Research Theme 7 - Implementing Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Tanzania is one of the countries which have ratified the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Implementation of SDGs was officially launched in the country in September 30th 2015. SDGs are fundamental if Tanzania is to transform its economy and improve the livelihoods of its people. This is particularly true given the challenges and outcome of 15 years of MDGs. These goals will be implemented through the National Policy Frameworks, namely: the TDV2025, FYDP I and II, and the sectoral policy frameworks. Thus, integrating and mainstreaming the SDGs in the national planning process in view of the national priorities is inevitable.

Among the MDGs challenges experienced in Tanzania are the weak coordination, institutional framework and management as well as leadership of the MDGs implementation process, including the monitoring mechanism. Thus, the government needs to ensure that there is a clearly defined institutional coordination, transformational management and leadership with a suitable and effective monitoring and evaluation system. An adequate and credible monitoring mechanism requires national statistical agencies which have the requisite capacities to ensure availability of the required data set to enable management and tracking of the SDGs indicators.

To enhance capacity building of the local institutions especially the Local Government Authorities (LGAs) and human capital, partnership and stakeholder participation must be a priority throughout the SDGs implementation. Lastly, since MDGs financing was a critical factor towards the performance of MDGs, the government needs to give it a priority and ensure that adequate resources are mobilized to meet SDGs resource requirement. Innovative financing should be adopted by ensuring that all the potential alternative funding options such as the private sector, control of illicit financial flows and optimal tax regime are explored.

Sub-Theme 1: Localization and Community Awareness of SDGs

By 2008 and 2010 performance of MDGs in Tanzania was not satisfactory particularly because with exception of MDG 2 (Primary School Net Enrolment rate) and MDG 6 (HIV prevalence), the country was not doing well in other MDGs, especially poverty reduction. MDGs poor performance was largely due to the limited involvement, and capacity of the key players at local level, as well as inadequate financial resources to finance MDGs implementation. The overall dissatisfaction on progress made in the implementation of MDGs by 2008 is what impelled and compelled Tanzania to localize the MDGs.

MDGs localization is meant to advocate for sound policies and institutions at national, local and community level to ensure sustainable progress and building capacity at local level in identifying and understanding specific characteristics of poverty groups and establishing mechanisms that respond to their needs. This initiative is known as Localization of MDGs and/or adaptation of global targets at local level or national context (Local Actions for Global goals). As one of the important lessons from MDGs, the government therefore intends to localize the MDGs successor goals (SDGs) by building the capacity of LGAs and other local communities, among others. Research is therefore fundamental in this process to provide adequate information for decision making during SDGs implementation. The following research agenda will be the focus of ESRF under this sub theme

    (a) Capacity building and empowerment of the local institutions and actors for successful SDGs localization and implementation;
    (b) Further drawing lessons from MDGs localization and implementation;

    (c) Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) at local level;

    (d) Generating researched recommendations for translations and localization of SDGs into national policies, strategies and monitoring systems, especially Five Year Development Plan II (FYDP) II: 2016/17 – 2020/21);

    (e) How to mainstream SDGs into national, sector and sub-national levels strategic and planning activities, including empowering the Local Government and Communities to carry out own development programmes;

    (f) Developing a holistic capacity development program for improving analytical skills for implementation of SDGs process at sub-national levels and linking such capacity development to initiatives at the Central Government level; and

    (g) Identifying capacity gaps that need to be addressed in empowering the Local Government and Communities to be fully involved in elaboration and implementation of the SDGs.

Sub-Theme 2: Local Economic Development (LED) and Capacity Development

Economic growth in Tanzania, which has averaged between 6 and 7 percent the past ten years, has been largely driven by a few non agriculture sectors, particularly telecommunications, financial services, retail trade, mining, tourism, construction and manufacturing. With the exception of mining, activities in these sectors are largely concentrated in urban areas and are relatively capital intensive, other than construction, thus denying Tanzanian youth the most needed employment opportunities.

A number of policy interventions are needed to increase spatial inclusion in Tanzania. The most strategic interventions include transforming agriculture to accelerate poverty reduction in rural areas and managing urban growth to harness opportunities linked to the concentration of people and firms by developing policies and institutions to support urban growth in order to help cities deliver agglomeration economies while reducing the costs that are entailed therein. Other strategic interventions include improving existing development and tourism corridors to take advantage of concentrated infrastructure development; building competitive industry by putting in place a competitive business environment, including strategies to raise productivity and employment of the industrial sector etc.

For the success of these interventions, economic policies must harness local advantages and develop local potentials and skills in order to ensure a true endogenous development upon which the economic future of a region will largely depend. This is more important still when finding solutions to specific spatial problems concentrated in confined areas. Local development strategies allow for greater growth, through the involvement of local actors and the use of local resources and skills.

ESRF has resolved to work extensively in this area to support the government initiatives. Specifically, the following research areas will be dealt with:

    (a) Supporting communities to develop their own economic solutions;

    (b) Building capacities and supporting new local based enterprises to set-up;

    (c) Creating community awareness and improving community knowledge on SDGs implementation, their rights and responsibility towards successful SDGs implementation; and

    (d) Ensuring that the key players and/or implementers at local level are empowered in terms of adequate involvement in planning and policy formulation, but also in terms of knowledge and implementation capacity (resources)

Sub-Theme 3: Innovative SDGs Financing

Since MDGs financing was a critical factor towards performance of MDGs, the Government needs to give it a priority and ensure that adequate resources are mobilized to meet SDGs resource requirements. Innovative financing should be adopted by ensuring that all the potential alternative funding options such as non traditional sources, private sector, control of illicit financial flows and optimal tax revenue are explored. This is another critical area which requires strategic research to inform both the policy process as well as decision making process in Tanzania. Specifically, ESRF’s research will focus on the following areas:

    (a) SDGs financing opportunities through Official Development Assistance (ODA);

    (b) Exploring the non traditional SDGs financing options;

    (c) Exploring potential domestic SDGs financing sources;

    (d) Exploring private sector contribution towards SDGs financing; and

    (d) Doing more to control illicit financial flows and maximizing the tax revenues

Sub-Theme 4: Monitoring and Evaluation of SDGs

As noted earlier, M&E is among the major gaps (weaknesses) which were evident in various MDG performance evaluation studies which have also been widely acknowledged. A poorly developed monitoring and evaluation system has been denying people potential benefits accruing from MDGs related projects. In many cases, absence of effective M&E tools and limited capacity to effectively make use of these tools have led to failure and underperformance of most MDGs projects and programmes.


ESRFs activities are supported by the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF),Think Tank Initiative of IDRC and The Foundation for Civil Society.