Few African countries can match Tanzania’s good record in census enumeration. There have been three censuses since independence – in 1967, 1978 and 1988. In spite of some organisational difficulties mainly concerned with lack of transport to carry enumerators to the more remote areas, the degree of accuracy and the facilities of the census office are now quite impressive. What a change from the 1931 census when ‘headmen of villages were required to produce seeds of four different plants to indicate the men, women, boys and girls respectively in their areas’! The preliminary report of the 1988 census was published in mid- 1989 and some significant features emerge from it.

It revealed that the total population was 23,174,336, almost a million less than the 1987 forecast of 24,000,000:

………………1978 ….1988
Mainland 17,048,329 (+3.3%) 22,533,758 (+2.8%)
Zanzibar 479,235 (+2.7%) 640,578 (+3.0%)
Total 17,527,564 (+3.3%.) 23,174,336 (+2.8%)

Figures in brackets refer to the average annual growth rate for the previous ten-year period.

There are more females than males in the total population. giving a male/female sex ratio of 96 per 100.

This is significant because it represents a slowing down in the rate of population increase for the first time since records began. However, even this ‘slower’ rate of 2.8% per annum is rapid by world standards and, if continued, would lead to a doubling of the country’s population in only 25 years. Furthermore, in Zanzibar, the population growth rate has increased slightly compared with the previous period.

Coast, Mara and Ruvuma regions grew faster between 1978 and 1988 than they did In the previous inter-census period. The sharpest decrease in the growth rate was experienced in Dar es Salaam, Tabora and Kagera regions. Other regions showed a slight decrease or no change. These variations between regions are the result of migration rather then natural increase. It is at the smaller scale of districts that significant trends can be observed.

It could be argued that the outstanding demographic characteristic of Africa today is rapid urban growth, which is occurring at a rate unparalleled in any other world region. Migration and natural increase contribute equally to the process in Africa’s case. The situation in Tanzania is that the overall rate of urban growth has slowed down during the decade, largely because of a slowing down of Dar es Salaam’s growth.

The figures for urban population growth are as follows:

TOWN 1952 1957 1967 1978 1988
———~~,- — –”
DAR ES SALAAM 99,140 128,742 272,821 757,346 1,234,754
MWANZA 13,691 19,871 34,861 110,611 182,899
ZANZIBAR – – – 110,669 157,634
TANGA 22,136 38,053 61,058 103,409 138,274
MBEYA 5,566 6,932 12,479 75,505 135,614
MOROGORO 11,501 14,507 25,252 61,890 117,760
ARUSHA 7,598 10,038 32,452 55,281 117,622
MOSHI 9,079 13,726 26,864 52,223 96,838
TABORA 14,031 15,361 21,012 67,392 93,506
DODOMA 12,262 13,435 23,559 45,703 88,473
IRINGA 8,013 9,587 21,746 57,182 84,860
KIGOMA 11,600 – – 50,044 77,055
MTWARA 8,074 – – 48,510 76,632
MUSOMA 4,937 – – 32,658 63,652
SHINYANGA 2,480 – – 21,703 63,471
SONGEA 990 – – 17,954 54,830
SUMBAWANGA 2,116 – – 28,586 47,878
LINDI 11,330 – – 27,308 41,587
SINGIDA 3,125 – – 29,252 39,598
BUKOBA 3,570 – – 20,430 28,702

Dar es Salaam’s growth rate was down from 8.1% to 4.8% p. a. But this slower rate could give Dar a population in excess of 3 million by the year 2004 with further demands on the city’s infrastructure. Some other towns are growing very rapidly, for example, Moshi, 6.2% p.a. and Mbeya, now the fastest growing town in Tanzania, 6.7% (giving a doubling every eleven years). The table above indicates the huge gap between Dar es Salaam and the second town, Mwanza. It is also apparent that, in spite of government policies to promote Dodoma as the capital, its growth has been modest. It was the fifth largest town in 1952 but was ninth in 1988. Changes in the relative size of towns may be partly attributed to changes in Tanzania’s external relationships. For example, the strengthening of political and transport links with Zambia and SADCC countries seems to have had a positive impact on Mbeya while the collapse of sisal exports may underlie Tanga’s relative decline.

Urban growth in the past was due largely to migration of males in search of work, resulting in high urban sex ratios. In 1978 for example, there were over 120 men for every 100 females in Arusha, Bukoba and Moshi. The 1988 census reveals that this male dominated urban sex ratio has declined in nearly all towns from an average of 110 in 1978 to 105 in 1988 but this is still higher than the average of 96. This unbalanced sex ratio is not caused by differential fertility between districts, but by migration from rural to urban areas. Whereas in the past this movement was male dominated, the declining urban sex ratios reveal that now it is increasingly female dominated. Indeed, in the case of some towns like Mbeya there are now more females than males. Its sex ratio of 95 is below the national average. Only three towns, Zanzibar, Kigoma and Mtwara went against the national trend and showed an increase in sex ratios because of inward male migration.

The effect of migration upon rural areas has been to produce a divided Tanzania, at least in terms of its sex ratios. Two broad areas of the country are male dominated. The first extends from the coast between Dar and Tanga and extends inland to Morogoro and from there to Arusha and the Kenya border, with an offshoot from Morogoro to Kilombero district. The second lies further west and extends from Chunya northward through Tabora to Kagera and the Uganda border. Both these areas offer prospects of wage employment for males, in cash crop production or in small industrial enterprises like mining, as is the case in Chunya. Adjacent to these are the female dominated rural districts. The largest forms a huge belt of the country extending from the Mozambique border northwards through Iringa, Doodoma and Singida to Mara. There is a smaller female dominated pocket In the Pare and Usambara mountains of the north-east. These areas experience male outward migration because their harsher environments or more peripheral position have depressed the opportunity for economic activity.

Two broad points can be made in conclusion. Firstly, it would appear that government policy since 1967 – villagisation, decentralisation, capital city relocation – which potentially had large scale implications for the distribution of population, has not had a major impact upon the demographic situation in the country. Migration to urban areas continues, and even if the growth of Dar es Salaam has slowed down, that of many regional centres has not. Dodoma’s growth is less than one might expect and reveals that central location may be insufficient to offset other perceived disadvantages.

Secondly, although the rate of growth has slowed down, the annual addition of some half a million people to the country’s population is still considerable and increases the pressure on resources such as cultivable land. Furthermore, the youthful population structure, with 45% of the population below sixteen years, places an enormous burden upon health and education services.

The Economic Survey for Tanzania (1988) recorded a growth rate for the economy of 4.1% compared with a population growth of 2.8% As a result, the average per capita income showed an increase for the first time in a decade. Of course it does not mean that the benefits will be felt by the average Tanzanian immediately but at least it is a move in the right direction.
Clive Sowden

Mr CLIVE SOWDEN is a Senior Lecturer in Geography at Newcastle Polytechnic and has also, on three occasions, been a Visiting Lecturer in the University of Dar es Salaam. From 1958 to 1964 he was an Education Officer mostly at Tabora Boys’ Secondary School.

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