Prince Charles and Camilla celebrating VSO’s 50th anniversary in Zanzibar with Jean Van Wetter, VSO Country Director and school children.

50 years of partnership. VSO started working in Tanzania in September 1961. Since then, more than 2,200 international professional volunteers have worked in close partnership with over 500 Tanzanian partners in the fields of education, health, disability, agriculture, governance, community development and wealth creation.

The VSO approach has changed over time. While in the past, VSO volunteers (mainly teachers, doctors and agriculture specialists) were providing direct services to the most vulnerable populations in all regions of the country, the new strategy ensures capacity building and scaling up of ‘best practice’ in targeted geographic and thematic areas. VSO volunteers are also now more experienced and specialized professionals.

During the 50 year partnership VSO has had with the Government, Tanzania has made impressive progress in many areas. For example Zanzibar and Tanzania mainland are well on track to meet the millennium development goal on access to education, with over 80% of children being enrolled in primary schools in Zanzibar and over 90% in Tanzania mainland. Despite those tangible successes, several challenges remain and the current strategy of VSO addresses those, in particular in education, health and wealth creation. Through delivering change and sharing learning, VSO also directly contributes to the Government’s Poverty Reduction Strategies (MKUKUTA and MKUZA).

VSO is currently reaching more than 500,000 poor people in Tanzania, with a relatively limited budget. During 2011 3,000 teachers were supported by VSO volunteers, which resulted in improved teaching that in turn will reach more than 42,000 children.

Jean Van Wetter, Country Director, VSO Tanzania writes: “At the occasion of our 50th anniversary, we want to celebrate successes, but also reflect on our own practices and role in reducing poverty in Tanzania. In December 2011, we therefore invited development leaders in Tanzania to come together to review progress in delivering change in the lives of poor people and share their ideas on how to do development differently.

“I want to take the opportunity of our 50th anniversary to also thank the Britain Tanzania Society for this support to our work. Our volunteers recently received significant support from the Tanzania Development Trust, the charitable arm of the Society.

“Last but not least, I would like to extend my sincere appreciated to all current and past volunteers for their continuous generosity and motivation in improving the quality of life of the most vulnerable”.

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