Rethinking Poverty and Population Dynamics in Tanzania

Type Working Paper
Title Rethinking Poverty and Population Dynamics in Tanzania
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2012
The definition of poverty varies depending on level of education, communication, gender, age,
location, social and economic context (Semboja, 1994; Narayan et al., 2000). Narayan et al. (2000)
stresses that men and women, young and old as well as rural poor and urban dwellers may define
poverty differently. For instance, Cooksey (1994) and Omari (1994) are of the view that poverty
encompasses physical and material deprivation including complex social, economic, cultural and
political dimension. However, all of the definitions reflect lack of minimum income as well as nonincome
material well being necessary for improving living standards. A person whose standard of
living falls below a minimum acceptable level (poverty line) is said to be living in poverty
(Mtatifikolo, 1994). Based on various definitions some scholars (see for example Cooksey 1994;
Semboja, 1994; Narayan et al., 2000; URT, 2003) have categorized poverty as income, non-income
poverty, absolute and relative poverty.
The United Republic of Tanzania (URT) (2003) defines income poverty as a condition of low
income reflected in peoples’ consumption patterns. Such income is very minimal in such a way that
it might not be sufficient for achieving minimum societal basic needs including food, shelter and
clothing. A person who is unable to buy minimum goods necessary for minimum living standards is
said to be living in absolute poverty. Poverty is also a relative concept depending on the acceptable
standard of living established by a particular society. In other words, relative poverty is measured
based on judgements by members of a particular society. On the other hand, non-income poverty
refers to lack of access to things necessary to move people from ill-being to well-being. Such things
include: education, health, nutrition, access to safe drinking water, social exclusion, and

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