The first Dutch volunteers arrived in Africa in 1963, following the establishment of the US Peace Corps volunteers. However, it was not until 1971 that Tanzania requested SNV for volunteers, leading to the establishment of the country programme. The programme quickly developed into one of the largest within SNV, with 71 Dutch volunteers in the mid 1970s. During the 1980s SNV became a professional development organisation. In 1985 the first Tanzanian professional joined SNV.
In the subsequent decade SNV managed a number of large, mostly Dutch funded development projects, including TIP – Traditional Irrigation Program, District Rural Development Programs in Songea, Monduli and Kondoa, and FAIDA, a small scale enterprises development program based in Arusha. In the early 2000s, SNV became a capacity development organisation providing services to a wide range of actors in the a select sectors. In line with its corporate policy, three quarters of its professional staff is now Tanzanian, and one quarter expatriate.
Over the last 40 years, SNV has worked in all corners of the country, from Ruvuma in the south (e.g. the SODA programme in Songea) to Moshi in the north (e.g. the physiotherapy school of KCMC), and from Morogoro in the east (e.g. the oilseeds program) to Mwanza in the west (e.g. the Pasiansi Boatyard Project), and with a strong concentration of activities over the years in the central part (Dodoma). It is estimated that over 500 Dutch staff and more than 200 Tanzanian have passed through the programme over the last 40 years.
Over the years, SNV has been active in a wide range of sectors. To enable effective and efficient knowledge brokering and increase our added value and expertise level, SNV's focus turned to a limited number of sectors. In 2011, and following corporate's decision, we reduced our interventions to three sectors: Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, Renewable Energy and Agriculture. Sustainable Pro Poor Tourism and Education were phased out in 2011. SNV was successful in the tourism sector, as the initiator of the so called Cultural Tourism Programme, which enabled local communities to generate more income out of the growing tourism sector of Tanzania.