Tanzania meeting focuses on combatting poverty

Feb 18, 2015

By Rena Malai, News staff

NASW — as part of the ongoing relationship with the Tanzania Social Workers Association, or TASWO —  was invited to TASWO’s annual meeting in October, held in Dar es Salaam. The meeting focused on the issues surrounding poverty in Tanzania, and the role social work plays.

A group of social workers talk together during a break at the annual Tanzania Social Workers Association (TASWO) conference held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in October. Two NASW leaders traveled to Tanzania to represent NASW and give a presentation on social safety nets that are in place in the United States.

NASW CEO Angelo McClain and NASW President Darrell Wheeler filmed a video greeting to TASWO at the NASW national office in Washington, D.C., which was played for attendees at the meeting.

“NASW, as you well know, represents over 130,000 social workers throughout the United States,” Wheeler said in the video greeting. “It is my distinct pleasure to bring you greetings. Your country, and east Africa in general, hold a very special place in my heart.”

Melvin Wilson, manager of NASW’s Department of Social Justice and Human Rights; and Heidi McIntosh, NASW’s Deputy Director of Programs, traveled to Tanzania to represent NASW at the meeting.

Wilson and McIntosh gave a presentation that outlines the social safety nets — defined as an overarching set of government policies to eliminate poverty — that are in place in the U.S.

Their presentation included a discussion about implementing such safety nets in Tanzania. They noted that in Tanzania, safety nets could accelerate poverty reduction by enabling the poor to participate more actively in the growth process and helping them escape intergenerational poverty traps.

“Tanzania is geographically a large country with tremendous amounts of poverty across rural and urban areas. For example, many sectors of the country function without electricity or running water,” Wilson said. “The presentation outlined the structure of the history of poverty in the U.S., the challenges and the successes. The Tanzanian government, with the help of TASWO, is committed to alleviating poverty. However, a major effort of this type takes time — just like it took time to set up the safety nets we have here in the United States.”

About 100 social workers from across Tanzania attended the four-day meeting. Attendees also talked about the child welfare system in the country, issues of child abuse and neglect, and access to medical and other services for children and families that are considered to be vulnerable.

The partnership between NASW and TASWO is designed to exchange knowledge of social work practice and to support TASWO in its efforts to become a strong, stand-alone professional organization.

From the February 2015 NASW News. NASW members can read the full story after logging in.

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