Tanzania: Assisting Burundian refugees with COVID-19 prevention

23 July 2020

As part of the Jesuiten Weltweit-funded programme, JRS has already distributed about 100 hand-wash installations and 350 bar soaps at Nduta and Mtendeli camps, in Tanzania. (Jesuit Refugee Service)

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Tanzania has officially reported 509 cases of COVID-19, although the figures have been slowly revealed and governmental measures have raised concern among WHO staff. To counter the pandemic, JRS is supporting forced displaced communities in rural areas who may lack sanitary products or access to information sources

In fact, Tanzania hosts over 286 100 refugees and asylum seekers, most of whom have fled from Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo due to political instability and conflict. 85 per cent live in refugee camps. JRS has been originally working in Mtendeli camp, and has now started serving in Nduta and Nyarugusu camps, in the north-west of Tanzania.

As part of our COVID-19 prevention activities, JRS has already distributed about 100 hand-wash installations and 350 bar soaps at Nduta and Mtendeli camps, targeting 20 primary and secondary schools, as well as public areas such as hospitals, markets, child-friendly spaces, and worship centres in both camps.

The head teachers reported to JRS that the provided hand-washing facilities are very useful, and they are in great demand in the camps’ schools. Following Tanzanian Government’s announcement, the education centres in refugee camps opened their doors again in late June 2020, after being closed because of  COVID-19 deterring measures. Education centres and JRS, therefore, want to ensure that children and teachers can protect themselves from the spread of the coronavirus.

Radio broadcasting has been a crucial channel during the conducted awareness campaigns, too. JRS is still producing one-minute radio COVID-19 prevention adverts and a bi-monthly educative radio programme on the pandemic in Radio Kwizera, a non-profit community radio. With this partnership, JRS offers one hour of information regarding the spreading and prevention of the disease. As well as indications of COVID-19 patients caregiving, JRS is also offering psychosocial support to reduce fear within the community, and to prevent the discrimination and stigmatization towards those who have recently contracted the disease and to COVID-19 survivors.

JRS is using posters and banners to raise awareness of COVID-19 preventative methods. By using more innovative methods such as installing a public announcement system in the Nduta camp and attaching speakers on a car, they have been able to announce the latest, government-approved updates of the pandemic throughout the area.