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CRS in Tanzania

Tanzania is often held up as a model of social harmony with an ethnically and religiously diverse population. In addition to having a stable and democratic political system, the country has experienced robust economic growth, and formally graduated from low-income country to lower-middle-income country status in 2020. While Tanzania’s economic success story has raised its global profile, there are significant rural-urban, wealth and gender disparities, particularly in health outcomes.

CRS has been working with the most vulnerable people in marginalized and underserved communities in Tanzania since 1962. Today, the country program supports projects in health, nutrition and early childhood development, youth empowerment, as well as water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH).

Health programming

Our health programming addresses the HIV epidemic with a specific interest in maternal retesting and Early Infant HIV Diagnosis (EID) for exposed infants. We also support COVID-19 vaccination initiatives leveraging the influence of the faith-based organizations, reaching over 15,000 people with COVID vaccines in Kigoma and Mbeya regions. Additionally, we engage the Government of Tanzania in strengthening the health systems through formulation and implementation of health policies, training of healthcare providers as well as mentorship and supervision support.

Nutrition for vulnerable communities

31.8% of children under 5 years of age are stunted in Tanzania, which is higher than the average for the Africa region (30.7%). Stunting is associated in adulthood with poverty, lower cognitive skills and education levels and higher risk of health problems, keeping the current generation from reaching the full potential that would help shape a more sustainable and prosperous society. Given the multi-causal nature of malnutrition, our work reaches vulnerable communities with multi-sectoral, integrated interventions addressing the immediate, underlying and basic causes of malnutrition. We work with mother leaders to promote maternal mental health and to develop positive parenting strategies to create an affirming household. Our peer trainer approach offers a multiplier effect to efficiently reach thousands of people through face-to-face communications. All our nutrition projects are implemented through local partners such as local government authorities, village councils and local NGOs to ensure sustainability.


Tanzanian mother feeding her child

Elinah Ezekia Mtawa, 27 years old, from Itewe village, is a participant of CRS’ Village Health and Nutrition Day where she learned about the 5 different food groups and how to cook with diversified ingredients. Here, she is feeding her son Byran.

Photo by Roshni Lodhia for CRS


Youth empowerment

Built on evidence-based approaches and local partnerships, our youth programming enables young men and women to unlock quality wage- and self-employment opportunities as well as continued education. We achieve results by providing entrepreneurial and life skills training to youth predominantly in the rural areas, in addition to farming and vocational skills. To maximize the participants’ chance to thrive, we link them with financial service providers, government social services, SILC groups, and provide job placement in collaboration with our private sector partners.


wife and husband face camera smiling in Tanzania

Siaba Admini Kamene (left), 22, and her husband Frank Mwalwange, 28, are both Gender Change Agents and members of the Nkuyu Coffee Group, in Igale village, Tanzania. They take part in the Kahawa ya Kesho (meaning “Coffee of Tomorrow”) project that aims to sustainably increase coffee production, engage youth in inclusive coffee value chains, build entrepreneurship and business skills, and diversify livelihood activities for rural youth and their households.

Photo by Will Baxter/CRS


Improved water security

Our water programming improves water security for rural communities by working at three levels – community, institution, and sub-catchment/basin. Our WASH programming emphasizes activities that contribute to improved health of individuals and communities, such as excreta disposal, hygiene education and sanitation promotion through a community-led total sanitation approach. We work to improve the commercial sustainability of community owned water systems through reduction of non-revenue water. CRS employs an approach that combines introduction of innovative pre-paid water systems and solar technology to reduce costs and improve performance and transparent revenue collection, as well as building of organizational and management capacity. At the institutional level, CRS supports public schools and healthcare facilities to improve their WASH infrastructure and build the capacity of school management committees and health committees to sustain the infrastructure. To address increasing water scarcity, CRS educates communities on the importance of integrated water resource management, and facilitates the creation of multi-stakeholder platforms that link with the basin authorities and local government officials. These platforms aim to assess, plan, prioritize and implement the development, management and monitoring of water resources within the basin.

CRS Tanzania Strategy Summary

A summary CRS Tanzania’s vision and priority program areas from 2023 — 2028.


CRS Tanzania WASH

An overview of CRS Tanzania’s approach, projects, achievements, and next steps in water, hygiene and sanitation.


CRS Tanzania Agriculture & Livelihoods

An overview of CRS’ approach in agriculture and livelihoods, how CRS Tanzania has responded to the local contexts through its projects, and the next steps.


CRS Tanzania Nutrition

An overview of CRS Tanzania’s long-standing nutrition program that is in line with national nutrition strategies and highlights of key results.


CRS Tanzania Early Child Development

An overview of the CRS model of optimal child development and CRS Tanzania’s key projects and achievements in early child development.


CRS Tanzania Youth

An overview of the CRS Tanzania’s youth-focused projects, lessons learned, and next steps.


CRS Tanzania Health

An overview of the CRS Tanzania’s achievements from the current and recent broad range of health programs.



People Served: 2,678,544 (Fiscal Year 2021)

Population: 59,734,213 (2020)

Size: 365,755 sq mi; slightly larger than twice the size of California

CRS' History in Tanzania

In 1962, one year after Tanzania celebrated its independence, a devastating drought struck the Arusha region. In response, Catholic Relief Services provided food and non-food emergency relief rations and created economic recovery projects for 85,000 affected people.

Since that initial effort, CRS Tanzania has continued to work closely with the Tanzania Episcopal Conference, other faith-based organizations, government entities, private partners and businesses. Today, the country program supports agriculture, health system and institutional strengthening, vulnerable children and youth programming, and integrated water resource management projects that interweave socioeconomic empowerment and gender transformation.

Through skill sharing and capacity building, our diverse agriculture programs in Tanzania promote sustainable growth, food security and development. 

CRS’ water programming also improves the health of children and their families. It increases access to adequate clean water supply and improved sanitation, and helps establish handwashing facilities and appropriate hygiene services.