• The online Community for people with spinal cord injury, their relatives and friends

  • The online Community for people with spinal cord injury, their relatives and friends

  • The online Community for people with spinal cord injury, their relatives and friends

  • The online Community for people with spinal cord injury, their relatives and friends

  • The online Community for people with spinal cord injury, their relatives and friends

Living with a disability in Tanzania

In a country of 45 million people, it is estimated that 3.5 million people in Tanzania live with a disability. People with disabilities are often among the poorest and most marginalized in society. Disability can have a significant impact upon the quality of a child's education. The WHO estimates that, in 51 countries, only 51% of boys and 42% of girls with disabilities will complete their primary school education. This seriously limits the development of these children, as they lose access to information, are unable to socialize with their peers and are unable to develop the skills they require to seek employment and contribute to their family and the wider economy. The illiteracy rate among Tanzanians with a disability is 48%, compared to 25% among people without disabilities.

The existing laws in Tanzania categorically emphasize on the equal rights to education, health services, employment, information and communication, cooperation in economy, respect, ability to reach all areas and good standard of life. However such rights are not fully given to the people who are physically challenged. People with disability are still facing challenges in various issues concerning their welfare, especially education. There is insufficient equipment to facilitate the people with disability to study. This makes people with disability not enjoying the right to information and communication as they lack the equipment and translators to assist them. They also face challenge in accessing health services as they usually get humiliated by health providers, while health centers' infrastructure pose obstacles for them to reach the areas.

To give you an insight to the situation of people with disabilities in my home country Tanzania I want to share with you the stories of two persons, Eliezey and Seretti, which I found on the website of Neema Crafts (https://www.neemacrafts.com/index.php). Neema Crafts is a project of the Anglican Diocese of Ruaha and it trains people with disabilities to become skilled artisans from carpenters, to tailors, ceramicists to paper-makers, great chefs, or entrepreneurs starting up their own enterprises. By this, people with disabilities get an opportunity to support their families, send their children to school and get integrated to society, while also changing the attitudes toward disability in Tanzania.


"I've had polio in my legs since birth, which means I've always had to crawl around. We had very little money, so my parents couldn't buy me a wheelchair. I desperately wanted to go to school, but my parents told me I couldn't because I couldn't walk. 'You can't go, don't keep asking!' they'd say, so I tried to keep quiet. I was very sad because I was too afraid to tell them how I really felt, just in case they sent me away. I didn't want to make them angry.

There was nothing to do at home and I got very bored. All my friends were at school and I felt low almost every day. I used to try to get around to see other disabled people, just so I could feel I wasn't alone. I felt a bit better when I did this and made some good friends."

Eliezey also experienced challenges in finding employment, which would enhance his personality and his level of understanding as well as improve his financial situation. However Neema Craft, by offering skills and creating an employment opportunity, has been of great support to him.


"'She should be killed, she can't work, she can't help out at home, she can't go to school, get a medicine to kill her.' That's what they told my father. I was two weeks old when it happened. A witch doctor came to my house at night, took me from my bed and put me into a blazing fire in the room next door. I was only saved by my uncle, who smelt the burning and came to find out what was happening. My legs had been burnt off past the knee and I was so badly injured that the doctors had to amputate them at the hip. After eight months in hospital I was well enough to return home.

'No I will not kill her, she is my child' was my father's reply to the people around him. People saw how disabled I was and though I would only be a burden on my family. I learnt to move around in a bucket, as I didn't have a wheelchair and at the age of ten went to primary school after finding support with the church. I passed my exams and then decided to go to a secondary school in Iringa."

Due to the financial situation of her family, Seretti had difficulties with continuing her education and finding work until she got a chance of employment at Neema Craft, which helped her to be independent and to manage her daily life needs.

You can find many more stories of people with a disability in Tanzania at https://www.neemacrafts.com/stories.php

Sources and literature:

Comments (0)

There are no comments on this topic yet.
Be the first to comment!

Rate this post

Most Recent Answers
5287 odyssita
Explaining what life with a chronic disability is like
Hi cAro, all the best for your research! I am very curious to hear about the results once they are being published. Thank you for researching this...
6 odyssita 2018-05-02
5205 Wheelie
Good news for all who would like to try out the Scewo by themselves: according the Scewo constructors, the feedback on their invention was so...
5 Johannes 2018-03-12
Ask the Expert
Most Recent Answers
3 Dr._Hans_old 2015-07-20
3 Dr._Hans_old 2015-05-07

Most Recent Blog Posts
Wheelchair chefs: the success stories
Disabilities matter but ambition rules
lorenzo.deluigi 2020-07-22 In News
Make to Care, a competition promoting innovations
Which one of these four innovative projects convinces you the most?
kitwan 2020-07-02 In Society
Wheelchair users’ game of thorns
The fight for personal space, safety and independence
Most Read
Anatomy and physiology of respiration
Breathing is the most normal thing in the world for us. We hardly think about it, even though we breathe in and out about 20,000 times per day. We breathe more when we are active and exerting ourselves, and we breathe less when we are...
Social skills increase quality of life
Today strawberry yogurt is on Anna’s* grocery list. In front of the dairy section she notices that she cannot reach the yogurt sitting in a wheelchair. Many stressed people are rushing through the crowded store during rush hour and she does not...
Mobilisation / Transferring
What do I need to consider with regard to the shoulders? The shoulder is the most heavily-strained joint with regard to mobilisation – that applies to sitting up and transferring. It is therefore important to protect the shoulders whenever it is...

About the Community
Most Recent Topics
2020-08-04 In Latest
An unconventional book on ignoring disability
"A picture is worth a thousand words." How about blank pages? Recently, a blank book has been released to express the absurdity people with disabilities are experiencing every day, as there is...
2020-07-16 In Latest
Free masks for high-risk patients with SCI
People with high-level tetraplegia, paraplegics of higher age and those with pre-existing health conditions are more susceptible to a severe development of COVID-19. For this reason, the European...
2020-07-03 In Latest
A COVID inspiration porn?
Over three months since the COVID-19 declared pandemic, many countries are still debating whether to make wearing face masks compulsory to help prevent the spread of the disease. Noam Gershony, an...


Swiss Paraplegic Research
Guido A. Zäch Strasse 4
6207 Nottwil

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
T 0800 727 236 (from Switzerland, free of charge)
T +41 41 939 65 55 (from other countries, charges apply)

Be part of the Community – sign up now!