Tanzania’s experience with coronavirus has, in some senses, been regionally distinct. On 29 April, as neighbouring countries imposed strict lockdowns and curfews, the government in this country of 56 million stopped reporting new cases altogether. And although mass gatherings were initially banned and some businesses opted to close voluntarily, a full lockdown never materialised.
Now, new research from Hand in Hand shows that in other senses, Tanzania’s experience has been all too familiar. Conducted in June, the rapid-response survey of 372 Hand in Hand members in Arusha and Kilimanjaro regions, 81 percent of them women, sought to understand how small business owners in Tanzania’s informal sector were coping economically with coronavirus. The results paints a picture of growing poverty and vanishing savings – of a piece with, if not quite on par with, its neighbours.