Global children’s charity Plan International (Plan) has pumped USD100m in development projects in Tanzania over the past two decades, a top of official of the organisation has said.
CEO Nigel Chapman said in a statement issued in Dar es Salaam on Monday that his agency plans to spend an additional US$40m over the next three years to upscale its development projects in Tanzania’s poorest and remote regions.
He was briefing the media ahead of the board’s week-long tour of the projects.
“Plan has been working in Tanzania for the past 20 years supporting under-privileged children and poor communities gain access to health, education, clean water and sanitation. To date, nearly 1.6 million people have benefited from our programmes,” he said.
Chapman said Plan had joined hands with other organisations to introduce Village Savings and Loans Associations (VLSAs) to support a plethora of rural communities access loans to shore-up agricultural productivity and help them venture into small business enterprises.
“Currently there are more than 4,000 VSLA groups that have been established across the country with more than 80,000 members. The majority of them are women. VSLAs are proving to be hugely popular in the country as they offer cheap loans to rural communities,” Chapman said.
Chapman said Plan was also involving children in VSLAs to inculcate a culture of saving among children and youth. The number of savings clubs run by children had swollen to 300 as 9,000 children in Tanzania were currently involved in these schemes.
“The involvement of children in VSLA is helping instill a savings culture among children and youth as they learn about money management at an early stage in life,” he said.
Among others, Chapman said Plan supports community-led total sanitation (CLTS) projects, which inspire communities to shun open defecation because of its negative impact on health.
CLTS has been introduced in more than 100 villages and many of them are now regarded as ‘open defecation free’.
Plan has also been supporting the government to develop policies that stem the high incidence of violence against children, especially teenage pregnancies and child labour. This had led to a decline in cases of child abuse in the country, Chapman said.
In addition, he said Plan is promoting the concept of pre-school learning known as Early Childhood Care and Development to prepare a strong foundation for children mental development ahead of being enrolled in school.
Founded over 75 years ago, Plan is one of the oldest and largest children's development organisations in the world.
It works in 50 developing countries across Africa, Asia and the Americas to promote child rights and lift millions of children out of poverty.
Plan started operating in Tanzania in 1991 and it operates in seven districts within the five regions of Dar es Salaam (Illala), Coast(Kisarawe and Kibaha), Mwanza (Illemela and Nyamagana) and Geita(Geita and Nyang’hwale), reaching nearly 1.6 million children.