The majority of Tanzania’s population are Africans (95%) consisting of 8 ethnic groups with more than 130 sub-groups. The remaining 5% are Arabs, Indians, Pakistanis and Europeans. 120 independent languages testify to the cultural variety of the country. The official national languages are Kisuaheli and English. The population figure is 41 Million (2009), 40% of them younger than 14 years. The average life expectancy is 51 years.

Fisherman at Kilombero river

The population surrounding Ifakara consists mainly of 3 tribes: The Wapogoro, Wandamba and Wambunga, almost exclusively subsisting on agriculture and fishing. The cultivation of rice, maize, sugar cane, wheat and cotton – of high quality – is, for the most part, based on a self-sufficient economy system. This is the only chance for the rural population to survive, for feeding costs swallow up about 70% of the average family income. Vegetables, mostly beans, kassava, tomatoes and mchicha and fruits like bananas and mangos are additionally grown. The crops are linked with the prevailing traditional and pre-industrial cultivation methods and also depend, to a great extent, on rainfalls during the rainy season. Although the region is very fertile the government and aid agencies have to contribute food supplies in years lacking rain. The opposite, however, may happen as well. Quite frequently, the fields are flooded by the Rivers Kilombero and Lumemo, and harvest, roads and bridges are destroyed. In the past years, half-nomadic tribes, like the Massai, Wasukuma and Wamangati, have immigrated in growing numbers from northern Tanzania. These tribes live on cattle breeding and therefore own big herds of cattle. Conflicts with the native people are inevitable since the animals do damage to cornfields and destroy the banks of the River Kilombero.

Family in Kilombero valley

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