Tanzania study charts trade route out of poverty for disabled people

3 December 2018

The international development charity Traidcraft Exchange has published a ground-breaking report aiming to bring about new economic opportunities for people living with disabilities in Tanzania.

Timed to coincide with World Disability Day, the study commissioned by Traidcraft Exchange, and supported by the Tanzanian Federation of Disabled People’s Organisations (SHIVYAWATA) found that the coffee and cocoa sectors had the potential to employ large numbers of disabled people.

Although there is a lack of employment data, previous research found that disabled people accounted for less than 1 percent of employees of surveyed companies despite comprising around 10 percent of the Tanzanian population.

Nearly two-thirds of Tanzania’s disabled population live in rural areas where the agriculture and trade sectors are the largest employers. In particular, coffee and cocoa have been identified as growth industries with room to expand sales to both domestic and international markets.

“Being disabled doesn’t have to mean being unemployed. But all too often disabled people are excluded from the jobs market in Tanzania,” said Mary Milne, a spokesperson for Traidcraft Exchange.

The study recommended a change in mindset across the board if economic opportunities are to be extended to disabled people throughout Tanzania.

Nearly half of the disabled population has never even been to school, according to data from 2016.

“Disabled people need be able to earn a decent income, and our research shows that coffee and cocoa could offer these trading opportunities,” added Mary Milne.

Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and other civil society organisations also had a crucial role to play, according to the report’s authors.

Community organising, public awareness, and advocacy campaigns targeting politicians were all essential if disabled people were to gain jobs.

“The economic exclusion of disabled people won’t end overnight but unless there is concerted pressure change will prove illusive,” concluded Mary Milne.


For more information or to interview Mary Milne contact Tom Sharman: tom.sharman@traidcraft.org or 07757 753 318

Notes for editors:

Tom Sharman