Mara one of the smallest 26 regions of Mainland Tanzania, comprises of only 2.2 percent of land area. The region is named after the Mara River. Musoma serves as the Region's capital. The neighboring regions are Mwanza and Shinyanga (to the south), Arusha (to the south east) and Kagera (through Lake Victoria). To the north east, it borders the Republic of Kenya. According to the 2002 Tanzania National Census, the population of the Mara Region was 1,368,602.
Serengeti National Park, one of the world's most famous game sanctuaries, is within the Mara region. Listed as a World Heritage Site, the national park occupies a vast area of grasslands and woodlands and is home to diverse range of wildlife. It attracts close to 150,000 tourists every year. The sanctuary is home to more than a million wildebeest, 200,000 zebras and 300,000 Thomson’s gazelles. Apart from conventional tourism in the Serengeti there is also a range of ecotourism opportunities available in Mara region.
In spite of its small land area, Mara has the third largest water surface at 10,885 sq kms. Only Mwanza and 15,092 sq kms and Kagera 11,885 sq kms have more extensive water surfaces. Besides, Mara has exploited only 120 ha or less than 5 percent of currently surveyed potential irrigation area of 2.661 ha. This is due to lack of appropriate technology to transfer the fresh water from the Lake to arable land.
The Household Budget Survey found out that 46 percent of Mara region household live below the basic needs poverty, which was only better than Mwanza (48 %), Lindi (53%), and Singida (55%). The region was at the bottom in terms of food poverty, since 35 percent of all households lived under food poverty line. No other region did worse.
Wife beating in Tanzania is increasing every year and gender activists are worried that practice has reached a crisis point. Husbands believe they possess a God-given right to punish their wives whenever they transgress against them. But frustration could be the main cause. Many men have no jobs and without skills and inadequate education, very few can afford self-employment.
Mara is one of the regions in which wife beating is most prevalent. In Mara, out of 238 people interviewed, 90.7% said wife beating was rampant.84.7% of the male respondents affirmed that they had battered their wives. Men from the region also believe beating a woman is a sign of real love for her Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is traditionally performed on women in Tanzania.
Mara is one of the most affected areas. FGM affects 18% of the female population in Tanzania. The most typical age is 7 – 10 years or just before puberty. The Tanzania Sexual Offences Special Provisions Act, a 1998 amendment to the Penal Code specifically prohibits FGM- the penalty is imprisonment up to 15 years, a fine and compensation to victim The FGM is a danger to health and life. It is usually performed without anesthesia and is intensely painful.Life threatening complications can ensue and genital scarring can obstruct childbirth, cause permanent injury or death to women in labor.
The risk of HIV/AIDS transmission is increased in this practice because the procedure is coupled with the loss of blood, and sharing of instrument for a number of operations. Approximately 25 out of every 6,000 girls who undergo the procedure die every year in the Mara region alone. But even though most teenaged girls survive FGM, the procedure often coincides with their premature withdrawal from school, due to arranged marriage or pregnancy. For every 10 girls mutilated, 3 to 5 will drop out. Parents are offered bride price after FGM because daughters are now considered marriageable. In Mara region the practice often continues but is shrouded in secrecy.