are not always reliable, hence not a
guarantee for justice. Equally true, however, is the fact that denial of an individual disputant's
right to bring in his/her witnesses may surely facilitate a cover-up of certain facts of the case in
question, resulting in a denial of justice. Since the reported incidents of disregard for witness
accounts, however, are so few, one may be justified to ignore them. Suffice it to say that justice
demands consistence and regularity in dealing with disputes. If witness accounts are sometimes
technically unnecessary, those conditions should be legally specified and uniformly handled by
On the procedure for presentation and defense of cases before Ward Tribunals, most
respondents (74.2 percent) explained that the procedure often began with free explanation by
each disputant in turn, to be followed by questioning and counter-questioning by Tribunal
members. In fewer, but notable, cases (18.7 percent), the procedure was reportedly dominated

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14 I Lawi

by many quick questions from the Tribunal members, requiring short answers. Those involved
in the latter experience likened it to police interrogation.
Personal observation of Tribunals' sessions largely confirmed the above. It was noted that
the procedure typically began with a short presentation of the case as registered. This is done by
the Tribunal secretary and followed by the individual disputant's free presentation. The
disputant clarifies the secretary's presentation, confirms or refutes it, or brings in new facts,
depending on the situation in individual cases. Only one incident of rather humiliating rapid
questioning was observed and this involved a group of young men brought in by village
leadership for failure to participate in a communal work. The interchange of statements and
counter-statements between the disputants often included an opportunity for the accused party
to ask the complainant questions if the former wished to do so. These questions are supposed to
help the Tribunal members discover inconsistencies or deceptions underlying the statements of
the accusing party, much like the role played by advocates in courts of law.
When all this is done, all the people (including the disputants and the audience) are asked
to move out of the room to allow Tribunal members time to converse among themselves and
determine the verdict. Interviews with Tribunal members showed that this process usually
lasted only a short while, involving a short discussion among them under the coordination of
the chairman. The judgement is normally arrived at through a suggestion by a member or the
chairman, which after scrutiny and rationalization is either accepted or rejected. Often, although
not always, it becomes necessary for the members to vote to indicate support for one suggestion
against another. A simple majority vote decides the verdict. In the case of a tie, the chairman
will usually cast the deciding vote, although this does not happen often.
After the decision has been made, people are invited back into the room, and the secretary
reads the judgement after reviewing all the presentations and arguments made in the course of
hearing. The Ward Tribunals Act provides that, at the end of proceedings, the Tribunal may
order the party at default to apologize or to be rebuked at a village assembly, or the two parties
to perform customary acts which signify reconciliation. The present study has established,
however, that Tribunal proceedings hardly ever conclude with any of these acts. Almost
invariably, the Tribunal would order the party at default to pay a specified fine or what is due
to the winning party. Quite often, too, the proceedings end with an order to the party at default
to perform some communal work in the respective village.
A number of conclusions can be drawn from the foregoing description. It is evident that the
Ward Tribunals have been trying to imitate procedures normally used by the ordinary courts of
law in handling disputes. This is indeed contrary to the expectations expressed in the Act,
which anticipated much simpler and informal procedures. The Act also insists that Tribunal
leaders and members should be lay people in respect of formal knowledge of law. This is
further proof that the imitation of court procedures of Tribunal leaders was not anticipated.
Despite this discrepancy, it can be appreciated that the Tribunal leaders have been creative
in trying to follow certain procedures in settling disputes brought before them. They have been
trying to utilize all the available resources, including the scant knowledge they have gathered
(through experience and reading) concerning how to go about resolving conflicts. It is notable
that quite a number of Tribunal leaders and members have been reading simplified law texts
written in Kiswahili. The fact that the challenge posed by the establishment of these Tribunals is

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Justice Administration Outside the Ordinary Courts of Law in Mainland Tanzania I 15

causing some knowledge of law to trickle down to the village community level lends credit to
this institution.
The important question, though, is whether the imitation of court procedures advances the
cherished mission of these institutions, that is insuring justice and tranquility at the local
community level. The present study has revealed that more often than not the Tribunals, just
like the ordinary courts, have tended to concern themselves primarily with the task of
establishing whether or not a particular accused party was truly guilty of the alleged offence.
The opinion so formed would then be used to determine the verdict, often a fine, or
compensation, or return of property to the deserving owner.
In view of the specified principles of informality and preference of reconciliation to
compulsion, one would have expected that the Tribunals would be more informal in their
operations than they have so far been, and that the compulsive image would have featured
much less than has been the case. It is admitted, however, that in order to reconcile any two
disputing parties one has first to find the facts. The point being stressed here is that the fact-
finding exercise should be done in a more informal and relaxed manner, so as to prepare a firm
ground for later harmony and understanding between the parties concerned.
It is further admitted that at the end of the conciliation process, it is often necessary to
cause one party to compensate or pay what is due to the other, or some kind of
punishment/reward be given to one of the conflicting parties. These punishments or rewards
need to be negotiated by the disputing parties while the Tribunal restricts its role to that of
mediation. This would involve persuading the two parties to long for understanding or
compromise while at the same time making relevant suggestions on how the conflict could be
resolved. Failure to reach agreement through this process should merit an automatic transfer of
the case to a primary court.
The observed Tribunal sessions revealed that decisions are normally based either on
regulations passed by the local government authorities or by reference to customary norms and
regulations. In this respect, the Tribunals have been functioning according to the specifications
of the act establishing them. More often than not, however, these regulations were used as an
absolute and sole measure upon which the resolution of the conflict would then be based. This
tendency obviously defeats the central mission of the Tribunals. It is suggested that whereas
reference could be made to the existing regulations and other socially acceptable norms in the
respective communities, the role of the regulations should be limited to facilitation of amicable
settlement of disputes. Reference to them should always be made in the spirit of expanding the
range of principles upon which the conflict at hand could be resolved.
The inquiry on what happens after disputes have been handled by the Ward Tribunals
yielded interesting results. Figures based on the study sample show that 53.4 percent of the
disputes were decisively settled by the Tribunals while the remaining proportion (46.6 percent)
have had to be rehandled as parties dissatisfied by the Tribunal decisions appealed to other
organs. Furthermore, 74.4 percent of the latter category of disputes went to the primary courts,
21.8 percent went to government establishments(such as the Area Commissioner's office and the
offices of the Ward and Division Executive Officers) and 3.8 per cent went back to the village or
clan elders.

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16 I Lawi

The ability to decisively settle over half of the disputes brought to them is certainly an
indication that the Ward Tribunals have achieved considerable effectiveness. On the other hand,
the fact that nearly half of the disputes handled by the Tribunals have been reopened elsewhere
for reconsideration indicates that the Tribunals need to perform better. While it may not be
possible for the Tribunals to successfully settle all the disputes brought before them, the noted
proportion of appeal cases suggests that a considerable weakness exists, which, if rectified,
would increase the effectiveness of the Tribunals.
This study did not attempt to establish the specific Tribunal weaknesses that might have
caused the noted proportion of appeals against their rulings, but it may be assumed that the
tendency may have resulted, at least in part, from unsatisfactory procedures and decisions
taken by Ward Tribunals.
To conclude, it has been noted that the findings of this study do not support the
assumption that the apparent legal vagueness of the procedures to be followed by the Ward
Tribunals in resolving conflicts might have allowed powerful and influential disputants to
maneuver decisions in their favor. There is no evidence to show that Tribunal procedures have
been changing with the social and economic status of the disputants involved. In light of the
fact that the powerful and influential members of the society hardly use the Tribunals in
resolving their conflicts, it can be argued that the hypothesized danger of prejudice on the part
of the Tribunal leaders would not have been possible.
In contrast to the stated assumptions, the apparent flexibility of law on matters of
procedure seem to have stimulated creativity among Tribunal leaders. The noted tendency to
experiment with court procedures is contrary to the specified principles by which the Tribunals
should operate. Nonetheless, although the noted court-like procedures may have been
unpopular among the people whose cases have been handled by the Tribunals, none of the
interviewees was of the opinion that this characteristic makes the Tribunals more deplorable
than the primary courts as far as their performance in justice administration is concerned.

Summary, Conclusions and Recommendations

The above discussion suggests that, although faced with several notable shortcomings, the
Tanzanian Ward Tribunals have not been without important achievements. Their establishment
has met with considerable enthusiasm and their performance, on the whole, seems to have
maintained hope among the respective communities that this organ will continue to be useful to
It has been noted that the composition of both the Tribunal leaders and members is acutely
skewed in favor of male elders. This situation can possibly lead to the denial of justice to the
largely excluded social groups, that is women and young people. But this study could not
establish any case of discrimination against these groups, even after the Babati Tribunal was
revisited to check on this. However, while representation on the Tribunals in terms of age may
not be so important, it would be necessary to bridge the gender imbalance in the future. Given
that a clear division of labor along sex exists in the Tanzanian society men and women can
easily constitute antagonistic relations in specific situations. To minimize the possibilities of

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Justice Administration Outside the Ordinary Courts of Law in Mainland Tanzania I 17

prejudice in handling such antagonism in Tribunals, deliberate steps need to be taken to ensure
a strong representation of women in these organs.
The study established that while the Tribunals have everywhere proved to be popular
among the common people, the upper stratum of society has been conspicuously missing from
them. This tendency, while contrary to the respective study hypothesis, tells something about
the nature of the Tribunals. Had the Tribunals generally taken a corrupt stature, the well-to-do
people would not have failed to take advantage of them. The challenge ahead, however, is how
to make the ordinary courts of law inaccessible to corrupt intentions so that justice can be
insured in all the relevant institutions.
On the whole, Ward Tribunals in Babati perform well in the actual handling of disputes,
but they are not free from short-falls. The most outstanding among these include failure to
conclude cases in appreciably good time, incidents of irregularity hence inconsistency in the use
of witness accounts in arriving at decisions, and, above all, Tribunal leaders' experimentation
with court procedures while no arrangements are in place to constantly guide them in this
It was mentioned above that a notable contradiction exists between procedures often used
by Tribunals in handling disputes and the principle of reconciliation that has strongly been
emphasized by the law establishing the Ward Tribunals. The Tribunals tend to be more
compulsive than conciliatory in their conduct. It is the considered opinion of this author that
this tendency needs to be corrected.
Before any corrective measures can be determined, however, it is imperative to first decide
whether the Ward Tribunals should continue being fundamentally conciliatory or should they
be transformed into small, amateur courts. If the former option is chosen, as this author prefers,
concerted efforts need to be directed at re-orienting the Tribunals. This task will require the
assistance of the social welfare department as well as experts in public administration. What
needs to be done is to give Tribunal leaders and members basic knowledge and skills in
arbitration and conciliation. The Tribunals so oriented would primarily seek to skillfully
persuade or entice people to amicably resolve their conflicts rather than proceeding to courts of
law. It should be possible, in this way, to develop a locally available, low-cost and semi-
professional body of mediation. This appears to be a better way of achieving the twin objectives
of the Ward Tribunals, namely an amicable settlement of disputes at the local community level,
and relieving the stress on the primary courts.


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Gluckman. 1960. Custom and Conflict in Africa. Oxford: Blackwell.

Lloyd, Denis. 1987. Introduction to Jurisprudence. London Penguin Books.

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Mbunda, Luitfried X. 1985. 'Procedures of Dispute Settlement: Pre-Colonial to Post-
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Conference Paper, Arusha. March.

Miller, D. 1976. Social Justice. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Moor, Sally Falk. 1978. Law as Process: An Anthropological Approach. London Routledge and
Kagan Paul.

Msekwa, P. 1977. Report of the Judiciary System Review Commission. Dar es Salaam.

Ngonyani, G. T. 1987. The Nature of Judicial System in Post-Independence Era in Tanzania. L.
L. M. Dissertation, University of Dar es Salaam.

Ngware, S. and M. Haule. The Forgotten Level: Village Governments in Tanzania. Hamburg
African Studies. November 1993.

Perelman, Chaim 1963. The Idea of Justice and the Problem of Argument. London Routledge
and Kagan Paul.

Rowland, Peter. 1988. Arbitration. Law. and Practice. London Institute of Chartered
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Tanzania Statutes. Act. No. 7 of 1985.

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 1, Issue 2 I 1997

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 1, Issue 2 I 1997

Economic Reforms and Health Conditions of the Urban Poor in



"Since the human being is the centre of all development, the human condition is the only final
measure of development. Improving that condition is essential for the poor and vulnerable
human beings who comprise the majority of our peoples in Africa. Africa's men and women are
the main factors and the ends for whom and by whom any programme and implementation of
development must be justified" (The 1988 Khartoum Declaration).

1. Introduction

This paper examines the impact of economic reforms, namely Structural Adjustment
Policies (SAPs), on the health conditions of the Tanzanian urban poor. My conclusion is that
these policies have had detrimental effects on the living conditions of the urban poor. Thus,
SAPs are contributing to the deterioration of health conditions among these people rather than
improving them. SAPs are affecting these people in a variety of ways. First, by affecting
negatively the development of the urban environment, SAPs are destroying the environmental
conditions on which the poor depend for their existence and survival. Secondly, by impacting
the provision of urban health services, SAPs are affecting facilities which serve the health needs
of the urban population. Thirdly, by fueling inflation, SAPs have raised the general cost of
living which has exacerbated poverty rather than eradicated it.

2. The Historical Background of SAPs in Africa

SAPs, aimed at stabilizing developing countries' external and internal balance of payments
and promoting their export growth through devaluation, producer price changes, trade
liberalization, privatization and legal reforms, have become a fact of life in most African
countries in the last decade. Their adoption usually (but not always) occurs in times of
economic crisis and in response to promises and threats from donors led by the two foremost
international financial institutions, the IMF and the World Bank (Gibbon 1993: 11). In most cases
these financial institutions are largely responsible for designing the SAPs. The history of SAPs
in Sub-Saharan Africa begins with the World Bank's 1981 Berg Report on social and economic
crisis in Africa. In response to this report the World Bank recommended the adoption of
structural reforms or SAPs.
Structural reforms involve adjusting the economy in order to properly manage the balance
of payments, reducing fiscal deficits, increasing economic efficiency and encouraging private
sector investments and export-oriented production. As indicated elsewhere (Lugalla 1995a: 44),


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20 I Lugalla

the major principles of SAPs include the control of money supply, devaluation of the local
currency, reduction of public borrowing and government expenditure, (particularly in
unproductive sectors of the economy) and the introduction of user charges (cost-sharing) in
education and health. Other measures include trade liberalization, reduction of tariffs, creation
of a conducive environment for foreign investments, abolition of price controls, privatization of
parastatals, withdrawal of subsidies, retrenchment of workers and, above all, democratization,
which is generally understood to mean multiparty politics. Since the early 1980s, most countries
in sub-Saharan Africa have been forced to implement these measures as a pre-condition to aid
and loans from the IMF, the World Bank, and other donor agencies.
In order to solve the persistent severe economic crisis which has been confronting Tanzania
since the late 1970s, Tanzania signed an agreement with the World Bank and the IMF in 1986 to
adopt SAPs. The various programs include the Economic Recovery Programme One (ERP I) in
1986, ERP II, Economic and Social Action Plan (ESAP) and the Priority Social Action Plan
(PSAP) in 1989.
Now, more than a decade later, the living conditions of most Tanzanians have worsened.
Real incomes of most households have declined sharply, malnutrition is rampant, food
production has fallen relative to population, and social services have deteriorated both in
quantity and quality. Furthermore, Tanzania's population is exploding amidst severe socio-
economic and environmental crisis. All these problems have been occurring at the same time
that Tanzania has been implementing social and economic reforms prescribed by major donors
and financial institutions like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) as a
necessary pill for curing socio-economic crisis.

3. Impact of SAPs on Urban Environment

The quality of life in urban areas depends to a great extent on the availability of social
services including health, education, recreation and such urban infrastructure as water,
electricity, communication, transportation, sanitation and drainage systems. Due to economic
crisis and the accompanying reform policies, urban areas in Tanzania have not experienced
positive development. Despite reforms, most of the towns and cities are in a state of chaos and
decay; their social as well as economic problems have multiplied rather than decreased. The
majority of the urban population has difficulties in accessing clean water, adequate shelter,
good health care, employment, and other basic services. In Dar-es-Salaam there are frequent
water cuts which sometimes leave areas dry for more than a week. There are electricity
blackouts, telephones which maintain an eerie silence, inadequate parking spaces, overflowing
sewage, congestion of vehicles which do not observe traffic regulations, hospitals without
medicine, roads with pot holes, pick-pockets and gangs of armed robbers, and streets without
lights but with the pungent smell of uncollected garbage. There are more beggars, disabled,
street-children, hawkers, cows and goats, all of which contribute simultaneously to traffic jams.
Spontaneous slum settlements have increased tremendously during the last few years.
These settlements accommodate the majority of the urban poor who are continuously being
marginalized by various processes engendered by both economic crisis and economic reform

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Economic Reforms and Health Conditions of the Urban Poor in Tanzania I 21

policies. We also see a rapid increase of competing official and unofficial "illegal" income-
generating activities like prostitution, black-marketing of drugs and hawking.
In contrast, some parts of Tanzanian cities show evidence of developmental efforts,
planning or management initiatives. Multi-story buildings are changing the urban geography of
Tanzania. The winds of modernization and dependency have increased their speed to the extent
that even the Sheraton Hotel chain has found a home in Tanzania. Luxurious buildings have
mushroomed in beach zones like Msasani, Mikocheni, Kawe, Mbezi, and Tegeta in Dar-es-
Salaam. Airports have been rebuilt and expanded in order to suit the Western model. The
number of luxurious air-conditioned four-wheel vehicles fitted with telephones, video and
television sets has increased These processes reveal that SAPs have not meant the same thing to
everyone; wealth and poverty are not isolated trends but rather two sides of the same coin.
Emphasis on reducing government expenditure on unproductive sectors like social
development in urban areas is one way SAPs have negatively impacted urban development in
Tanzania. Lack of sufficient budget has made it difficult to finance a variety of urban
development projects including the provision of adequate housing. As a result, 70% of the
urban population live in squatter settlements without such necessities as sanitation facilities
(drainage and sewage systems) and adequate refuse and garbage collection. Most of the houses
are built of low quality materials. In 1988, at least 90% of the urban population were living in
areas or homes which did not merit required official and legal standards (ILO 1982: 122). The
1991/92 Household Budget Survey (HBS) shows that 40% of the total urban population live in
overcrowded houses. Only 41% of the population of Dar-es-Salaam City have access to piped
water; about 4% of the total urban population have no toilets facilities, with 80% using pit
latrines and only 7% with flush toilets. Nearly 66% have garbage pits outside the compound,
18.5% throw their garbage out of their compound and only 6% have rubbish bins. Out of the 20
regional headquarters (towns), only eight have central sewage systems. These serve less than
10% of the population of each town. In 1990, Dar-es-Salaam, a city of more than 2 million
people, had only 15 public toilets, none of which were functioning (Lugalla 1990: 356). In
1985/86 the city generated 1,200 tons of solid waste daily. The city needed 120 vehicles to
remove all this garbage but had only 12. In order to be able to remove all the waste water the
city needed 150 emptiers, but due to financial constraints, it had only 20 cesspool emptiers in
March 1988 (Kulaba 1985: 45).
Social sector expenditures between 1978-88 dropped from 8 percentage of GDP in 1978 to
4.5 percent in 1988. For health and housing alone, the percentages declined from 2.4 percent to
1.9 percent and from 0.1 percent to 0.03 percent, respectively (Lugalla 1993: 196). As far as urban
areas are concerned, these declining trends meant that the government became less and less
able to finance new development let alone maintain the same quality of urban social services.
Considering that by 1988 the population of Tanzania had increased from 17 million in 1978 to
22.5 million in 1988, one can see the relationship between reform policies, poor living
environment (housing conditions), and health. For example, improved water supplies were
built in the early and mid-seventies to serve some 50 to 70 percent of the urban population, and
about 45 percent in the rural areas. In both cases, inadequate maintenance due to lack of funds
have reduced the number of people served to about 25 percent (Kulaba 1989). While the urban
population has been expanding over the past decade at an annual growth rate of almost 12

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22 I Lugalla

percent, the capacity of urban authorities to collect and dispose of an increasing amount of
refuse and solid waste has been declining.
Although this data assists us in understanding how SAPs have affected the ability of the
government to provide public services in urban areas, it does not show concretely how the
living environment of the urban poor has been affected and how this contributes to their poor
health. In order to see the relationship between poverty, living environment and health, I
carried out an in-depth study in 1995 in two squatter settlements in Dar-es-Salaam, namely
Kinondoni-Hananasif and Vingunguti. The major findings of this study are presented in brief in
the section below.

4. Urban Poverty, Urban Environment and Health

Vingunguti and Hananasif settlements are located along the Msimbazi River which cuts
across Dar-es-Salaam city from East to West dividing the city into two parts (North and South).
The river's basin is mainly vegetated by mangrove swamps. The area is popular in Dar-es-
Salaam because of the role it plays in the urban economy. Most of the fresh vegetables, i.e.,
mchicha (spinach), sold by street vendors in Dar-es-Salaam is grown here. Msimbazi River is
also a source of domestic water for families which do not have access to piped water. Several
industries located along Pugu Road industrial area discharge their waste materials into this
basin. The biggest city dump for solid waste disposal is located in Vingunguti area which is
situated further west along this basin.
The basin also is home to many urban dwellers of Dar-es-Salaam. All areas bordering the
river basin contain residential houses which reflect the conditions of urban poverty and squalor.
Most of the housing units are built of simple and impermanent materials like mud, sticks, poles,
mangrove trees, thatched grass and recycled metals. Seventy-seven percent of the head of
households in our sample admitted that their houses were made of temporary building
materials and 54.5 percent were not satisfied with their houses. There are a few attractive
houses in the area, indicating the co-existence of both poverty and wealth.
The area is densely populated with a high degree of overcrowding in and between houses.
Houses have been built with little space between them; small corridors or paths separate one
residential unit from the other. According to our findings, health problems associated with
overcrowding are common including malaria, respiratory diseases, scabies, diarrhea,
tuberculosis, influenza and meningitis. The houses have small windows and therefore
ventilation is poor.
In addition, different families live in one house in which they rent separate rooms. In most
cases poor families rent a single room and share the kitchen and sanitary facilities. Our findings
show that more than four people may live, cook, eat and sleep in one room. This overcrowding
is a health hazard. There is no doubt that communicable diseases can be easily transmitted from
one person to another. Studies elsewhere have shown that overcrowding, inadequate
ventilation, and the use of open fires (charcoal or wood) contribute to respiratory health
problems (Environment and Urbanization 1990: 3-4).
Most of the inhabitants lack security of tenure (lease holds), and those who rent do not
have a contract or a written agreement with their landlords. Few houses have electricity.

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Economic Reforms and Health Conditions of the Urban Poor in Tanzania I 23

Seventy-one percent of the households surveyed have no electricity; 95.7 percent have no
telephones. Since obtaining electricity connections is an expensive and cumbersome exercise,
illegal power connections are common, contributing to life-threatening accidents.
Most of the residents of Kinondoni-Hananasif and Vingunguti settlements do not have
piped water in their houses. The majority use pit latrines to dispose of human excreta. Only 9.4
percent have flush toilets and 5.2 percent have no system for disposing of human waste.
Drainage systems, storm and surface water drains and sewers do not exist. Facilities for
disposing of garbage are lacking. Only 15.2 percent of those surveyed have waste pits. Nearly
60 percent throw their garbage outside their houses and 23.4 percent throw it on their streets.
In-depth interviews show that garbage is left uncollected and untreated for a longtime. The
Daily News Paper recently carried a story entitled, "Garbage Dumps Mushroom in Dar Streets":
Dar-es-Salaam City is gradually turning into a stinking city following the mushrooming of
sew dumps and heaps of uncollected garbage scattered all over the city. A survey has shown
that garbage collection has deteriorated prompting health hazards to city residents. In 1993 the
Dar-es-Salaam City Council contracted a private company to collect garbage on commercial
basis (Daily News Paper, September 5, 1995).
Pit latrines have multiple purposes. Many houses use them as bathrooms as well as
garbage pits. This was confirmed by 58.6 percent of the households surveyed. When asked
whether they were satisfied with conditions of their latrines, 71.4 percent indicated they were
not happy with the situation. They said the main problem is the overflowing of latrines due to
the absence of emptying trucks, not to mention the high costs involved in hiring one. Most of
the pit latrines tend to be located outside the house and are relatively shallow because the water
table in Dar-es-Salaam is high. In most cases the pit latrine holes are not covered by lids. This
allows the easy movement of flies from latrines to the kitchen to food stalls and elsewhere.
Some of the latrines exist side by side with open pit wells where people draw water for
washing and cooking. Given the high water table in Dar-es-Salaam, it is likely that water from
open wells can be contaminated with human waste. Overflowing of pit-latrines tends to
contaminate shallow sources of water supply in low income settlements. This happens because
the city council is unable to provide trucks for emptying them. Even if they could provide
trucks, the cost of such services are unaffordable to most of the people. Some people, who do
not have their own pit latrines, defecate in the river. One can argue that Msimbazi River has
turned into an open sewer, a situation which endangers the lives of those who depend on its
waters. It is no wonder that during floods, houses in this area tend to float in their own sewage.
This is confirmed by one resident who said the following:
The river is filthy. It accommodates everything -- human remains, industrial waste and all
waste from Vingunguti abattoir flow into this river. People bathe and some defecate and
children play and swim throughout the day. The whole river basin stinks. But a lot of us get our
domestic water from here. I have no doubt that the several diseases we suffer are manufactured
here. We are poor! We have no alternative. We have complained to the city fathers, some of
them have even visited these areas and promised to do something but nothing has happened so
far. Instead of solving our problems, they keep on sending to us researchers like you. We have
seen several people of your kind but our situation has not changed. Go and tell your bosses that

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24 I Lugalla

we want good water, electricity and dispensaries and not research! We know that you people
are using our situation of poverty in order to enrich yourselves. We are tired now.
"Go and buy us some beer over there," echoed his friend sitting nearby. "We know you are
paid for this."
Typical of the unplanned settlements of urban Tanzania, these squatter settlements
demonstrate in concrete terms how the state's policies marginalize the urban poor as far as
social services and other civic facilities are concerned. We have seen that very few have access
to piped water, and my findings show that most people travel long distances to collect water for
domestic use, especially for drinking and cooking, because public taps and taps from neighbors
are in most cases dry. People buy water at very high prices. Some get their water from dug
wells, ponds, streams, and the polluted Msimbazi River. How is this urban environment
affecting health conditions of the urban poor?
When asked to list the kind of diseases from which the residents of these two settlements
suffer, the majority of the household heads named diseases which are water-borne, infectious
and communicable. There is a lack of readily available water, sewage connections, or other
systems which dispose of human waste. These, combined with a failure to collect garbage and
an absence of basic measures to prevent disease and provide primary health care, have resulted
in many debilitating and easily prevented diseases becoming endemic among poorer
households. These include dysentery, diarrhea, scabies, skin diseases, eye problems, typhoid,
and intestinal parasites. Cholera remains a threat to those who live in these areas. Information
derived from respondents shows that the incidence of diarrhea and malaria among children is
very high as is the rate of infant mortality (IMR) and death in children below five years of age.
The 1988 National Population Census shows that this rate was 104 per thousand and a study by
the World Bank itself argues that the infant mortality rate has not improved over the last decade
(World Bank 1995: XVII). The decline of IMR from higher levels in late fifties of about 137
deaths per thousand to about 115, in the 1988 population census, should be attributed to pre-
SAP policies which put more emphasis on child immunization, primary health and other
preventive strategies. Another study revealed that inadequate food consumption, together with
malaria, diarrhea and respiratory diseases, caused 75-80 percent of deaths among young
children (UNICEF 1990: 20).
There is a very close relationship between income and health. A study on health and infant-
feeding practices in Dar-es-Salaam conducted in 1979/80 found that there was an association
between income and the mortality rates of children under five years. The lowest income group,
which included those households earning up to Tsh. 799 per month, had a mortality rate of 110
per thousand, while those earning Tsh. 2,000-3,199 and those earning Tsh. 3,200 and more per
month had mortality rates of 64 and 13 per thousand, respectively (Kahama et al. 1986). The
1991/92 Demographic and Health Survey shows that the trend has not reversed. Given that the
Tanzania Poverty Profile (using data from 1991) shows that 51 percent of the population had
incomes of less than an absolute poverty line of $1 per day per person in 1991 (World Bank
1995: XV), there is no reason to believe that the health situation has improved.
Birth weight is another health and development indicator that is significant in assessing
overall health because it has a major impact on infant mortality and is closely linked to mothers'
general health. The occurrence of low weight reflects physical and psychological stress on the

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Economic Reforms and Health Conditions of the Urban Poor in Tanzania I 25

mother that may be caused by a variety of social, economic, and health factors, especially
malnutrition and unregulated fertility. The Dar-es-Salaam study cited above showed that the
birth weight did indeed increase with income: 3,06 kg. was the average weight for the poorest
group and 3,26 kg. was the average for the wealthiest (Kahama 1986).
Recent data show that perinatal/maternal malaria and diarrhea continue to rank at the top
as causes of death. The three contribute 22.9, 18.2, and 7.5 percentage respectively in terms of
percent of life years lost (World Bank 1995: XXXII). At the same time, conventional wisdom
regarding urban planning and hygiene teach us that improved drainage systems can help to
control water-borne diseases or disease vectors and that stagnant water can be a breeding place
for schistosomiasis, snails, malarial mosquitoes, and mosquitoes which serve as vectors for
dengue and yellow fever.
Another characteristic observed in these areas is that a higher proportion of children and
young adolescents live in settlements with little or no provision for public space and the
facilities they need for sports and other social activities. Roads, garbage heaps, and other
hazardous places become their playgrounds in absence of any better alternatives. Children are
particularly at risk from vehicles, pathogens and toxic substances. The problems range from
contracting diarrhea (through ingesting pathogens from fecal matter which contaminates the
land on which they play) to coming into contact with toxic chemicals.
Due to a shortage of land in the area, some residential units are located in unsafe areas.
Many houses stand in areas where floods can easily sweep them away. The floods which have
been occurring in Dar-es-Salaam since 1989 have been responsible for destroying houses in this
basin and leaving people homeless. We noted several demolished houses in Hananasif and in
Vingunguti, where part of the basin had been reclaimed and turned into a cemetery. We were
told that heavy rains have been disastrous. Many people remember the floods of 1992 which
eroded part of the cemetery, unearthed the human remains and swept them into the river basin.
Nevertheless, these problems have not deterred people from building in the area. In Hananasif,
people continue to build housing units in areas which are unfit for human habitation. We noted
during our visits to the area that there were a lot of activities to reclaim land submerged in
marshy and dirty water. This means that the dire need for shelter is indeed overriding the fear
of floods. It is no wonder that the floods which happen periodically in Dar-es-Salaam claim
lives of many people.

5. The Urban Poor and Provision of Health Services

The Structural Adjustment policy of reducing government expenditures on social service
sectors like health and education has created a lot of problems with these services. Statistics
show that aggregate central government expenditures on health fell by 9 percent in real terms
between 1980 and 1987. The development budget for urban areas, as a percentage of the total
development budget, began to decline in 1978-79 when it was only 1.62 percent; the situation
worsened in 1986-87, the year SAPs were adopted, when it was just 0.31 percent (Kulaba 1989:
Per capital spending on health declined by more than a third between 1980 and 1986 (Afro-
Aid 1991; World Bank 1995). According to the total financial requirements of the Priority Social

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26 I Lugalla

Action Programme of 1989/90 to 1991/92, the percentage of the unfunded gap in health was
42.9, 67.4 and 63.5 for 1989/90, 1990/91 and 1991/92, respectively. The government's ability to
maintain, expand or improve the health care system has declined tremendously, leading to
serious deterioration of health services. As has been shown, the main health problems in urban
areas result from diseases associated with infection, most of which are water-borne. However,
the health care system still emphasizes curative hospital services rather than preventive
Besides the poor environment, the critical problems associated with health care include
shortage of health and medical staff, medical equipment and medicine. In 1978, there were only
275 dispensaries in all urban areas of Tanzania. Of these, 81 were owned by government, 21 by
voluntary agencies, 89 by public parastatal organizations, and 84 were owned privately (Lugalla
1995b: 97). During this period, the service ratio was 21,000 people per dispensary which was
much below the official required national standard of one dispensary for every 8,000 people
(Lugalla 1995b: 97). In 1982, there were only 24 health centers in urban areas. Given the total
urban population of approximately 2,957,674 at that time, the service ratio was 123,236 people
for one health center which was far below the national standard of one health center for every
50,000 people (Lugalla 1995b: 97).
During the same period there were 67 hospitals with 11,366 hospital beds (Lugalla 1995b:
97). The number of these facilities has remained constant despite urban population growth.
Examining the figures for the number of hospitals in the entire country, it is clear that although
the number has been increasing, the population served by one facility as well as population per
doctor also has been increasing. For example, in 1978 there were 148 hospitals in the whole
country. With a population of 17 million people at that time, each hospital was supposed to be
serving 114,864 people, and 815 people were supposed to use one bed. In 1988 when the
population increased to 22.5 million, the number of hospitals increased by only four. The
population per facility went up to 148,026 people, and the population per bed rose to 987
people. By 1990 there were 173 hospitals for a population of about 23,670,400. This meant a total
of 136,823 people per facility, and 1012 people were now supposed to use one bed (computed
from various tables from Statistical Abstracts of Tanzania of 1993).
With regard to medical personnel, one notes that the number of doctors has not increased
with population growth. In 1984 there were only 1115 medical doctors; the population per
doctor was 17,937 people. In 1989 (three years after adopting SAPs) the number of doctors
dropped to 978 and as a result the ratio went up to 23,006 people per doctor. By 1993 the
number of doctors increased slightly to 1134 but due to increase in population, the ratio per
doctor rose to 23,920 people (ibid.). Although the number of health facilities has increased,
overcrowding and inadequate and demoralized personnel portends that the services offered
must have become worse. It is true, as the World Bank argues in its report on "Socio-Economic
Growth and Poverty Alleviation in Tanzania" (1995), that the percentage of the population
which have a health facility less than 5 km away has increased from 57 percent in 1976 to 87
percent in 1993. This does not mean however that the services offered are of good quality. It is
also important to note that most of these health institutions were established in the late
seventies and early eighties when Tanzania was implementing redistributive economic policies.

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Economic Reforms and Health Conditions of the Urban Poor in Tanzania I 27

Information from the Ministry of Health as well as the Planning Commission shows that
there has been very little development in health infrastructure during the period of SAPs. In
other words, pre-SAP policies are the ones which have been responsible for improving the
accessibility (distance-wise) of health services. For example, between 1967 to 1985 the number of
hospitals increased from 116 to 152 (an increase of about 31 percent). Health centers increased
from 46 to 260 (an increase of 465 percent) and dispensaries increased from 1237 to 2852 (an
increase of 131 percent) during the same period. But from 1986 to 1993, a post-SAP period of
seven years, the increase was only 14, 6.2, 0.7 percentages for hospitals, health centers and
dispensaries, respectively (United Republic of Tanzania: Selected Statistical Series. Bureau of
Statistics, 1995: 85). Taking into consideration the rising population, this increase is indeed very
insignificant and is a clear indication of the fact that pre-SAP policies paid more attention to the
welfare of the people. The World Bank itself admits in its recent various reports on the social
services sector in Tanzania that the huge health infrastructure which was created in the
seventies has been crumbling due to lack of essential equipment, medicine and personnel. What
we have now in Tanzania are "empty institutions" which lack the basic necessary resources to
be able to function well. One can argue therefore that it is not the number of institutions that
matters, but the nature of these institutions and the quality of the services they provide. A
variety of people's narratives presented in this paper reveal that things are not getting better as
far as health services are concerned. They also confirm that there was a time when things used
to be good, particularly from mid-sixties to early eighties.
Urban health facilities do not provide their services to every urban dweller; they are
segregated. Those owned by the Agha-Khan organization are private and essentially provide
services to Asians, Europeans, and to a very few affluent Africans. Those owned by public
parastatal organizations provide free services but serve only their employees and their families.
The unemployed have to depend solely on public-owned health facilities. While these provide
free medical services, but they offer extremely poor services and often lack medicine.
In the case of Dar-es-Salaam, the urban poor have to depend on the services provided by
the Muhimbili Medical Centre, Mwananyamala, Ilala, Temeke and Magomeni health centers.
Given the present population of Dar-es-Salaam, these health centers are very inadequate and
complaints about their poor services are common. Beginning in the past two years, public
health institutions charge fees for their services. The bulk of the available evidence appears to
confirm that while user charges in health care generate income, they also deter those patients at
greatest risk who cannot afford the charges. This is confirmed by one of our informants in the
following narrative:
"There are countless diseases in this area. I have just recovered from dysentery three days
ago," said one household head in Vingunguti squatter settlement in Dar-es-Salaam.
This morning I attended a funeral of my 'Ten Cell' leader's son who died two days ago.
They say it was cholera that killed him. My elder brother died last year from this disease. In
fact, several people have perished because of this. Look! My granddaughter who is lying there
has been sick now for the last three weeks. Her mother spends more time in hospitals than at
home. The doctors are telling us that she is anemic and malnourished.

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28 I Lugalla

"The Ilala hospital do not have medicine and the doctors directed us to a private chemist
where we got some but she has not recovered," responded his wife sitting nearby. "So far we
have spent more than 10,000 Tanzanian Shillings."
"The doctors have advised us to feed her a special kind of food but we are poor, we cannot
afford it," said the husband. I am a minimum wage earner. My salary does not last us for a
week. I have six people in my family. The months of April and May were bad for us, malaria
attacked the whole family. It started with my two sons, then came the daughter and her
daughter and then me. Finally it ended up with my wife. This time we decided to go to a
private hospital. The blood test alone cost 1,100 Tanzanian Shillings for one person. At first, the
doctors gave us chloroquine tablets. They didn't work. Then they put us on a full dose of
quinine injections. We ended up paying 2,000 Tanzanian Shillings for each person. Although
the others have recovered, I am still not feeling well. They are now saying I should take
Fansidar. But this drug is very expensive, I cannot afford it! I have so many debts now and I do
not know how I am going to pay them back. Hayo ndiyo maisha ya kila siku ya sisi "'Walala-
Hoi. This is the daily life of we people who are poor, those who toil but get nothing in return."
Although using public hospitals is the only alternative available to the urban poor, there
are government directives and circulars which allow some employees, especially senior ones, to
get treatment from the expensive privately-owned hospitals. The poor and the unemployed,
who are the majority, experience critical health problems in urban areas because they live in a
poor environment. They are the ones who have access to poor facilities or no medical and health
care at all. The affluent, who experience fewer health problems, have access to all types of
medical and health care facilities at the government's expense, or are sometimes sent abroad for
treatment. It is a zero-sum game.
In addition to the appalling conditions in most of the government owned hospitals,
corruption is also rampant. Good treatment depends on "technical know-who" instead of
technical know-how. The moral code of conduct of most of the doctors has been eroded by
inflation and the high cost of living. As a result, corruption has become deeply entrenched. A
majority of the medical personnel is investing more time in private practice and other sideline
income generating activities than in public services. This is a new trend of behavior which was
not evident during the pre-SAPs period.
SAPs have reduced the health budget significantly. The state allocation for health is now
estimated at less than 5 percent of the government's recurrent budget. Information from the
Ministry of Finance shows that every Tanzanian is at present spending 5$ a year to service
foreign debts but spends only 2$ for his/her own health. Low wages and the poor conditions of
work have demoralized health workers and led many to leave the public sector. The monthly
wages offered to health personnel do not correspond to the monthly household cost of living.
As in education, salaries of medical and health personnel in 1990 were the same as in 1980. This
has bred corruption in the medical sector. As I have argued elsewhere, drugs are sold illegally
while prescriptions and medical attention are available to those who can pay or have influence.
Kickbacks have become the medium of exchange for medical attention (see Lugalla 1995a: 45).
The Ministry of Health estimates that since SAPs began, about 500 doctors and medical
assistants have left the public hospitals for private ones. "I used to earn 15,000 Tanzanian
Shillings (22 U.S. Dollars) a month, but now I get three times this amount," says nurse Mariam

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Economic Reforms and Health Conditions of the Urban Poor in Tanzania I 29

Semtawa, who now works in a private hospital (IPS 1995). Some doctors have left public
services for greener pastures outside the country. In the last ten years, Tanzania and Kenya
seem to be the leading countries in Africa, exporting health personnel to Southern Africa in
general, particularly to Lesotho, Swaziland, Zimbabwe and Botswana (IPS 1996). Due to trade
liberalization, private hospital fees are no longer subject to government control. Quality control
of both services and drugs is proving to be difficult. A lot of private clinics have been opened
during the last few years. Most of them are housed in undesirable environments and some are
operated by quacks and therefore pose more health problems. Cases of drugs being sold after
faking labels are countless. One informant in Knondoni-Hananasif described the conditions of
public hospitals in Dar-es-Salaam:
Angalia ile Hospitali ya Muhimbili. Ukubwa wa bure! Majengo tu! Lakini hakuna kitu
pale. Vifaa hakuna! Dawa hazipo! Madaktari hawapo! Opereshenihazifanyiki kwa vile dawa za
usingizi hakuna. Kila siku wanakufa watu pale! Nenda ukaone chumba cha maiti. Kimejaa!
Ukitaka kufa nenda Muhimbili. Ile siyo hospital bali ni machinjoni.
Look at that Muhimbili Hospital. It is big for nothing! It is only buildings! There is nothing
there. There are no equipment! No medicine! No doctors. Operations are not taking place
because there is no anesthesia medicine. People die there every day! Go and see the mortuary, it
is full. If you want to die, go there! That is not a hospital but a slaughter house. (Translated by
the author. This interview was carried out on July 24, 1995).
Tanzanian public hospitals have become danger zones for nurses, who have fallen victim to
drastically reduced government spending on health. Doctors at Muhimbili Medical Center
(MMC), the country's biggest referral hospital, say six nurses died there in September alone,
including three who contracted cholera after attending to patients without protective gear. An
average of five nurses die every month after being infected by patients. It is not only at MMC
that such deaths have been reported. Sources from the Tanzania Nurses Association told IPS
that they had received similar complaints from Bugando Medical Center and Kilimanjaro
Christian Medical Center (KCMC). According to the association, an average of two nurses die
every month at Bugando and one at KCMC. A senior official at MMC identified tuberculosis,
cholera, the plague and meningitis as the main causes of deaths among nurses. He admitted
that hospitals do not have enough funds for protective gear such as gloves, boots, aprons and
masks. "It is very dangerous to work under the current conditions where protective gear is seen
as a luxury," said Rashid Mussa, a nursing officer at MMC (IPS 1995).
This section argued that the provision of health services in urban areas is skewed and
favors the rich. The poor not only suffer by living in very poor environmental conditions, but
when they get sick, access to health institutions and good treatment is not easy. Why is this so?
How can this situation be explained? The section below looks at the kind of social processes
which have brought Tanzania into this situation.

6. Dependent Urbanization

It is important to know the historical factors which have contributed to the evolution of
contemporary urban forms, their associated socio-economic structures, their urban-rural
context, and how they contribute to rampant poverty in urban areas. This analysis requires a

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 1, Issue 2 I 1997

30 I Lugalla

brief discussion of how colonialism transformed the traditional political economy of Tanzania
by replacing it with structures of dependency and underdevelopment.
To suggest that economic reforms undertaken by Tanzania have caused the economic crisis
and urban poverty is ahistorical. Poverty existed in urban Tanzania before SAPs began.
Therefore the decay of the urban environment as well as the predominance of urban poverty in
Tanzania must be placed in historical context. Colonial policies laid down the roots of urban
poverty and, unfortunately, post-colonial policies fed these roots rather than uprooted them.
This argument has important implications as far as policy formulation is concerned. It suggests
that abolishment of SAPs will not necessarily eliminate poverty or improve the living
conditions of people in urban Tanzania. The latter requires a radical transformation of the socio-
economic relations of dependency which enhance underdevelopment of the one hand, and
generate poverty on the other.
Since Tanzania became independent, post-colonial policies have not succeeded in altering
the pattern of urbanization inherited from the colonial economy. The only major change which
occurred was the substitution of white colonial administrators with black African elites as key
people in urban politics. The dependent nature of the economy has continued to be the same
and SAP policies of free market systems and liberalization of trade are in fact compounding the
situation of dependency and therefore exacerbating exploitation and intensifying conditions
which generate poverty rather than eradicating it. Dependent development has influenced the
formulation of health policies. The distribution of government health spending has continued to
be heavily biased towards curative services rather than community based health care
approaches or preventive strategies. Until 1995, the curative approach was 77.9 percent of the
total government expenditure, while community based care and preventive approaches
received only 6.7 percent and 15.4 percent, respectively (World Bank 1995: XXXII).
Urban development in Tanzania has been characterized by the adoption of a socio-
economic system with significant inequalities. This has taken place without proper planning
and has led to the creation of unstructured urban areas which have substandard infrastructure.
Colonial urban planning policies favored the interests of those who commanded social and
political power. They introduced a system of social organization of urban space which favored
social relations of inequality. The zoning system segregated residential areas in terms of high,
medium and low density residential zones which in practice meant poor, middle and high
income earners. This marked the beginning of residential segregation by class in urban
Tanzania. Unfortunately, the situation has been made worse by post-independent policies of
urban planning which have not only adopted the colonial policies wholesale, but have added to
the list another type of residential area which is considered as "overcrowded." This kind of
segregation influences the way in which the state provides the basic urban services and
infrastructure. These policies have therefore continued to generate segregation and poorly
organized and financed urban space, excluding the majority of the urban people from enjoying
social services necessary for good health.
Dar-es-Salaam is divided into four main types of residential areas, the environmental
conditions of which reflect the class nature of their residents. The first residential area is that of
the affluent population. It includes all the Indian Ocean beaches like Oyster Bay, Msasani,
Masaki, Mbezi and Tegeta. Other areas are Mikocheni, Regent and Ada estates and some few

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 1, Issue 2 I 1997

Economic Reforms and Health Conditions of the Urban Poor in Tanzania I 31

parts of East Kinondoni. These areas, inhabited by higher income social groups, who have
access to social and political power, also have easy access to basic social and civic service
facilities and satisfactory levels of health care. Government ministers, diplomats, permanent
secretaries, managers or director generals of local and foreign companies, and very successful
private business people live in these places.
The second residential area characterized as medium density, accommodates most of the
middle-income earners. This includes areas like Sinza, Kijitonyama, Kurasini, Mlalakua, some
parts of Makongo and Upanga. These follow the above affluent areas in terms of the
infrastructure and social services. Although some of them originally started as squatters, (i.e.,
Makongo) they have now improved considerably. Some of these areas have been surveyed and
their occupants have official land title deeds.
The third type is the high density area which includes Ilala, Magomeni, Manzese,
Mwananyamala and Temeke. These are basically low working-class residential areas. Some are
up-graded squatter settlements but are still characterized by housing of low standard, built of
impermanent materials and lacking facilities like water, drainage and centrally connected
sewage systems.
The fourth type of residential area is the one considered as overcrowded. This type
includes all the squatter settlements which are occupied by the urban poor. These include
Vingunguti, Hananasif, Ubungo Kisiwani, Mabibo, Buguruni, Kiwalani, Shimo la Udongo,
Kipawa and several others. The majority of the people who live in these areas are poor and
desperate. They do not have access to a variety of urban benefits like paid formal employment.
Most of them survive on incomes generated from marginal jobs. They experience worse living
conditions than the people living in the other residential areas. Seventy percent of the urban
population in Tanzania live in these areas.
Clearly, then, the social organization of urban space mirrors the correlation between
income and access to health services, hygiene, sanitation facilities, transport, good housing and
good education. The nature of these facilities reflects the class inequality that exists in Dar-es-
Salaam and the close correlation between low income levels, lack of services and health. In a
situation where the government is experiencing severe financial constraints, the limited budget
available tends to be used to improve the environmental situation of the high standard areas
because these areas accommodate those who wield economic and political power.
This kind of social organization of space in urban areas has not happened accidentally, but
is planned, and reflects the colonial legacy in urban planning. It also confirms the relationship
existing between ideology, politics and urban planning. For example, the post-master plan for
Dar-es-Salaam, published in 1968, and the Master Plan for the Capital City of Dodoma, which
came out in 1976, recognize social and class differentiation, and perpetuate it by emphasizing
the quality of urban residential areas along the lines of class income and social status. The
master plan for Dar-es-Salaam uses terms including "high standard," "medium standard" and
"low standard" residential areas. These areas are supposed to differ from each other in terms of
the following: the "high standard" area must contain high-priced, private homes, paved roads,
street lighting, adequate water, power supply and should be linked to a central sewage; the
"medium standard" area should have medium-priced National Housing Corporation homes
and private houses, paved roads, power, water connections, and public septic service; the "low

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32 I Lugalla

standard" areas are supposed to be self-built houses capable of accommodating multi-families.
Roads should be unpaved and houses should have pit latrines or septic tanks. Power should be
provided in the collector streets only.
The master plan for Dodoma adopted the same system but used different terms, namely
"low density" (high standard), "medium density" (medium standard) and "high density" (low
standard) areas. It is clear from these master plans that the urban poor are not a priority in these
urban development policies. Since the organization of urban space reflects the socio-economic
inequalities existing in urban Tanzania, it has highly influenced the provision of health services
precisely because the latter is also influenced by this situation. Severe financial constraints mean
that the poor are now completely forgotten in the development processes.
At present, the situation is made worse because Tanzania has identified development with
modernization, which is a social process equated with Westernization. This path of
development runs against national ability, values and traditions. The emphasis on
Westernization is leading to resource constraints; it is now proving difficult for Tanzania to
provide the basic necessities of life to everybody. Hence, modernization can be identified as
benefiting only the privileged. It has led to two distinct lifestyles, namely "traditional" and
"modern" or "affluent." This is evident in housing, employment, and more particularly in terms
of facilities available to different social classes. The existence of squatter settlements co-existing
with luxurious housing structures in urban areas and the increasing number of tourist hotels in
urban areas amidst few inadequate public owned health and medical care facilities are concrete
examples of how dependency has been internalized in Tanzania and how it is leading to urban
inequality and urban poverty. It is now indisputable that urban poverty and environmental
problems as well as those associated with urban health in Tanzania are products of the broader
politics in Tanzania. The decay of the urban system is a reflection of how these politics manifest
themselves at a micro level.
Ever since colonialism, policies adopted have emphasized the exploitation of the
countryside by insisting on production of cash crops instead of food crops. As a result,
Tanzania's economy has always been externally oriented and is not able to satisfy internal
demands. Policies which emphasize the improvement of rural conditions of life have been very
rare. If any, (i.e., Ujamaa socialist policies) their implementation has had its own limitations.
One may want to know whether the situation in Tanzania would have been better without the
introduction of SAPs and donor support. This is a difficult question. Many recent studies
confirm that the majority of the population are now having difficulties in making ends meet
(World Bank 1995; Bagachwa 1994; Gibbon 1993; Lugalla 1995; Schmied 1996). This is a clear
indication that things are worsening rather than improving.
If one looks at the history of development in Tanzania, one notes that during the period
characterized by Ujamaa policies, which can roughly be considered as the period between 1967
to the late 1970s, Tanzania attained a variety of successes in social development initiatives.
Private schools and hospitals were nationalized, the government began providing free
education and health care services. Through the primary health care development strategy, the
government built many rural health centers and many secondary and primary schools. The
budget for social services was enormous. As a result, literacy rates rose, access to education and

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Economic Reforms and Health Conditions of the Urban Poor in Tanzania I 33

health care increased for the majority of the people, and the standard of living improved. This is
also confirmed by the following narratives from urban and rural informants.
Things have changed nowadays in urban areas. The roads are bad, the cost of living is
high, houses for rent are not available, schools have no desks and hospitals are lacking
everything from personnel to equipment. A resident of Kinondoni, Dar-es-Salaam, showed
dissatisfaction with the present situation in the following statement:
Nchi imeharibika. Enzi za Ujamaa mambo hayakuwa hivi. Maisha siku hivi ni magumu
The country is now torn asunder. Things were not like this during the era of Ujamaa. Life is
now very difficult (Translated by the author. Urban informant, Dar-es-Salaam, August 1995).
A rural resident from Sumve Mwanza seems to support the above opinions in the
following way:
Watu wangi wamakimbilia mijini kwa sababu vijijini hukukaliki. Maisha ni magumu mno.
Bei za karibu kila kitu ziko juu sana. Shule hazina walimu. Kwenye vituo vya afya huwezi
kupewa dawa mpaka uhonge. Rushwa imekuwa ndiyo mtindo wa maisha vijijini na mijini kwa
sababu mishahara ya wafanyakari haitoshi. Mambo hayakuwa hivi miaka ya sitini na sabini.
Many people are running for towns because village life is unbearable. Prices of almost
everything are so high. The schools do not have enough teachers. You cannot get medicine in
rural health centres unless you bribe. Bribing is now a way of life in both rural and urban areas
because the salaries workers get are not enough. This was not like this in the sixties and
seventies (Translated by author. Rural informant, Sumve Mwanza, Tanzania, July 1995).
Many people acknowledge that in the period before the crisis and SAPs things were
relatively better. This is not to say that policies were perfect, but now under SAPs, the
government has abandoned those redistribution policies which focused on improving the
quality of life for the majority of the people. Expenditure in social services has been reduced
drastically and my previous studies on the impact of SAPs on education and health show that
the majority of the people are having difficulties in accessing good education and health care
(Lugalla 1993: 184-214; Lugalla 1995a: 43-53). In a recent study on "Social Sectors in Tanzania",
the World Bank itself has admitted that the gross primary school enrollments which reached
nearly 100 percent in 1979 to the early 1980s has now dropped to less than 70 percent (World
Bank 1995: XVII). The Bank also admits that growth has been accompanied by greater inequality
and that the really poor at the bottom appear to have fallen far behind (ibid.).

7. Recommendations

One aspect which requires emphasis and understanding is that the urban people, poor and
rich alike, understand how social services in cities are provided. The people interviewed in two
settlements know that they are living in an environment which puts their health at risk, but they
cite their poverty as the main limiting factor. The government officials also know that parts of
urban areas are filthy and therefore vulnerable to epidemics. It is unclear, however, whether
they understand that it is the government's development policies which are responsible for
these conditions. A statement made by a Dar-es-Salaam City Council Land officer, summarized
below, reveals concretely the official view concerning squatters:

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34 I Lugalla

Squatter problems may take so many years to get solved. We have done our best to restrict
these people in building in these risky areas but they do not listen. The floods are also assisting
us in sweeping away these settlements but still these funny houses continue to mushroom.
People are leaving their good rural areas in order to come and live in this hopeless situation.
What do you do with such people? The government has always been repatriating the jobless to
their rural areas but the next day they are back again. I think the government must use force.
This may also solve the problem of increasing rate of crimes.
Certainly official policies which are influenced by this kind of view are bound to
criminalize the poor as if they are responsible for their poverty. These officials need to be
educated. Looking at political practices in Tanzania, it is clear that there is a serious discrepancy
between theory and practice in the question of how urban poverty can be eliminated. Despite
the extreme poverty, basic health education could alleviate some of the factors that put the poor
at risk. There is a need for people to be well informed about methods of prevention. For
example, they need to know that unhygienic practices are likely to be the cause of their health
problems. These practices may include handling water in unclean vessels, leaving food
uncovered from flies, and not washing hands before handling food. Lack of government
support in solving these environmental problems has led to the creation of a variety of grass-
roots level organizations that are interested in protecting the environment in most urban areas,
but particularly in Dar-es-Salaam. If the government is serious about these issues, it will have to
cooperate with such organizations in order to improve the urban environment.
Poverty is at the center of environmental and health problems in urban Tanzania. The
urban poor are the most needy people but the least assisted by government policies. They are
the most vulnerable population in the urban system and government policies must aim at
assisting them. Once food and good shelter are offered to these people through easy access to
well paying employment opportunities and credit schemes, more efforts must be directed at
solving their environmental related health problems. Basic sanitary services and refuse
collection must be provided. Prevention programs focusing on immunization and ante-natal
care could prevent communicable diseases.
Since poverty is the main problem, any long-term solution must focus at tackling this social
problem. In doing this, one must be cognizant of the fact that poverty is not only a function of
disposable income but is also a state of relative lack of access to other resources such as
information, social networks, adequate time and space, and above all, the decision-making
process that affects the lives of the poor. Poverty-oriented strategies must target the poor.
Indirect approaches that rely on the proper functioning of the micro-economy may not benefit
the poor, even by following the New International Economic Order, or the World Bank and
International Monetary Fund models. Although the active role of the government in the fight
against poverty is necessary, it often hurts the poorest of the poor by formalizing their informal
processes (Sanyal 1988: 79).
Tanzania's urban poverty is a reflection of rural poverty. Therefore, efforts to tackle urban
poverty must also focus on improving the conditions of life in the countryside. In Tanzania,
there is extensive rural-urban migration. Seventy percent of the urban population are migrants
from the rural areas. Policies must seek to address the question: Why do people run away from
the countryside? People migrate to towns and cities because of the difficulties of rural life.

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Economic Reforms and Health Conditions of the Urban Poor in Tanzania I 35

Access to productive land is difficult. The methods of production as well as the instruments
used in agriculture are still traditional and therefore income derived from agriculture is not
sufficient for living a good life. Social services, communication infrastructure, and other basic
necessities of life are underdeveloped and the chances for establishing small scale income-
generating projects are rare. In fact, the very poor urban migrants are relatively better off than
their rural poor counterparts. This means that new policies must make sure that rural Tanzania
is an attractive place to live. This can be done by promoting social and economic development
in the countryside. This may limit rural-urban migration, which can then limit the urban
population pressure and possibly reduce the scale of urban environmental problems. Only
policies which are part of an overall socio-economic development plan can bring positive
These recommendations assume that Tanzania has a government which is capable of
implementing these policies. Although committed leadership, good governance and
accountability are the preconditions for success, the participation of Tanzania in the global
socio-economic system suggests that strategies adopted by Tanzania in order to solve poverty
can only succeed if there is an enabling international environment. It is very unlikely that
Tanzania can manage to accomplish this alone. In order to change the design of SAPs, Tanzania
needs to question the role of the World Bank and the IMF. Things can change only if these
institutions are subject to democratic control and accountability, and if the structures of
dependency are radically altered. It is in this area that international collaboration is required in
order to make radical changes in the global economic system.

8. Conclusion

In conclusion, it is important to strongly affirm that the position of this paper has not been
to argue that SAPs policies are the initial cause of poverty in Tanzania. In fact, our analysis of
the process of dependent urbanization has been presented here in order to address the historical
roots of poverty and social inequality existing in Tanzania. The focus of this paper has been to
show concretely that the arguments propagated by contemporary neoliberals and institutions
like the World Bank and IMF that SAPs are capable of solving the social-economic crisis
confronting countries in sub-Saharan Africa do not hold true for Tanzania. Examples from
Tanzania show that SAPs have exacerbated hardships and are therefore enhancing poverty
rather than alleviating it. Their emphasis on reducing government expenditure in unproductive
sectors of the economy is leading to negative trends in social development in urban areas,
including physical and civic infrastructure. The urban environment is now decaying
progressively rather than improving with deleterious consequences on people's health. The
adoption of SAPs seems to be hurting the poor instead of assisting them. The urban poor live in
an environment which is conducive to ill-health, and have severe difficulties in accessing both
private and public health institutions because of the introduction of user charges. Although
poverty lies at the center of these problems, SAP programs are failing to address this problem
adequately. It is important for Tanzania to implement development strategies that focus on
human beings. They must strive to improve the welfare of the majority people. Without this,
Tanzania will be, "draining the pond in order to catch the fish."

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 1, Issue 2 I 1997

36 I Lugalla

Acknowledgments: I wish to acknowledge the assistance of the International Development
Research Council (IDRC) of Ottawa Canada for funding the research project. I would like to
convey my sincere thanks to Dr. Kondoro of the University of Dar-es-Salaam, Mr. Majani of
Ardhi Institute in Tanzania and Professors Steve Reyna and Nina Glick Schiller of the
Department of Anthropology at the University of New Hampshire in USA and the anonymous
reviewers for reading the earlier drafts of this paper and providing constructive criticisms.


Afro-Aid Development Consultants, 1991. A Survey of the Living and Working Conditions of
Primary and Secondary School Teachers in Mainland Tanzania. Mimeo, Dar-es-Salaam,

Bagachwa, M.S.D. (ed.), 1994. Poverty Alleviation in Tanzania: Recent Research Issues, Dar-es-
Salaam University Press, Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania.

Daily News Paper, 1995. September 5.

Environment and Urbanization, 1990. Vol. 2 No. 2, October

Gibbon, P., 1993. Social Change and Economic Reform in Africa. Scandinavian Institute of
African Studies. Uppsala, Sweden.

International Labour Office (ILO), 1982. Basic Needs in Danger: A Basic Needs Oriented
Development Strategy for Tanzania. Jobs and Skills Programme for Africa. Addis Ababa. pp.

Inter Press Service (IPS) of Harare, 1995. Internet communication of October 6.

Kahama, G. C. et al., 1986. The Challenge for Tanzania's Economy. James Curry and Tanzania
Publishing House, Dar-es-Salaam.

Kulaba, S. M., 1989. Urban Management and the Delivery of Urban Services in Tanzania: A
Research Project Report Jointly Funded by International Development Research Centre, Ottawa,
Canada and the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania. Final Report. Ardhi Institute,

-----------., 1985. Managing Rapid Urban Growth through Sites and Services and Squatter
Upgrading in Tanzania: Lessons and Experiences. In Crooke, P. (ed.), Management of Sites and
Services and Squatter Upgrading, Housing Areas Occasional Paper. Centre for Housing Studies,
Ardhi Institute, Tanzania.

Lugalla, J. L. P., 1995a. The Impact of Structural Adjustment Policies on Women's and
Children's Health in Tanzania. Review of African Political Economy. No. 63.

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-----------., 1995b. Crisis, Urbanization and Urban Poverty in Tanzania: A Study of Urban
Poverty and Survival Politics. University Press of America, Lanham, Maryland, USA.

-----------., 1993. Structural Adjustment Policies and Education Sector, In Gibbon, P. (ed.) Social
Change and Economic Reform in Africa. Scandinavian Institute of African Studies. Uppsala,

------------., 1990. Socialist Construction and the Urbanization Process in Tanzania: An Analysis
of Urban Poverty and Politics. Unpublished Ph.D. Thesis. University of Bremen, Federal
Republic of Germany.

Sanyal, B., 1988. The Urban Informal Sector Revisited: Some Notes on the Relevance of the
Concept in the 1980s. Third World Planning Review, Vol. 10, No. 1, pp. 79.

Schmied, D., 1996. Changing Rural Structures in Tanzania, Lit Verlag, Hamburg, Germany.

Sunday News Paper, 1995. August 13.

Tanzania Gender Networking Programme (TGNP), 1993. Gender Profile of Tanzania. Dar- Es-
Salaam, Tanzania.

UNICEF, 1990. Women and Children in Tanzania: An Overview Dar-es-Salaam.

United Republic of Tanzania, 1995. Statistical Abstracts of Tanzania, Bureau of Statistics,
President's Office, Planning Commission, Dar-es-Salaam

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Planning Commission, Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania. World Bank, (1995) Tanzania: Social Sector
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African Studies Quarterly I Volume 1, Issue 2 I 1997

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 1, Issue 2 I 1997


Transgressing Boundaries: New Directions in the Study of Culture in Africa. Edited by
Brenda Cooper and Andrew Steyn. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press. 1996. 226 pp.

This collection of essays is based on a September 1993 conference at the University of Cape
Town that concerned the status of African Studies in South Africa. The collection consists of
revised papers and discussions presented at the conference as well as papers commissioned
afterwards. The editors' intention is to examine the state of African cultural studies in South
Africa from a variety of viewpoints and to highlight some of the issues in contemporary theory
and method that are debated among Africanist scholars. Additionally, the pros and cons of
eradicating the boundaries between the traditional disciplines is discussed at length by several
of the contributors. In the introduction, the editors' note that "African Studies" does not exist in
South Africa as a discipline per se, but rather, these "studies" span widely divergent
departments and disciplines. As a result, they are "situated within diverse politics, language,
theories and methodologies (p. 1)."
This is a timely and interesting topic of discussion. South Africa's political and social
structures have changed profoundly in the past few years, and the country's relationship with
the rest of Africa has changed as well. Unfortunately, Cooper and Steyn's understandable desire
to present a wide array of theoretical, methodological, and disciplinary viewpoints diminishes
the overall coherence of the book. One problem is the definition of "African Studies." What is
meant by this phrase changes throughout the book depending upon the author. For example,
most of the contributors use the term to refer to South African cultural studies undertaken in
South Africa, but when filmmaker Haile Gerima discusses "African cinema," he uses the term in
the broadest sense. A related problem with the collection is the lack of coherence that results
from presenting such a diverse array of subjects: the essays included range from lucid
discussions of contemporary theory in the social sciences to movie reviews. The book's
structure, however, is not entirely without merit. In certain instances, the editors have wisely
chosen to maintain the conference-like format in which critics respond to specific articles. This a
useful way to present the larger theoretical and methodological debates discussed, as both the
major issues that are in dispute are elucidated. Additionally, this method reveals the difficulty
of taking different theoretical viewpoints and disciplinary backgrounds and bringing them to
bear on an inherently broad and diverse field such as area studies.
The book is divided into three main sections. The first, entitled "Mapping the Field," deals
with the theoretical issues that are raised in contemporary African studies, especially in the
South African context. The discussions primarily revolve around current debates about the
applications of post-modernism and Marxism as theoretical models. Although there is
considerable difference of opinion on specific issues, particularly regarding the utility of


University of Florida Board of Trustees, a public corporation of the State of Florida; permission is hereby granted for individuals
to download articles for their own personal use. Published by the Center for African Studies, University of Florida.
ISSN: 2152-2448


boundaries between the disciplines, the three authors featured in this section (Lovell, Bundy,
and Comaroff) all agree that some rapprochement between Marxism and post-modernist
approaches to cultural studies is necessary to further the field. Each author stresses the
importance of recognizing both the "subject positions" (to use Comaroff's terminology) of the
individuals studied and the effects of techno-economic and environmental factors on culture.
Each author recognizes that neither cultural relativism nor "totalizing" reductionist paradigms
are sufficiently able to explain human behavior, however, this can hardly be considered a "new
direction" in the study of culture in Africa or anywhere else. American anthropology has been
fraught with variations of the "idealist" v. "materialist" debate for decades.
The second and largest section is comprised of a diverse collection of what the editors call
"case studies." The material presented here includes two examples of colonial discourse analysis
on descriptions of indigenous South African poison, as well as an informative discussion and
debate about the symbolic significance of the Lydenburg heads (South African terracotta
sculptures from the sixth century AD, one of which is depicted on the University of Cape
Town's Centre for African Studies letter-head). The latter involves an archaeologist (Martin
Hall), a museum curator (Patricia Davison), and an artist (Malcolm Payne), all of whom have
worked with the sculptures. This is "Transgressing Boundaries" at its best: the debate between
these three contributors elucidates some of the conflicts and the benefits that result from cross-
disciplinary studies. Furthermore, the authors explicitly place the subject in the context of
contemporary South Africa.
Other case-studies have little to do with the status of African studies in South Africa, except
insofar as they apply to African studies undertaken anywhere. These include a personal
statement from Ethiopian filmmaker Haile Gerima, two reviews of his film about slavery,
"Sankofa", and an essay about the depiction of Africa's slave past in contemporary West African
literature. Among other things, these articles delve into essentialist approaches to African
studies, approaches that the editors' clearly reject. Apparently, the focus on the subject of
slavery and the subsequent discussion of African essentialism were unintended consequences
of a screening of "Sankofa" at the 1993 conference (p. 164). Despite the interesting subject matter,
this group of case studies seems inappropriate for the collection, as they contribute almost
nothing to the reader's understanding of the state of African studies in South Africa.
The final section is intended to tie some of the book's loose ends together, and to present
possible future directions for African Studies. In a concluding article, Brenda Cooper discusses
the representation of slavery in the fiction of Sierra-Leonian author Syl Cheney-Coker in the
context of "the theoretical paradigm of the reconstituted Marxism, as proposed by Bundy [in
Part One] (p. 11)." She proposes an approach to African studies that she summarizes as follows:
"...it investigates Africa's position globally; it is both interdisciplinary but also takes as its
boundary of investigation a broadly defined cultural studies; it is standpoint knowledge,
committed politically to the oppressed; in an African environment where cultural nationalism
that relies on myths of origins and essences is very powerful, the history of iniquities of racism
has to be formulated in terms of a reconstituted Marxism that can think structurally and
globally. It must, however, in speaking holistically, deal with global realities and totalities,
while not marginalising non-class realities and while recognizing and celebrating, humour,
magic, the unpredictable and idiosyncratic, all of which holistic thinking demands (p.183)"
What Cooper is describing here is a platonic concept that exists only in the realm of ideas. She

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 1, Issue 2 I 1997


does not disclose the means by which one can expect to achieve this perfect result, nor do either
of the other two concluding essays contain a proposed solution to the problem of African
cultural studies as outlined in the introduction. As a result, Cooper and Steyn's main
achievement in presenting these essays as a collection is that to expose the utter confusion and
directionlessness that pervades contemporary cultural studies.

Kristen Jacobson
Department of Anthropology
University of Florida

Changing The Rules: The Politics of Liberalization and the Urban Informal Economy in
Tanzania. Aili Mari Tripp. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 1997. 260 pp.

Changing the Rules probes the informal economy of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in search of
the origins and causes of the shifting political and economic landscape as experienced by urban
residents during the 1980's and 1990's. The informal economy, which Tripp casts as the focal
point of changes, consists of more than a set of economic patterns (p.xiii); it also represents "a
manifestation of societal noncompliance with the state, a tool for institutional change in
challenging state norms of fairness and economic justice, a means of creating new institutional
resources" (p.xv). This approach, blending the discrimination of an economic anthropologist
with a systemic approach to political change, yields a scholarly work that is remarkable both for
the depth of its research as well as the freshness of its approach.
Tripp's innovation in Changing the Rules is to link James Scott's explanations of resistance
and moral economy to Goran Hyden's work on the implications for the state of having a
peasantry that successfully evades state control (Scott, 1976, 1990 and Hyden, 1980). In so doing
she broadens this literature to include a specific urban focus, while also expanding upon our
understanding of the informal economy as a form of resistance. At the core, resistance springs
from a breakdown in the tacit agreement between the government apparatus and the governed.
In Tanzania's case, this rupture could be traced to the failures of Ujamaa which led to the
impoverishment of millions of Tanzanians. Using extensive interviews, Tripp expands our
understanding of resistance by first establishing parallels between the "safety first" orientation,
sacrificing short-run maximization for long-run sustainability, and the tactical strategies of
Scott's Malay villagers. She elaborates this argument by showing how the informal economy
grew, and to become a weapon of resistance. Consequent to the inability of urban residents to
sustain themselves, an explosion of informal economic activity ensued, directly contravening
the extant juridical framework and its clear prohibitions on most private enterprise (p. 137). In
resorting to extra-legal ventures, this resistance elicited changes in the both the legal framework
of government and the mindset of many within the ruling party. Tripp's argument here is
cogent and logical and the array of evidence she has marshaled to support the argument
portrays serious scholarship. The defect in this research, and it is a slight one, is that her
respondents who were engaging in projects of self-employment activities were essentially self-

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 1, Issue 2 I 1997


selecting and thus there is a slight lingering question as to whether her data is broadly
applicable to all workers in Dar es Salaam or just to those engaged in projects.
To appreciate the events occurring during this period, one must also have a sense of the
concurrent struggle between party and government in the mid 1980's. This latter contention was
centered on the basic question of the proper boundaries of party power over government. Post-
independence cohesion was already unraveling by the mid 80's when Julius Nyerere stepped
down as President, retaining his chairmanship of the party and in so doing exacerbating the
fray, which by then, had increasingly become centered on the question of liberalization (p.83).
The jockeying was further complicated by Nyerere's sudden U-turn from opponent to
proponent of the economic changes, in contradiction to past statements. As it played itself out,
the struggle was fought between party members, who owed their political careers to the party
and the party's control over economic decision-making, and the cabinet, supported by
importers and exporters (p.89). Left unclear in this discussion is why bureaucrats, many of
whom also owed their success to using the system, abandoned a system which had served them
personally well in favor of liberalization and greater transparency. Paradoxically, the people,
including the urban poor, who might have sided with the party in an attempt to forestall the
austerity measures (such as eliminating price subsidies) accompanying liberalization, instead
quietly acquiesced to reforms. This complicity reflected both a desire for the sanctioning of
private activities that remained illicit in the face of massive disobedience as well as a weary
recognition, borne of the pressing struggle for daily survival, that regardless of the victor,
neither contestant could do much to improve the plight of the poor and the middle classes
Arguably two developments have been the most prominent features of the changing
Tanzania circa 1985-1995. The first of these has been the increasing reliance placed by families
upon the incomes earned, particularly by women, from "projects" or microenterprises. In many
families, dependence has shifted from family members to the wage earner (p. 105). Thus, the
roles and the importance of women were reexamined. For women with successful projects, the
physical and financial independence earned by this hard work was an important byproduct of
the struggle for survival. The second noteworthy development has been the increase in the
strength of associational life as manifested in an enervated civil society flourishing with small
associational groups such as Upato savings societies or Sungu Sungu self defense groups
(pp.199-200). If civil society is understood as a critical component of the governance realm, the
achievements of these small groups in extracting demands from the government must be
construed as a valuable boost to governance. By concentrating her attention on these two areas,
Tripp makes a significant contribution toward raising our awareness of two factors which have
not always received the attention that they merit.
Changing the Rules tackles a crucial question in many countries: 'how did individuals, in
the face of diminishing or absent salaries, manage to survive?' Tripp's answer begins with the
organic causes of crisis and the external factors that precipitated the widespread resort to
entrepreneurship and petty trading in an effort to survive. In so doing, these individuals also
became the catalysts of change as the political structure was forced to adjust to new realities in
an attempt to retain legitimacy. This explanation of change is a compelling argument for how,
and why, changes occurred, and on the whole is an important contribution toward increasing
our understanding of informal economies in urban areas.

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 1, Issue 2 I 1997



Hyden, Goran 1980. Beyond Ujamaa in Tanzania: Underdevelopment and an Uncaptured
Peasantry. London: Heinemann.

Scott, James C. 1990. Domination and the Arts of Resistance. New Haven: Yale University Press.

1976. The Moral Economy of The Peasant. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Christopher Johnson
Department of Political Science
University of Florida

Africans: The History of a Continent. John Iliffe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Pp. 323. 1995.

During the 1960s and 1970s, historians writing general histories of Africa highlighted state
formation, African agency, or economic underdevelopment as issues central to understanding
Africa's past. In the 1980s new topical foci emerged in African history revolving around culture
and the environment. John Iliffe's Africans: The History of a Continent is the result of attentions
to each of the aforementioned but is ordered by a skeleton of demographic issues; it is the first
general attempt to trace and understand African history through the larger theme of population
and demographic change. Central issues include environmental impacts on the growth and
character of African populations and African responses to the challenges of their physical and
historical contexts. Iliffe hopes to produce a coherent history of ordinary African peoples
guided by internal processes and the rationale that, "Every rural history must have at its core a
population history" (p.3). In the author's eyes, population change is the "thread that ties African
history together"(p.5).
With the above over-arching organizational theme in mind, Iliffe identifies four central
topical themes in African history, each of which pervades his text. The first of these is the
peopling of the African continent. Iliffe portrays Africans as "colonizers" of vast frontiers who
struggled against harsh environments, scarce and dispersed resources, and deadly diseases.
According to the author, the stressful settlement of frontiers produced societies specialized in
maximizing their numbers, extending their territories, and coping with suffering. All of this
prepared Africans for future demographic challenges, such as the slave trade and the European
The second theme is human coexistence with nature. Africans fully utilized their available
resources in an effort to increase their numbers and thereby strengthen their communities. They
usually achieved success by adapting to and controlling their environments rather than severely
altering them. Iliffe provides the following example: Africans sought to protect themselves
against famine through various strategies, "exploitation of multiple environments, diversified
and drought-resistant crops, interplanting, granaries, livestock as a famine reserve, [and] the

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 1, Issue 2 I 1997


cultivation of social relations" (p.113). A creative use of nature and adaptation to nature allowed
Africans to survive, although in underpopulated numbers.
The establishment of enduring societies is the third theme. These societies, Iliffe contends,
took their form -- states or loosely-organized communities -- based on population densities,
interaction with neighboring societies, and socio-political and socio-economic contextual
factors. Iliffe illustrates these points with numerous examples ranging from the early states of
West Africa to the pastoral communities of eastern and southern Africa. The author describes
specific African cultures and their associated political structures. Further, he argues that the
cultures of these variously-structured societies took distinctively African forms due to their
partial isolation from and their partial integration with their larger Old World context (p.4).
The final theme -- the defense of African societies against foreign aggression -- centers on
two historical phenomena, the slave trade and colonialism. Resistance, negotiation, and
adaptation were the means by which Africans sought to defend their societies. Due to
population growth checks or depletions in some areas resulting from the slave trade or colonial
impingement, biological reproduction was paramount to community survival. Up to the
remnants of colonialism in South Africa, populations continued to grow and adjust to various
impediments to their livelihoods, largely through cultural mechanisms developed from earlier
struggles for survival. Demographic growth finally becomes a pronounced engine for historical
change, undergirding the fall of colonial regimes and the instability of independent African
states. Iliffe concludes that Africans' chief contribution to world history is that they "colonised
an especially hostile region of the world"(p.1). Their success is realized in substantial modern
population growth.
Iliffe's integrative and dynamic approach incorporates the concerns of preceding scholars
while achieving a textual balance. The historical perspective of the author is noticeably even-
handed, particularly concerning colonialism. Iliffe writes, "To see colonialism as destroying
tradition is to underestimate African resilience. To see it as merely an episode is to
underestimate how much industrial civilization offered twentieth-century Africans" (p.212).
Nearly equal treatment of geographical regions is provided, including a considerable discussion
of North Africa during the pre-modern era. Time periods also receive relatively equal attention.
Of note, the early history of Africa from the first evidence of food-producing to late iron-using
communities is discussed in two brief chapters. This is made possible by Iliffe's continued
reference to archaeology and, to a lesser extent, linguistics in these chapters. Finally, Africa's
internal workings are tempered with references to its global context. In constructing Africans,
Iliffe makes use of a range of recent literature on everything from art history to current affairs to
create a complex text rich in historical and cultural examples.
There are few shortfalls in Iliffe's general history. For this reader, most are issues of
emphasis or terminology. First, Iliffe generally characterizes African agency as reactionary
rather than proactive. Much of what is meant to represent human volition in the work is simply
adaptation to contexts or circumstances. Consequently, at some points (but by no means all)
Africans appear to be in more of a biological than social struggle. Second, Iliffe occasionally
reduces cultural and historical phenomena to products of environmental or demographic
influence, rather than opting for alternative explanations. This is likely the product of both the
author's organizing theme and the difficulty of capturing social explanations with scant
historical evidence, especially beyond the more recent past. Third, Iliffe leaves causation open to

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 1, Issue 2 I 1997


question in certain instances. For example, in Chapter Five he writes, "Concern to build up
populations and colonise land gave western Africa enduring family structures" (p.93). Were
population growth and "colonization" the products or the causes of developing social
structures? Finally, Iliffe's use of the term colonisationn" to describe the movement of African
populations into uninhabited regions is suspect because, to the uninformed reader, it may be
confused with European "colonization." Although the author does take some pains to
differentiate between the two, the politically-charged nature of this term may be inescapable.
He also uses "race" (pp.10-11), implying a linkage between "races" and linguistic groups, and
"pagan" (pp.39, 90-91) in unwarranted manners. "Pagan" is especially odd since Iliffe elaborates
on the complex beliefs inherent to animistic societies. When viewed in total these shortfalls are
far from fatal.
Africans: The History of a Continent is a lucid work and is accessible to a wide range of
readers. It is ordered chronologically in twelve chapters, each containing a historical topic, for
example "Independent Africa." Maps aid the reader in locating pertinent sites and regions and a
fourteen page appended bibliography of readings allows for the further investigation of select
topics. This work represents a substantial achievement in the realm of general African histories.

Jonathan Walz
Department of Anthropology
University of Florida

Governing Conservation Change from Below

A reaction to "Africa's Environment: The Final Frontier, Hearing Before the Subcommittee on
Africa of the Committee on International Relations House of Representatives, One Hundred
Fourth Congress, Second Session, July 17, 1996."

Richard R. Marcus

Note: Statements at the Hearing were made by the following:

Hon. Gary Bombardier, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Africa, Agency for
International Development
Mr. Michael Wright, President and Chief Executive Officer, African Wildlife Foundation
Mr. Stephen Mills, Human Rights and Environmental Campaign Director, Sierra Club
Elizabeth Rihoy, Director, Washington Affairs, Africa Resources Trust

The Meeting was Conducted by:

Hon. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, The Subcommittee Chairperson, Subcommittee on Africa,
Committee on International Relations, U.S. House of Representatives.

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 1, Issue 2 I 1997


Without a doubt, the very fact that such a hearing as "Africa's Environment: The Final
Frontier" took place is a victory for all those concerned with the relationship between people
and the environment in which they live. This is a public recognition that, as the Honorable Ros-
Lehtinen stated, "the need to protect the environment knows no municipal, state or national
border. The environmental damage to one region of the world necessarily affects the global
environment." In Africa, the pressures on the environment are especially acute as conservation
is so tightly linked to land use, land use change, sustainable development, and the quality of
governance at the local and national levels. The critical nature of the problem has produced a
sizable number of environmental heroes. Certainly there is no challenging the personal strength
and community accomplishments of Wangari Mathai or Ken Saro-Wiwa. Donor and
international NGO efforts to work with such local leaders, to bridge disciplinary cleavages, to
reform devastating agricultural practices, and to empower people in their local communities
can only be commended. In this, the international community, and many host countries, have
reached a consensus. Indeed, we can even speak of a growing global norm positing that
environmental challenges are no longer domestic or functional concerns. They are, in fact,
critical challenges to national security, global security and human well-being.
With this seeking of the common good comes a great danger. This danger becomes clear by
looking at the title of the Hearing itself. "Africa's Environment: The Final Frontier" implies that
putting the environment first, or deeming it part of national and global security, gives license to
environmentally-concerned global powers to assert their will, for the good of humanity, over
those who have not adopted the new global norm. Africa's environment is not space, or the final
frontier. Conservationists are not boldly going where no one has gone before. People live there.
Most often, it is the people of these local communities that suffer most from the conservation
initiatives, and thus it is the people of these communities who are least likely to subscribe to
western conservation norms. Indeed, assuming there is a global norm claiming that
conservation is a global security issue, it suffers from many of the same top-down tendencies
which guided the development efforts of the 1960s and 1970s, despite project attempts to solicit
participation at the local level. This is evidenced by the tragic results of some of the most
"locally-sensitive" conservation projects in Africa such as Amboseli National Park in Kenya,
Korup National Park in Cameroon, and Mantadia National Park in Madagascar.
In Amboseli, with the establishment of the park in 1977, the local Maasai communities were
promised several benefits. First, to make up for restricting access to spring water within the
park boundaries, a pipeline was constructed to provide adequate water supply to the Maasai. In
addition, they were promised annual compensation for loss of grazing land and direct economic
benefits from development and tourism. However, by 1980, the new water system did not
supply enough water; after 1981, the compensation payments were irregular or lacking; and,
direct income from tourism was very limited as the tourism industry became tightly controlled
by Nairobi-based concerns (Lindsay 1987). The net effect of the park on the Maasai was
overwhelmingly negative.
Korup National Park in Cameroon presents another example. Villagers in the park and its
buffer zone rely on the park's wild game. While some of the meat is consumed locally as a
source of protein, most of it is sold for cash. In fact, hunting is the most important economic
activity in the area, generating about half of a village's total cash income. The next most
important economic activity in the area is collection of fruit and nuts both for consumption and

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 1, Issue 2 I 1997


for selling. Following the 1986 establishment of the Park, hunting in it was declared illegal. Yet,
the local residents were offered no adequate alternative means for income generation.
Moreover, although there are six villages within the park boundaries, development activities
did not take place within the park. Villagers in and around the park were left with no other
option, other than breaking the law and hunting illegally (Infield 1989). In this case,
conservation efforts were being undermined because local needs were not being addressed
adequately by project designers. That is, local villagers, making a rational choice, risked
substantial penalties or even imprisonment for poaching if it meant meeting their basic needs.
Finally, Mantadia National park of Madagascar has seen similar disastrous results. The
park has a severe impact on the local people, living in the villages surrounding the park, who
depend on the forest within the park for their livelihood. Kramer et al. (1994) calculated the
average annual income loss for local residents due to the establishment of the park to be
between $US90 and $US110 per household (1994). This is a significant reduction in income
considering the average regional income before the establishment of the park was lower than
the national 1992 per capital GNP of $US210 (World Bank 1995). While this study summarized
the effect of the newly created park in terms of economic loss, there are additional ways in
which local communities depend on forests including hunting and fishing, farming, and
collecting diverse forest products (Lewis 1990).
Even in cases where conservation programs have been more "successful" than the
aforementioned cases, the integration of local and international environmental interests have
met a lukewarm reception at best by local communities. This is evidenced by community
analyses of such "innovative" projects as Ankarana Protected Area (Gauthier 1996, Gezon 1995),
and Ranomafana National Park (Swanson 1996) in Madagascar which are at the forefront of
integrating local communities into international conservation project decision-making, and
Kibale National Park in Uganda (Treves-Naughton 1996) where local community benefit has
reached levels significantly higher than most projects.
It is tempting to argue that these problems are part of a learning process and that local
discomfort or even hardship is worthwhile if the goal is to conserve the environment for the
good of the human race. Conservation initiatives in Africa, however, have little chance of being
sustainable if they do not meet with broad local support. Democracy mandates that the local
population has a say in their community's well-being. As local democracy in Africa grows,
people have a greater potential to influence policy. They may opt not to support conservation
initiatives if they are too painful in the short-run. That is, the inherent "good" in
conservationism as a global norm, so apparent in western conservation circles, is not always so
apparent at the local level.
While increased participation may lead to a decline in local support for conservation
initiatives, it is exactly this participation at this local level that makes conservation program
success possible. To borrow from Robert Dahl (1971), democracy can only be regarded as "full"
when it reflects the will of the majority. Since the current wave of democracy sweeping through
Africa seeks, above all else, to reflect that public will at the grassroots level, conservation
programs need to be supported by the populous in the affected regions. That is, when a national
park, the cornerstone of conservation policy in much of Africa (a point made by Michael
Wright) is created, it must reflect the will of the people of that area. If it does not, then
conservation programs will likely proceed without local ratification, thereby detracting from

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 1, Issue 2 I 1997


improved local governance, rather than lending to it. The participants at the Hearing did not go
far enough in recognizing the role of the individual at the local level in the conservation
process. In effect, the Hearing seemed to echo a statement by Gary Bombardier that

"40 African countries have adopted, or are in the process of adopting National
Environmental Action Plans neapP). In the best of cases, such as Madagascar,
these are developed in highly participatory ways: set specific goals and
objectives; establish priorities for the limited use of funds; and become a
mechanism through which donors, host governments and people of Africa
jointly collaborate in attacking environmental problems."

This argument is rhetorically persuasive in that it recognizes the primacy of local voice in
the conservation process, a point further elaborated upon at the Hearing by Michael Wright. In
seeking local support for global conservation norms, what this position fails to note is that
fundamental to an individual's rights to participate is an individual's right not to participate,
and fundamental to a community's right to collaborate is a community's right not to collaborate.
In effect, Stephen Mills' point that human rights must include the right to protect the
environment works equally in reverse; human rights must include the right to reject
environmental initiatives. Just as Freedom of Religion is only guaranteed if individuals are
allowed not to pray, and Freedom of Expression is only guaranteed if individuals are allowed to
remain silent, so must individuals be allowed the right to "choose" conservation initiatives,
rather than have them thrust upon them. Otherwise, the possibility that the local population
will choose not to collaborate and to reject both conservation initiatives and democratization
programs as part and parcel of the same international attempt to undermine local standards of
living will increase. None of the statements at the Hearing recognize this primacy of individual
choice at the local level as an indicator of program success, let alone recognizing that individual
choice may determine program success. At the project level, USAID (via Pact, IFES, ARD,
WWF, diverse universities, and others) supports valuable education programs that can enhance
the likelihood that local populations will accept conservation initiatives, while seeking to
nurture civil society, and enhance a democratic political culture. However, these projects are
small efforts when compared to the short-run negative economic effects of many of Africa's
conservation programs (Kramer et al. 1994, for example).
Perhaps more important than the normative adoption of democracy concurrent to
conservation are the implications for governance. Most African states lack the capacity to
enforce conservation policies at the local level. If, therefore, the local population rejects a
conservation program as too costly, the program will likely fail and the money invested will be
wasted. Indeed, this is an echo of Bombardier's point that democracy, human well-being, and
conservation are in fact interrelated. The application of this needs, however, not to be
concentrated mostly on helping soft governments to get the conditions right for conservation on
the one hand, while trying to promote local democratic initiatives on the other. Such a process
will likely act to pit one program against the other, eroding the personal freedoms necessary for
democracy while eroding the economic preconditions necessary for environmental
consciousness. Rather, application needs to focus on providing the social safety-nets, economic
alternatives, and educational programs necessary to facilitate local adoption of both democratic

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 1, Issue 2 I 1997


and conservation initiatives. In so doing, conservation supporters must take a risk: they must
allow personal freedoms to grow first, in the hope that democracy and conservation will
compliment each other, but with the risk that local populations may choose a path that
contradicts both global norms of Jeffersonian democracy and the conservation imperative itself.

1. I would like to thank Yael Teutsch-Marcus, for her valuable contributions to this
brief paper.


Dahl, R. 1971. Polyarchy. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Gauthier, M. 1996. SAVEM Institutional Contract: Methodology and Schedule for Negotiating a
Contract for Community Management of Renewable Natural Resources. Tropical Research and
Development, Gainesville, FL.

Gezon, L.L. 1995. The Political Ecology of Conflict and Control in Ankarana, Madagascar.
Unpublished Ph.D. Dissertation. The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Infield, M. 1989. Hunters Claim State in the Forest. New Scientist. 124 (1689): 52-55.

Kramer, R.A. et al. 1994. Cost and Compensation Issues in Protecting Tropical Rainforests: Case
Study of Madagascar. Environmental Working Paper No. 62. The World Bank, Environmental
Department, Africa Technical Department. Washington D.C.

Lindsay, W.K. 1987. Integrating Parks and Pastoralists: Some Lessons from Amboseli in
Conservation in Africa: People, Policies, and Practice. D. Anderson and R. Grove, eds.
Cambidge, New York: Cambridge University Press.

Naughton-Treves, L. 1996. Uneasy neighbors : wildlife and farmers around Kibale National
Park, Uganda. Unpublished Ph.D. Dissertation. University of Florida, School of Forest
Resources and Conservation, Gainesville FL.

Swanson, R. 1996. National Parks and Reserves, Madagascar's New Models for Biodiversity
Conservation: Lessons Learned Through Integrated Conservation and Development Projects.
Tropical Research and Development, Gainesville FL.

World Bank. 1995. World Tables. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

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