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tanzania-political-mapPopulation: 47,783,107

HDI ranking: 152/187

HDI score: 0.476

Tanzania has achieved remarkable progress of consolidating the transition towards participatory political system since the beginning of 1990’s. Though once predominantly under a single party hegemony, there is a plurality of political parties today. Also, the independent civil society has grown; though slow (KAS, 2009).


Local governance at a glance

  • “Tanzania is a democratic unitary republic with a central government and a devolved government of Zanzibar”. There are totally 165 local authorities in both Tanzania and Zanzibar (CLGF, 2013).
  • “Administratively, Tanzania is divided into 26 regions…Regions are divided into districts, which are further subdivided into divisions” (UCLG, 2007).
  • The local government structure is divided into rural and urban authorities. Urban authorities consist of city, municipal and town councils and rural authorities consist of the village and township councils (UCLG, 2007).
  • “The ministry for local government and regional administration supervises the activities of local government authorities” (UCLG, 2007).
  • There is a legislated gender quota at the local level, and women must hold at least one-third of the seats (Quota Project, 2012).

Civil society actors include

Capacity building institutions

Fiscal control

  • Local authorities can levy taxes, fees and charges, but the number is limited. Central government allocations (government resources and donor sector basket funding) are the most significant sources of revenue for the local authority (UCLG, 2007).
  • Local authorities can introduce new taxes or rate changes in by-law system if they get ministerial approval (UCLG, 2007).

Key initiatives for participatory local governance

  • Local government was recognized by Article 15 of the constitution and is supported by the Local Government (District Authorities) Act 1982 and the Local Government (Urban Authorities) Act 1982 (CLGF, 2013).
  • “Amendments to the Local Government (District Authorities) Act 1982 provide for councils to organize public hearings for people to question political leaders and staff”. Also, the act encouraged and enabled participatory budget-making by bottom-up budgeting through the ward development committees (WDCs) and the democratic structures above them (CLGF, 2013).
  • Tanzania experienced two waves of decentralization. Since the power of local authorities was still effectively limited during the first wave, the second wave started through the Civil Service Reform Programme (CSRP) which began in 1994 (World Bank, 2001).

Challenges for participatory local governance

  • The capacity to manage a complex decentralization process at the local level is not sufficient. Developing reliable leadership and technical competence at the local level are necessary (ECDPM, 2003).
  • Civil society participation in the affairs of local authorities is only by observer status, so civil organizations are neither members of the Council nor the statutory committees of a local authority (UCLG, 2007).

Recent posts on this website about this country:


List of sources (in order of citation):

Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS), 2009: “State of Politics in Tanzania”

Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLGF), 2013: “Tanzania”

UCLG, 2007: “United Republic of Tanzania”

Quota Project, 2012: “Tanzania, United Republic of”

World Bank, 2001: “Decentralization Sector Work”

European Center for Development Policy Management (ECDPM), 2003: “Sector-wide Approaches and Decentralization towards Greater Policy Coherence”