Almost immediately after President John F. Kennedy established USAID by executive order under the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, USAID began work in the newly independent Tanganyika. A new nation with enormous potential, Tanganyika partnered with USAID to build human capacity in the public service sector. To achieve this, education became a high priority, with USAID helping establish the Morogoro Agricultural College (now Sokoine University of Agriculture), the Institute of Public Administration, and teacher training colleges in both Iringa and Dar es Salaam.
In 1964, Tanganyika and Zanzibar unified to create the country now known as Tanzania. While focusing primarily on education, USAID also invested in community development, conservation, and infrastructure projects in order to transport food and water to rural areas. Most notably, in 1966 on behalf of USAID, the Stanford Research Institute studied the potential of a Tanzania-Zambia highway. Food assistance also began in this decade when, in 1962, Catholic Relief Services began administering the Food for Peace program (created under U.S. Public Law 480) as a response to food shortages.
The U.S. Foreign Assistance Act of 1973 sought to refocus aid in an effort to improve the lives of the poorest majority. For Tanzania, this was the rural farming population (roughly 90 percent of the population). The 1970s were marked by an increased focus on large-scale agricultural projects with the goal of increasing small farm outputs. Programs included increasing credit available to farmers and bolstering the extension service within the Ministry of Agriculture, including seed multiplication and distribution. In 1973, the Tanzania-Zambia Highway was completed, linking Tanzania to international markets and increasing accessibility to its own southwestern region. The mission sought to strengthen rural health centers and train health care workers; family planning and maternal health programs also emerged during this decade.
Building on successes from the previous decade, the 1980s began with USAID supporting policies that met Tanzania’s goal of decentralization. USAID worked to empower rural areas to govern themselves effectively in order to maximize agricultural advances of the time.
Despite progress, a foreign exchange crisis loomed over Tanzania. In 1982, in response to non-repayment of loans, the United States invoked the Brooke Amendment of the Foreign Assistance Act, which restricts assistance to any country in default for more than six months on loans made under the act. As a result, no new funds were allocated to the mission, resulting in a phase-out plan over a four-year time period. Through negotiations and debt restructuring, the Brooke Amendment was lifted in 1987, breathing new life into the program.
In the late 1980s, rural road construction remained a core objective, along with HIV/AIDS as rates climbed as high as 40 percent in certain sectors of the Tanzanian population. USAID supported the development of the National AIDS Control Program and began to distribute and promote the use of condoms.
In the mid-1990s, USAID launched Participation in Environmental Resource Management to assist Tanzania’s Wildlife Division in creating plans to protect natural resources. In order to safeguard publicly-used resources at the village level, USAID partnered with the Peace Corps to install trained volunteers across the country. Democracy and governance also became a core objective for the first time, and in 1995 USAID provided election observers to ensure fair voting practices. Additionally, the mission assisted in revenue collection and helped Tanzania recover lost income from tax evasion.
In the 2000s, health initiatives characterized USAID’s biggest accomplishments in the new millennium. In 2003, the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief was created, a program that funds 95 percent of USAID’s HIV/AIDS programming in Tanzania. As the largest HIV/AIDS donor in Tanzania, USAID’s program emphasizes treatment and prevention, counseling and testing, protection of vulnerable populations, tuberculosis, and male circumcision.
The President’s Malaria Initiative started in Tanzania in 2005. By working with the National Malaria Control Program, the Zanzibar Malaria Control Program, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, USAID protected millions of Tanzanians annually through indoor residual spraying and distributed over five million mosquito nets since 2006. This contributed to a 28 percent decrease in child mortality in the second half of the 2000s. The malaria infection rate in Zanzibar is now less than 1 percent, and is at the pre-elimination stage.
Today, Tanzania remains a key development partner of the United States in sub-Saharan Africa. Since 2011, the Feed the Future initiative has worked to reduce poverty and improve nutrition by supporting Tanzania’s agricultural sector—a major cornerstone of the economy. Since that time, Feed the Future interventions have benefited 450,000 people, and have supported better access to markets, training, and modern technology among smallholder farmers and the private sector. As USAID moves ahead, Tanzania remains a focus for additional presidential initiatives, including Power Africa and Let Girls Learn.