Funding Invigorates Tanzania Partnership

Jeane Anastas, center, Elizabeth Lema, left, Ramadhani Shaji MaganaNASW President Jeane Anastas, center, meets with Elizabeth Lema, left, and Ramadhani Shaji Magana.

The American International Health Alliance, through its HIV/AIDS Twinning Center funded by the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), has awarded the National Association of Social Workers Foundation a grant that will allow NASW to continue partnering with the Tanzania Association of Social Workers (TASWO).

TASWO is NASW’s sister organization in Tanzania. This project is part of NASW’s Social Work Across Nations (SWAN) Project, an initiative that enables U.S. social workers to collaborate and partner with social workers and social work organizations around the world.

By partnering, or “twinning,” with TASWO, NASW will help support development of the social work profession in Tanzania. Social workers from the two nations will also work together to brainstorm social welfare policies to address issues that exist in greater and lesser extents in both countries, including HIV/AIDS, child welfare, and boosting public recognition of the value of social workers.

“NASW and TASWO are involved in a broader initiative to strengthen the social welfare workforce to address issues faced by vulnerable populations,” said Amy Bess, MSW, a senior practice associate in NASW’s Human Rights and International Affairs division who traveled to Tanzania in March to meet with Tanzanian social workers and carry out an organizational assessment with TASWO leadership.

As a result of the conference on strengthening the social welfare workforce held in Cape Town, South Africa, last November, NASW has joined several organizations in efforts to bring more attention and support to social workers and social work associations in Tanzania and other sub-Saharan African nations.

Although still in its early stages, the connection between NASW and TASWO continues to strengthen.

Past NASW President James Kelly and Luisa Lopez, former director of the NASW Human Rights and International Development division, visited Tanzania in 2010 to speak with TASWO members and participate in strategic planning meetings with TASWO leaders.

Most recently, NASW President Jeane Anastas and Lopez delivered speeches at TASWO’s annual general meeting on Aug. 15. They also held meetings with staff of TASWO and the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, including Dr. Leonard Mbilinyi, TASWO chairperson, and Dunford Makala, commissioner of Social Welfare. Later this Fall, a delegation from TASWO is scheduled to visit NASW headquarters in Washington, D.C.

During her speech, Anastas talked about the many things NASW and its chapters do on the national and state level as well as about registration, ethical standards and continuing education. TASWO has requested input from NASW on plans to set up a credentialing or licensing system for social workers in Tanzania.

TASWO is also seeking tips on how to raise revenue, plan and carry out continuing education courses and initiate a Tanzanian social work journal, Bess said.

Social work is a reemerging profession in Tanzania, an African nation on the coast of the Indian Ocean with a population of more than 43 million people.

“It is exciting for NASW to work together with social workers in Tanzania to further develop the social work profession in both countries,” Bess said. “We are learning a great deal from the Tanzanian side, as social workers in the United States and Tanzania are confronting many of the same social problems and professional challenges.”