From food insecurity to self-reliance

Monika from Uhelela Village in Bahi District is a mother of six. Her first husband died in 1994 and left her with two children to raise on her own. It was a tough time for her and the children, and things got worse, when she refused to re-marry another man from her husband’s family. She was isolated and left to take care of herself.

Faced with financial difficulties, Monika decided to marry another man, and as wife number seven, she had four more children. Her new husband was largely absent and again she was left without financial and social support. For some time, she relied on small-scale farming activities to sustain her family, but the produce was not enough, and she ventured into brewing traditional local beer and raising chickens. Despite these efforts she still faced severe financial and food shortages and resorted to working as wage laborers on other people’s farms with her children.

In 2015, things changed for the better. Monika was enrolled in the Productive Social Safety Net Programme and started receiving TZS 36,000 bimonthly. She spends the money on food and on her children’s education, buying books, uniforms and other school supplies. Some of the money she invests in expanding her farming activities by hiring casual labor to help her on the farm, and some she saves for emergencies such as illness or economic shocks.

“if I have a problem such as sickness in the family, I sell one chicken and use the cash to solve the problem. At one point, we had to sell 10 chickens to buy a bag of maize which cost TZS 27,000 = $10; we didn’t have food at that time.”

Outside the farming season, she makes an income from selling local beer and from selling basic household goods such as salt, sugar, and candles. She has also invested in goats and chickens and the 2 chickens she started off with, have multiplied to over 30 chickens.

With the money earned from the farming and livelihood activities, she has bought land and built a new house for herself and her children. Both the land and the house is owned by Monika. This is important to her, as she do not have to live in fear that her husband will claim the property or the money from the produce.

For the first time, the future is looking bright for Monika and her family. Their livelihood and well-being have improved, and Monika no longer needs to worry about whether her family will have food on the table tomorrow.

About Productive Social Safety Net Programme (PSSN)

Eradicating poverty and improving people’s well-being is one of the main agenda of achieving sustainable development goals by 2030. However, in Tanzania alone 36.6% of the current total population is unable to afford basics needs or accessing better social services. They are limited by lack of education, infrastructure, climate change and unemployment. Changing their livelihood requires a productive approach. This is the area where Productive Social Safety Net (PSSN) programmes come to the rescue. The programme is implemented by Tanzania Social Action Funds (TASAF) with jointly support from UN Agencies and other bilateral and multilateral organization. Read more about PSSN

For more information please contact

Bwijo A. Bwijo: Practice Specialist HIV/AIDS

United Nations Development Programme