Tanzania SDI Alliance Response to Covid-19

by James Tayler


On behalf of the the Tanzania SDI Alliance, SDI presents the work to fight COVID-19 in Tanzania. The following is an account from the SDI affiliate in Tanzania, with updates on the current work of theTanzania federation and CCI.



The Tanzania Urban Poor Federation together with the Centre for Community Initiatives (CCI) have been carrying out awareness campaigns in Dar es Salaam slum communities for the past eight weeks. The aim of the Tanzania SDI Alliance’s COVID-19 awareness campaign is to educate urban poor communities about the realities of this pandemic, from symptoms to prevention measures and more.

As of mid-April, Tanzania had reported 153 cases of Covid-19. The awareness campaign commenced in Dar es salaam because of its vulnerability to rapid spread of Covid-19 resulting from high population densities and its role as the economic centre of Tanzania. Moreover, Dar es Salaam is home to the only hospital with dedicated Covid-19 facilities.

The Tanzania federation in collaboration and CCI started by identifying the community team who will be providing trainings to other community members and communities that will be targeted. This was followed by the training of a team of eight federation members, many of whom are youth, and two CCI staff members. This team was trained by Temeke Municipal Health officials in order to conduct trainings themselves.

Following this training, an awareness campaign on Covid-19 prevention (for example, frequent hand washing) was rolled out in Kurasini informal settlement in Temeke Municipality with the Kurasini ward health officer participating actively in the campaign roll-out. Having planned to roll out this campaign elsewhere, the Tanzania alliance has (as of 27 May 2020) scaled their Covid-19 awareness and prevention work to Dodoma, Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar, reaching eighteen informal settlements and at least 15,000 people.  


The first place that the Tanzania Alliance carried out its awareness campaign was in Dar’s Kurasini settlement. This included a training of community health workers by Department of Health officials followed by a community education training for the wider community. Both trainings aimed at creating awareness of Covid 19 symptoms, preventative measures, and actions to take when affected with  Covid 19.

The federation / CCI team used a number of methods to try to reach the largest number of people safely. This included use of a megaphone, visiting people house to house while maintaining a 2 meter distance, and use of banners and posters containing educational messaging. In addition to creating awareness, the Tanzania Alliance has made washing buckets, soap and sanitisers available to the Kurasini community.


This initial awareness campaign in Kurasini was very successful, and set the stage for additional campaigns to be carried out in other cities. The partnership created between the municipality and the Tanzania SDI Alliance made it possible for them to work together to reach larger numbers of people, and for the government’s efforts to be aligned with those of the federation.

Despite their overall success, the Tanzania Alliance has faced a number of challenges in scaling up the campaign. They have not been able to afford sufficient quantities of hand washing buckets, sanitisers, or soap to reach the entire population. In addition, they found that many in the communities struggled to take the pandemic seriously and exhibited a passive attitude with regards to the suggested precautions for individuals or in public spaces such as markets. Hopefully the Tanzania Alliance and government will be able to work together to increase awareness effectively.


Although Tanzania did not institute a lockdown as many countries have, the day-to-day experience of many urban poor residents has been impacted. With many businesses closing and people working from home, daily wage earners have struggled to make ends meet during this time:

I am a tailor located in Mtambani settlement in Vingunguti, Dar es salaam. During Ramadan towards Eid celebrations  I always earn a lot of money due to the number of clothes that I am supposed to make (approximately 100 orders for Eid), but this year with COVID 19 has been so challenging that its nearly Eid and I haven’t got so much orders so far. I only have this suit (showing the suit) to make before Eid and I don’t see any sign of having more orders, this is a serious economic disaster that I have ever experienced  since I have been a tailor’’ 

‘’As a local food vendor, the COVID 19 has destroyed my business and affects my economic status as I receive very few customers in a day as very few people come to work, imagine before Covid 19 I use to cook 6kilograms of  baking flours in a day but currently I only make 2 kilograms in a day, as there are no enough customers at  my business areas worrying about COVID 19’’

“I am a mother of three working in 3 star hotel in Dar es salaam, since the ban of the international flight our hotel doesn’t receive any visitors. So the management decided to close the hotel and we are not paid till we open and start working. This has real got me into stress and debts, as I never had enough saving and its Ramadan where I spend a lot of money on food this has been the most challenging time of my life, just praying the Covid 19 ends and I get back to work and start getting back my salary’’


Please keep following SDI as we highlight the initiatives of SDI affiliates across Africa, Asia & Latin America in the fight against COVID-19 to support the most vulnerable throughout this pandemic.