Speaking in Dar es Salaam yesterday at a farewell ceremony, Bird pointed at the Tanzania Social Action Fund (TASAF) as one among initiatives that have played a major role in bringing down the level of abject poverty, and hence ought to be sustained.
A good number of countries are implementing the same project but TASAF shows the best and pioneer programme across Africa in ending poverty, the director asserted.
“I wanted to say a few things about TASAF just as I leave Tanzania. I have been here for four years and seven months and I must say that when I first came and looked at our portfolio, I looked for the very impressive projects there. But what struck me about TASAF is that it is a powerful instrument to meet the poorest and most vulnerable people in the country,” she stated.
A recent assessment conducted by the World Bank and the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) found that TASAF has contributed immensely to poverty reduction in the country, she elaborated.
“One of the most striking findings of the assessment was when we looked at the decline in poverty in Tanzania and we found that if TASAF had not been there, the rate of poverty in Tanzania would be at least 2 percent higher…This is the kind of independent assessments or validations that show how impactful is the work that Tasaf is doing,” she further noted.
“I remember that former President Benjamin Mkapa was inspired by the social action programme in Malawi (MASAF), but now Malawi is looking to learn from progress that Tanzania is making through TASAF,” she told the gathering.
In his remarks, TASAF executive director Ladislaus Mwamanga commended the outgoing director for the huge contribution she has made to ensure that vulnerable Tanzanians improve their lives.
“You have been so good to us. You were ready to provide technical and lobby for financial support from other development partners so as to ensure that the programme is sustainable. We really appreciate your contribution and we wish you good luck in your new position,” he said.
He commended the bank and other development partners who have continued to extend support for the implementation of various poverty alleviation projects through Tasaf.
The implementation of the forthcoming second phase of the TASAF-III programme set to be launched soon will focus on providing poor households with prerequisite entrepreneurship skills and how to use income-earning opportunities to set up small-scale commercial ventures, he said.
Beyond training them on acquiring entrepreneurship skills, the programme will avail the beneficiaries with a roadmap to support them manage and expand their businesses, he stated.
Michele Zini, the task team leader of the WB PSSN II expressed the bank’s commitment to continue supporting the TASAF programme.
“We are so proud of Tasaf. We have witnessed a number of vulnerable families who were not even sure of getting a meal are now living a better life while engaging in some economic activities…We will continue collaborate to fight poverty in the country,” he added.