Social work students contribute to COVID-19 response efforts in Tanzania

Nipissing University students from the International Social Work class recently completed a community service learning project with a non-governmental organization in Tanzania called Peri-Urban Ambulatory Nexus Tanzania (PANETA), aimed at mitigating the spread of COVID-19 among the working poor in the busy Kariakoo market area in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. 

Under the supervision of Anna Przednowek, assistant professor, School of Social Work, the fourth year students were able to raise 905,229 TSH ($491.07 CAD) to support the PANETA COVID-19 initiative. The students organized two virtual fundraisers in support of the cause including a Zumba event and a trauma informed yoga seminar. The money raised will be spent on locally made cloth masks, soap, sanitizer and the development of hygiene instructions (in Kiswahili) and educational posters that will be displayed throughout the Kariakoo market area.

Kariakoo is the central market ward of Dar es Salaam, with 1.5 million people passing through the area each day. The dense population of the market area makes it extremely challenging for residents and workers to practice physical distancing guidelines, and economic pressures on low-income residents give few the choice but to visit the district for work or access to goods. 

"Having the opportunity to participate in a virtual fundraising initiative in partnership with PANETA was a unique experience that taught me a lot about both myself as a person as well as a future social worker,” said Gabrielle Brunet, social work student. “As a Franco-Ontarian woman completing my Bachelor of Social Work, I feel more prepared to partner with international non-government funded organizations because of this experience.”

Due to Kariakoo’s high density and transient population, it was determined that an effective intervention should include public hand-sanitizing facilities, face masks, and enhanced public education in line with national and international guidelines, including proper hand and mask hygiene.

“Through PANETA, my fellow classmates and I had the opportunity to see a different story of Africa, one that we do not see all the time,” said social work student, Esther Mikisi Weyibula. “This project was important because it highlighted how the media covers the negative sides of African countries leaving the good sides out. Watching the videos and connecting with PANETA showed us a different side of the people in Tanzania and how lovely, uniting, and welcoming they are.”

PANETA is a non-governmental organization with a vision to be a leading voice for the health and wellness of rural communities in Tanzania. PANETA plans to see this vision played out by rectifying the factors that deteriorate the health status in peri-urban areas. More information on PANETA can be found at

Community Service LearningSchool of Social Work