Twinning with Tanzania

Aug 24, 2011

Jeane Anastas, PhD, LMSW

Social work is a re-emerging profession in Tanzania, which is in East Africa, and the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) is lending a hand. Through the NASW Foundation’s Social Workers Across Nations (SWAN) initiative, NASW partners with social work associations overseas to help them develop as organizations, so they in turn can develop social work and social welfare services in their home countries. This year, SWAN received a contract to conduct a “twinning project” in Tanzania, pairing NASW with TASWO (the Tanzanian Association of Social Workers) to support the development of the social work profession and to advance social welfare policy.

On August 15, as the NASW President,  I was privileged to speak at their Annual General Meeting about all of the many things NASW-USA does nationally and at the local (chapter) level as well as about regulation (registration and licensing), ethical standards, and continuing education. The meeting got excellent press coverage, which informs the public about what social work is and why it is important.

Later in the week we accompanied TASWO leadership to a meeting with the Commissioner of Social Welfare for the nation, Mr. Makala. He and the President of TASWO, Dr. Mblinyi, will be coming to NASW in Washington later this fall to continue our dialogue.

Tanzania was one of the first nations in Africa to be hit by the AIDs pandemic in the 1980s, and it is estimated that at least 10% of the population now has the virus. The infection rate is very high among women (and men) of child-bearing age, meaning that there are also many orphans and other children and adolescents whose health and well-being are at risk. Poverty, malnutrition, problems in access to education, and many other challenges add to these difficulties. None of these social problems will be easily solved, but we know that the social work profession must be strong for any society to do so. By the way, Tanzania is also a nation where there is an informal but effective agreement that Muslims and Christians will take turns in occupying the national Presidency, so we have much to learn from Tanzania as well. Thank you to The United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and American International Health Alliance (AIHA) for the funding to make this social work to social work partnership possible. Finally, your gifts to the NASW Foundation support the SWAN Initiative and many other worthy projects at home and abroad.