Towards universal pensions in Tanzania: Evidence on opportunities and challenges from a remote area, Ngenge ward, Kagera
The Government of Tanzania is currently taking concrete steps towards the implementation of a universal non-contributory pension. The objective of this study was to build on previous research by exploring the impacts of the cash transfer and the practical lessons for implementation in very remote settings. In order to do this the research focused in the Ngenge ward, one of the remotest settings within the Muleba district in Kagera Region. This research comes five years after a study conducted in 2008, Salt and Soap and Shoes for School, which found that the pension had significant impacts on nutrition, physical and mental health, social status and social inclusion. Returning to the district provided an opportunity to establish whether the findings of the previous research still stood, and if there were any changes.
The pension has had a dramatic impact on the income of recipient households. The cash transfers increased the average income of recipient households by almost 80 per cent. On average, pensions equalled close to half of all income, but in many cases exceeded 80 per cent. In one in ten households cash transfers were the only source of income. The value of the pension and child supplement is relatively modest relative to Tanzania’s average income (13 and 8 per cent respectively of GDP per capita in 2013) and their dramatic impact on household income shows the depth of poverty in this part of the country. It also points to the lesson that benefits do not have to be very high to begin to have substantial impacts in such areas.