How TASAF alms change people’s lives in Kagera

KAGERA: IT is sad to hear a story of Janeth Kokulamuka (36), a resident of Muleba District’s Magata village of how five years ago, she lost her husband due to HIV/AIDS scourge and she almost lost hope that she could ever again live a normal life.

However, in 2021 she was registered among widows’ beneficiaries under the Tanzania Social Action Fund (TASAF). She has managed to send her three children to school, while one of them had already completed Form Four and two others were in primary school.

She recently rehabilitated her three-room house roofing it with iron sheets and has fixed a solar lamp which enables the children to study at night. She is also a member of a local women ‘Tusaidiane group’ engaged in sewing clothes which they sell enabling them to earn some money.

“On behalf of other members I thank President Samia Suluhu Hassan for implementing people-oriented projects. The funds have positively changed our lives,” she said.

Kagera Regional Commissioner (RC) Ms Fatma Mwassa, on the other hand, has appealed to families which benefit through the Tanzania Social Action Fund (TASAF) Phase II alms to use them wisely to improve their livelihoods.

Equally, she urged the beneficiaries to be creative in coming up with small projects that would boost family incomes while calling upon the community to take advantage of the funds issued by the government, donors and various financial institutions so that the money could make positive changes in their lives.

Acting Kagera Regional Administrative Secretary (RAS), Mr Projectus Rubanzibwa made the remarks recently on behalf of Ms Mwassa, while opening a review meeting for the PSSN II implementation progress. Ms Mwassa also appealed to the government to expand Tasaf activities in two projects namely Infrastructure Development and Public Works Programme (PWP).

“Kagera region was currently implementing two projects namely Cash Transfer (CT) and Livelihood Enhancement (LE). However, due to big poverty levels facing the region, we appeal to the government to expand Tasaf activities in two projects namely Infrastructure Development and Public Works Programme (PWP), which is partly being implemented in Ngara District,” she said.

Adding…… “The sixth phase government under President Dr Samia Suluhu Hassan was keen to improve lives of the majority Tanzanians. TASAF is among projects initiated by the government to uplift lives of the majority poor,” she said.

She tipped on the importance of coming up with small scale projects like piggery and goat rearing to improve their incomes. She asked the community to abandon outdated traditional practices by giving women the chance in owning various assets and other investments, saying that the group has proved to be excellent in finance management.

Kagera Regional TASAF Co-ordinator, Efrazi Mkama, on his side, explained that between 2020-2023 about 57.2bn/- was disbursed to 80,563 poor households in Kagera Region through the Tanzania Social Action Fund (TASAF).

“The government allocated a total of 57,838,709,588/- but the amount paid to the beneficiaries was 57,232,431,028/- while 607,288,558/- was paid back to the government due to various reasons including death and lacking qualifications,” he said.

According to Mr Mkama, during 2015-2020 period the government allocated a total of 54,322,167,800/- but the  amount paid to the beneficiaries was 53,721,340,750/- , while 600,826,050/- was paid back to the government.

Meanwhile, the Acting Director –Knowledge Management and Advocacy under Tasaf, Mr Peter Lwanda, who led the monitoring team, expressed satisfaction after witnessing some of the projects being implemented by Tasaf beneficiaries in Bukoba Municipal.

The team witnessed how Tasaf beneficiaries used the funds to improve their social standards through construction of decent houses while others-initiated income generating projects.

“Some of the beneficiaries including widows had formed saving groups (vikoba). What was needed is to equip them with entrepreneurship skills to enable them to manage well the funds and eventually graduate from poverty,” he remarked.

However, he cautioned married couples who benefit from Tasaf alms to plan together how to use the funds instead of blaming each other. Mr Lwanda made the remarks after visiting several households at Kabale Ka Ngaiza and Kagondo Ka Eifo Streets in Bukoba MC where some of the females and males blamed each other for misusing the funds lamenting that the money was the cause for marriage break- up.

“Tasaf alms should not be a cause for marriage break-up. We expect the beneficiaries to remain united and plan together how to use the funds instead of blaming each other. The funds should be spent on sending your children to school and paying for the family’s health needs,” he said.

Initially the PSSN II was expected to be implemented for four years from 2020 to September 2023, with a budget of 883.31 million US dollars, equivalent to 2.02tril/-.

“However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic the government decided to extend the programme for two more years (2023-2025), with the aim to make a review on the exact number of the poor households that qualify to be enrolled under the programme. After making the review some of the households that proved to have graduated from poverty would be deleted while new households would be registered,” he said.

Evaluation of the impact of PSSN in the Mainland and Zanzibar show that absolute poverty was reduced significantly where the ability to afford basic needs has improved among poor households in the country. Other achievements include increase in the number of beneficiaries engaging in modern farming.

The same applies to school enrolment, family savings and access to health services and clinic attendance for children between the ages of 0-24 years.

“This is a great achievement as our people are gradually moving out of abject poverty to the level where they can contribute to economic growth. The government will take all necessary measures to ensure successful implementation of this programme in order to achieve the intended objectives,” he said.

Equally, Mr Lwanda urged Agricultural and Livestock Extension Officers to make regular visits and educate poor households enrolled under the Tanzania Social Action Fund (TASAF) programme on project management with aim to have positive results on people’s economic standard.

“Agricultural and Livestock Extension Officers in the country should make regular visits and educate poor households enrolled under the Tanzania Social Action Fund (TASAF) programme on project management. This will have positive results on people’s economic standard and also value for money,” he said

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