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National Panel Survey - Tanzania: Data on living standards (2008/09 to 2020/21)


The following data from the five waves of the National Panel Survey are used to track changes in key indicators in Tanzania between 2008 and 2021. Topics covered include clean water and sanitation, energy sources, education, health and nutrition, welfare dynamics, labor market, food security and agriculture.

Clean water and sanitation

Access to safe and clean water and sanitation are internationally recognized human rights as they have great implications on the state of public health and economic growth in a country. 

Nationally, there was a marked positive shift in access to improved sanitation facilities in Tanzania.


Further, access to clean drinking water has improved in Tanzania between 2014/15 and 2020/21. Specifically:

  • Half of the population in Tanzania now has access to clean drinking water during the rainy season.
  • Two-thirds of the population has access to clean drinking water during the dry season.

  • Access to water in urban areas is consistently better than rural ones.


Energy sources

Electricity and clean cooking fuels are the energy sources which are key drivers in the transformation of nations and development initiatives such as the Tanzania Rural Electrification Project. The goal of such project is to improve the availability and accessibility of energy in ths country. Results from the NPS shows that:

  • More than one-third of households in Tanzania used electricity as their main source of energy for lighting in 2020/21, showing a visible trend of increase over the years.

  • While rural areas still face barriers, the proportion of rural households using electricity significantly improved in the past 15 years. 


Education is a key determinant of progress across developing countries as it has direct or indirect link with development indicators. The NPS unfolds data of two main aspects of education: literacy rate and school enrollment rate:

1. Literacy rate of school going children between 7 - 13 years of age

The literacy rate of school-going children between 7 - 13 years of age has improved across the country. The figure below shows significant improvements in each geographic location of Tanzania since 2010/11:

2. Enrollment rate

In general, the net enrolment rate in primary school for 7-13-year-olds has improved in all areas of the country across both genders. 

While rural areas are below the national average, there was still some improvement across all levels of enrollment between 2014/15 and 2020/21:

3. Reasons for not attending school

One of the greatest barriers to education continues to be equity in access. Based on the results of the NPS 2020/21:

  • For those who have stopped attending school, many indicate they are satisfied with the level of education they have acquired.

  • 23 percent indicate they stopped in order to work.

  • The above two reasons are more prevalent among males and those living in urban areas. 

  • Financial constraints were relatively non-existent in Zanzibar, though common in Dar es Salaam.

  • Females in rural areas and Zanzibar disproportionately reported that marriage was the reason they were unable to currently attend school.



Health data provides an insight into the general wellbeing of the population. The NPS data shows two health related indicators: births attended by skilled health workers and nutrition of children. 

1. Births attended by skilled health workers 

Across the 5 waves of NPS over a period of 15 years, there has been a marked increase in the proportion of births attended by skilled health workers.

Place of birth:

For children born during 24 months prior to NPS 2020/21, 42% were born in hospitals while 21% were delivered at dispensaries. There was also an increase in the registration of births across the two surveys.


2. Nutrition of children

Considerable progress was made in the realm of health and nutrition of children in Tanzania. Stunting, wasting, and underweight rates for children under 5, each decreased between 2014/15 and 2020/21 with the largest decrease in stunting.


Welfare based transition

Consumption-based welfare transitions evaluate the movement of households in and out of welfare quintiles over time, allowing researchers and policy makers to understand the economic well-being of individuals.

In Tanzania,

  • Less than half of the poorest households in 2014/15 remained in the lowest quintile, indicating that more than half were able to successfully transition to higher welfare quintiles.
  • Those who were in the highest quintile in 2014/15 generally remained in the same quintile in 2020/21; more than half stayed in the top most quintile while some transitioned to the fourth quintile.

Labor Market

1. Labor Force Participation

The labor force participation rate remained stable at nearly 80 percent in 2020/21, with the highest rates among those 25-34 years of age and 35-64 years of age. 

2. Sectoral Employment 

The NPS results from 2020/21 show that: 

  • The agriculture sector: It remains the predominant sector in Tanzania by employing over 60 percent of the workforce. Within the agriculture sector, employment was the most common for the youngest individuals (15-24 years) and oldest individuals (65+ Years).

    It was less common for men to be employed in agriculture and service sectors where their participation was lower than the national average and women.

  • The service industry: This is second most common sector, likely due to increasing urbanization and as non-farm opportunities become more readily available.

  • Employment in industries: Though the least common, it remained the most transitionary: approximately two-thirds of those employed in the industry sector in 2014/15 had moved into the agriculture and service sectors by 2020/21. In the industry sector, employment was the highest for middle aged individuals.

Food security

There has been a steady progress in the economic and social development of Tanzania and the state of food security has vastly improved. The three food insecurity indicators measured are: worried about not having enough food; experiencing negative changes in diet and experiencing reduced food intake. 

Around 42.1 percent of the population did not have enough to eat in 2014/15 and this percentage dropped to 17.5 percent in 2020/21. The average number of months with food shortage also fell, from 3.4 to 3.2 months across this time frame.

The NPS results from 2020/21 show that: 

  • The most common causes of food shortages were drought, poor rains and lack of money.

  • Financial constraints were much more common amongst non-farm households and those in urban areas.

  • Drought/poor rains, along with small land size, a lack of farm inputs, and pests, expectedly affected more farm households.


Tanzania remains a predominantly agrarian country. Increasing agricultural productivity through improved and sustainable practices is vital to ensuring the country’s growth and development. 

Results from the NPS 2020/21 indicate that:  

  • Engagement in agricultural intensification appears increasingly common in farm households

  • Use of organic fertilizer, inorganic fertilizer, pesticides/herbicides, and improved seeds all increased between 2014/15 and 2020/21.
  • Many farm households are now using fertilizers, while nearly half are using improved seeds


Lastly, the survey finds a consistent increase in the average yields of maize and paddy crops since 2014/15 across all plot types:

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    Panel surveys

    The LSMS team works with national statistics offices to design and implement panel surveys. Data and reports are publicly available.