Dimensions and determinants of rural poverty
Structural adjustment programmes have forced many households to adopt survival strategies, with detrimental effects on women. Removal of government subsidies for agricultural inputs and food stuffs, dismantling of state-controlled marketing systems, reduction of public investment in extension services and credit, and rising interest rates of bank credit are affecting poor women farmers in particular.
Intensive exploitation of natural resources aimed at increased supply of primary export commodities and incomes has led to soil erosion, deforestation and increased threat of desertification. There is a heavy dependence on fuel wood energy in the absence of better alternative energy sources.
Pressure to grow cash crops is diverting labour and land away from food crops and forcing poor households to sell part of their food reserves. Fall in prices of traditional export crops is affecting the food sector in particular and attracting males to commercial food crops such as maize, beans, horticulture and dairy products, traditionally controlled by women.
Food imbalances are estimated to have affected 40% of the population. 28.7% of the population is chronically food insecure as landholdings are too small to provide sufficient food for subsistence. More than 25% of the population suffers from protein energy malnutrition, 32% from nutritional anaemia, 6.1% from Vitamin A deficiency, and 25% from iodine deficiency. Women and girls suffer more as they tend to eat less in times of food shortage.
The rising cost of living and raised production costs has increased women's workload. Female-headed households, which are generally associated with increased labour constraints, simpler farming systems, inadequate services and meagre incomes, are increasing.
Female-headed Households in Rural Areas
Source: Mainland: Agricultural Sample Survey, Central Bureau of Statistics; Zanzibar: 1988 Census and 1991 Household Budget Survey