Africa is the world’s poorest continent. With constant poverty and few chances for employment, visitors can still support craftsman who create items such as jewelry or prepare and sell local foods.

Tanzania: African Crafts
Tanzania: African Craftsbartams / Foter.com / CC BY-ND

When you visit Tanzania, here are some suggestions of how you can help support the local economy during your visit.

Crafts of Tanzania

Many villages in Tanzania sell local crafts from natural materials such as wood, stone, and textiles. There are some charitable organizations where any sales from the crafts go towards helping to support families, those in extreme poverty, or living with disabilities and illnesses. One such organization is called Neema Crafts and their mission is:

“Transforming the lives of people with disabilities in Tanzania, through handicrafts training and employment”

Located near the Ruaha National Park, Neema Crafts is located in Iringa. Their store sells clothes such as dresses and skirts, bags, ceramics, candles and accessories that have been handcrafted from local textiles. There’s even a restaurant part of Neema Crafts that has employed workers who are deaf to prove to locals and visitors how easy it is to communicate with someone who is deaf and to create positive attitudes towards those with hearing disabilities.

Located in Zanzibar, another notable store is Eco Echo which is known for their fair trade items including authentic and affordable Tanzanian gifts. A percentage of what is purchased from Eco Echo goes to benefiting local communities improve their education and receive a clean water supply.

Local Cuisine

A lot of the food and meals you will encounter in Tanzania are similar to those of East African countries. This includes a lot of starches such as beans, cornmeal, millet (small seeded grass), sorghum (a type of grass), and pilaf (rice). Sides can include fish or vegetables and is often placed in a large bowl that is shared by everyone. Meat is usually reserved for special occasions and thus not too common on a day to day basis for locals.

Spices were introduced by the Arabs and are added to dishes, especially pilaf which consists of rice, cinnamon, cumin, hot peppers, and cloves. Fruits are also part of the daily diet including papaya and bananas. In the morning, people will drink chai tea along with small rice cakes and fried flat bread.

Marketplaces

When it comes to the marketplace, be prepared to bargain the prices which vary widely from being very cheap to very expensive. Some booths sell textiles as they are, but others sell them already crafted as clothes ready to wear. At the marketplace you can also purchase beautiful beaded jewelry that parents will sell so that their children can attend school. At the Maasai market, you can purchase handcrafted items made of local redwood.

Wherever you go in the Tanzania Safari you will come across marketplaces filled with local crafts, clothes, jewelry, and food. Take the time to look around and purchase something if you wish as they make wonderful gifts for friends and family back home as well as souvenirs for yourself.

Ashley Williamson is a freelance writer and travel blogger. She is especially interested in all of the opportunities Africa holds for visitors and tourists.