Skip to main content

Tanzania: Food Security Overview - Context of COVID-19

Publication date

58 million total population - 35% urban, 65% rural
15 million under poverty line - 5 million in urban areas
5 million under food poverty line - 2 million in urban areas


The first cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Tanzania in mid-March 2020. The number of confirmed cases started rising dramatically in April 2020, reaching 480 by the end of April. To prevent the spread of the virus, the Government put in place several measures, covering aspects of health, hygiene and social distancing. No population lockdown measure has been declared. By mid-May the government began relaxing some restrictions including re-opening of higher colleges and business centres and removing the requirement of quarantine for international arrivals.

Nine regions are considered among the high-risk areas due to their proximity to border points of entry, connection to international flights and location of initial cases of reported COVID-19 amid high population density. The urban population, where the poorest households spend about 70% of their income on food, is likely to be the more affected than rural populations. Households already living below the food poverty line, those working in the informal sector, and families with members who have pre-existing health conditions and the elderly will be particularly vulnerable.

More than 80% of the urban population is employed in the informal sector and about 10 million people in the urban population live in informal settlements. Households in these areas face resource constraints to provide for their basic services due to decreasing and unstable income.

A slow-down in economic activity and a partial or full lock-down will significantly affect the income and food security level across urban areas.