At the centre of the problem is that many youth and children suffer. They suffer for a multitude of reasons, including issues relating to their immediate family, the education systems they access, the lack of services available, the problems with the city of Arusha and the national underspend and undervaluing of youth.

Youth in Tanzania

At the family level there is often severe dysfunction, due to problems as alcoholism, domestic abuse, Aids related deaths, single parent families and a lack of income. Children suffer as they are isolated, neglected and victims of violence. 

Young people suffer due to the poor academic options available. If families do in fact invest in their children’s education (and many do not or cannot) then the quality of education offered is poor, with great underinvestment in education and under budgeting with a minimal percentage of the capacitation grants actually reaching the schools. Teaching practices are generic and do not put the best interests of the child first and the curricula and language of tuition are challenging for children who are not academically strong. Secondary education services do not offer the pastoral, educational support to children who are outliers because of their economic, health or family situations.

Young people hope for opportunities in urban centres that do not exist in their home communities, resulting in Arusha carrying a disproportionate burden of young people and resultant costs from rapid urban migration. At a national level, youth as a political force, as a unique life-stage, and group with entitlements, has not been recognised until recently. There has been an absence of youth focussed public planning and budgeting and laws in place to protect children / youth are largely not enforced.

Youth in Tanzania face high levels of unemployment and struggle to find safe, fair and meaningful employment. Without education to be employed and lacking the resources to start businesses, young people become highly vulnerable. As Restless Development stated in their National Strategy (2011-2015) “Without stable livelihoods, young people suffer from extreme poverty and social exclusion, often resulting in negative behaviours formed at a young age, e.g. risky sex, drug abuse, and crime.” (Restless Development, 2015)

The nature of aspiration is changing as Tanzania modernizes, and Umoja aims to provide the opportunities to match these aspirations.

Umoja aims to break these cycles of dysfunction by providing structured and holistic support for these young people, enabling them to build themselves alternative futures.