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Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance

Tanzania democracy
Training for legal aid groups provides information on rights and legislation
Alicko Sengo

The Government of Tanzania has made a commitment, both to its people and to the international community, to improve democratic governance. Even though Tanzania still ranks above neighboring countries in terms of transparency, accountability, and civil rights, rapid democratic declines in recent years pose an ongoing concern. USAID responds to this reality with programs that build on previous work to counter closing civic and political space, bolster freedom of expression, improve the advocacy and communication capabilities of local organizations, promote transparent and accountable systems free from corruption, and strengthen human rights among vulnerable populations.

These activities aim to achieve four sub-purposes: 1) improving the ability of targeted media and civil society organizations (CSOs) to provide more accurate and impartial information; 2) strengthening partner CSO capacities in targeted issue areas; 3) enriching platforms for dialogue that promote inclusive civic participation; and 4) improving citizen participation and oversight of elections and political processes. Additionally, USAID activities promote awareness of ethics regulations and target greater participation of women and youth in political processes.

Together, these efforts encourage citizen engagement while increasing public awareness of the roles, responsibilities, and actions of government. Furthermore, these activities advance partnerships with USAID efforts across sectors based on complementary skills and resources, common objectives, and geographic focus in order to maximize impact. This integrated approach is further strengthened by cross-sectoral collaboration to improve gender equality and empower women and youth.


Improving governance in Tanzania is constrained by an increasingly powerful executive branch, closing civic space, violations of human rights,  lack of political competition, a still-emerging civil society, limited government capacity, low public accountability, and barriers to accessing information. Women and youth are particularly disadvantaged in these areas. Challenges include:

  • Low quality of public services including health, education, and water, in addition to a lack of institutional capacity.
  • Limited government accountability and a lack of public demand for improvement.
  • Widespread corruption and public sector inefficiencies.
  • Diminished checks and balances resulting from an imbalance of power between branches of government, with civil servants and elected officials overly tied to central government patronage rather than citizen constituents.


  • The introduction of e-reforms by the Ethics Secretariat, including an online submission process for asset declaration forms, facilitated a 100 percent compliance rate for asset declarations among public servants and political actors. Additionally, the Secretariat initiated subsequent verification reviews for over 940 public leaders in 2018, assigned at random based on five criteria to corroborate information submitted in these forms.
  • Support to Women in Law and Development in Africa enabled 18,470 women, men, and youth from low-income and marginalized communities to receive legal aid and gender-based violence assistance. Furthermore, this partnership resulted in the establishment of a national toll-free hotline for reporting gender-based violence.
  • Training for citizens in grassroots advocacy and local government oversight resulted in the construction of a women’s health center in Kibaigwa Ward, which has provided health services to more than 15,000 women to date.
  • Election assistance in 2015 mobilized over 10,000 domestic observers. Additionally, efforts to empower women, youth, and people with disabilities to participate in electoral process resulted in an 18 percent increase in female candidates, and ultimately a 10 percent increase in women parliamentarians (now 40 percent of seats).


Overview: Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance

Last updated: August 19, 2019

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