UNITED REPUBLIC OF TANZANIA
KAGERA REGION – UNIQUE FEATURES
Kagera region is identified in the minds of most Tanzanians as banana and plantain country; the land of coffee and equally the land of plenty. It is also identified as one of the regions which were favoured by early contacts with European missionaries along with Kilimanjaro and Mbeya regions. Consequently, Kagera has had an early start ahead of most Mainland regions in terms of education. In 1967 it has an average adult literacy rate of 40% with only Dar es Salaam, Kilimanjaro and Ruvuma doing better. During the 1978 Census, Tanga, Morogoro, Mara and Iringa had caught up and surpassed Kagera whose ranking deteriorated from number 4 to number 8 which position it also held in 1988.
Kagera had the record of being the remotest region from the administrative
centre of Dar es Salaam along with Kigoma. It has maintained this unfortunate
position even after the move of the country’s capital to Dodoma. The
regional headquarters of Bukoba for Kagera is 616 kms from Dodoma as
the crow flies. Kigoma, the regional capital for Kigoma is 683 kms away.
But unlike Kigoma, Kagera’s isolation in further compounded by poor
roads into the region and by being sandwiched between the neighbouring
countries of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi in the north, west and by the Lake
Victoria waters on the east. The region’s only land route to the rest
of the Mainland is to the south. No other region in the country is bordered
by so many foreign countries. The region’s geographical isolation and
the close proximity to the three foreign countries has made Kagera very
vulnerable to foreign influences and problems. The influx of refugees
from Rwanda and Burundi in the past two decades is a case in point.
No other region has suffered from refugee damage as has Kagera. The
damage by deforestation as some 600,000 refugees sought to make camp
and to meet their demands for fuelwood has been colossal. Game reserves
were heavily poached, morals polluted and drug resistant STDs were introduced.
As if this was not enough, roads were damaged through overuse, health
and water facilities were overloaded.
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