WFP Supply Chain & Tanzania Railways — Partners in economic development
WFP’s partnership with Tanzania in developing a transport infrastructure goes far beyond just transport services; it is literally supporting the resurgence of a once-dormant corridor to boost regional economic growth.
The July launch of the Lake Victoria rail-lake-rail corridor to transport food from Dar es Salaam to Kampala has brought the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and the Government of Tanzania several steps closer together. The corridor solidifies Tanzania’s position as a strategic gateway to a number of landlocked countries in the region — and it underscores how an efficient supply chain is fundamental for economic growth.
More broadly, the development of transport infrastructure, including rail and road, also has a direct impact on economic growth in neighboring countries. An efficient supply chain environment in Tanzania, therefore, offers much more than just transport services; it also serves as an economic corridor for Tanzania, Uganda and even South Sudan.
WFP Tanzania is an effective partner of the government in other ways as well; including by using innovative methods to support national efforts to improve nutrition and smallholder farmer productivity, and as an organization that uses its global capacity and experience in the supply chain to stimulate growth.
The new Lake Victoria rail corridor not only reduces transit time — from ten days by road to five by rail — but it also creates opportunities for the commercial sector to follow in its footsteps. Indeed, since the opening of the corridor, the private sector has increasingly begun using the Lake Victoria rail-lake-rail route.
Furthering the growing partnership, Tanzania Railways has invited WFP to act as an advisor to its board in a broader effort to make the state-financed company a more efficient and financially self-sustaining organization, which in turn contributes to the country’s economic development.
Today, WFP and Tanzania Railways share the same vision; to make Tanzania Railways a viable mode of commercial transport. This doesn’t necessarily mean railway must compete with road transport. Rather, the two can work together to deliver more, through multi-modal transport.
Under this mechanism, the rail company can offer door-to-door services to its customers by partnering with road transport companies. This allows clients to work with a single company, which then sub-contracts trucks and trains as needed, increasing efficiency for both clients — including WFP — and the railways. This will further reduce the cost of the overall corridor making it more competitive with other ones in the region.
WFP Tanzania looks forward to strengthening our partnership with Tanzania Railways to ensure greater food security, a stronger economy and a brighter future for the country.
This article originally appeared in Tanzania’s The Guardian on 25 October 2018.