Summing Up

Back from Tanzania and back on campus, I’ve had the chance to analyze my findings from the summer and reflect on my project as a whole. Overall in the span of about 5 week, I conducted 12 interviews with members of 11 organizations. All of my respondents were all professionals dealing with the implementation of Tanzania’s National Nutrition Strategy (NNS). Their organizations ranged from Tanzanian governmental agencies to UN bodies to private businesses. Their insights taught me about how nutritional policy is implemented, but more broadly about how international development is done.

It was amazing to me how quickly clear patterns emerged in the interviews. While I noted this as I conducted interviews, as I compare them side-to-side it becomes even clearer. All of the key informants I spoke to work at the national, policy-making level. The policies they discuss and create are then implemented at the district level, as Tanzania has a national policy of government decentralization. And while each informants knowledge and passion for improving nutrition in Tanzania was obvious, it also quickly became clear that translating that enthusiasm into action in the districts remains a major barrier. Teasing out why this is the case will be the subject of the paper I will write on my findings and send to my respondents. They’re responses taught me so much, and I hope my project can at least stimulate a conversation among them about what steps need to be taken to better implement the NNS.

While the implementation of NNS is where my project focused, speaking with these development professionals allowed me to better understand and appreciate the difficulties of carrying out health and development projects. Coordination among government bodies, international organizations, and non-governmental organizations is critical to avoid duplicity in projects and help the government eventually take over the responsibility for providing health services. Yet it is incredibly difficult. And while every organization I spoke with had expertise to offer any nutrition programs implemented in Tanzania, many mentioned funding as a major barrier. Monitoring and evaluation was also either a struggle to undertake or not undertaken. While some smaller issues were specific to Tanzania, they represent greater issues in the world of international development.

Having the chance to speak with professionals helped me understand international development better, and how it intersects with comparative politics. While the time I spent learning Swahili in Tanzania helped me to understand another culture, this project helped me to understand another business and political culture. I only hope that my research can be as valuable to others as it already has been to me.