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Key findings
  • About one in 50 Tanzanians (2%) say a family member fell ill with COVID-19 or tested positive for the virus.
  • About one in seven (14%) say someone in their household lost a job, business, or primary source of income due to the pandemic.
  • The economic effects of the pandemic are particularly pronounced in urban areas (23%) and among those with secondary (23%) or post-secondary (28%) education.
  • Three in 10 Tanzanians (30%) say they have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. The same proportion (31%) say they are unlikely to try to get vaccinated.
  • Respondents who are hesitant to get vaccinated offer a variety of reasons, including distrust of the vaccine (27%) and a reliance on God’s protection (17%).
  • Citizens’ willingness to get vaccinated is strongly associated with their trust in the government to ensure the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • An overwhelming majority (89%) of Tanzanians approve of the government’s response to COVID-19.
  • But a substantial minority believe that “a lot” (17%), “some” (18%), or “a little” (10%) of the resources available to combat the pandemic were lost due to corruption.
  • A majority of Tanzanians endorse using the police or army to enforce public health measures (79%), postponing elections (68%), and censoring media reporting (60%) as justifiable measures during a public health emergency.
  • Considering the COVID-19 experience, three-quarters (76%) of Tanzanians believe that the government is “somewhat” or “very” prepared to deal with future public health emergencies.
  • However, most Tanzanians (75%) also say that more resources should be invested in preparations to respond to health emergencies even if that means fewer resources are available for other health services.

Tanzania experienced its first and most serious wave of COVID-19 from March to June 2020.  The government’s response to the pandemic included partial lockdowns of schools and  international borders and the banning of mass gatherings except for worship (da Corta, et al.  2022; National Bureau of Statistics, 2020). 

Toward the end of April 2020, then-President John Magufuli’s government stopped publishing  data on COVID-19 cases and deaths, citing suspicions of faulty testing kits and a lack of  integrity in the testing process. In addition, sharing of real-time data was thought to cause  public fear and panic. The government was initially hesitant to promote the uptake of  COVID-19 vaccine, advocating instead for the use of traditional/herbal remedies such as  steam therapy and dietary supplements. In June 2020, restrictions on schools, social events,  bars, hotels, and other businesses were relaxed. 

After President Samia Suluhu Hassan took office in March 2021, the government resumed  publishing COVID-19 statistics and declared its commitment to a vaccination programme. As  of 31 December 2023, the World Health Organization (2023) reported 43,223 cases of COVID 19 in Tanzania, with 846 deaths. 

Like the rest of the world, Tanzania was affected socially and economically by the  pandemic. Its gross domestic product growth rate shrank from 7% in 2019 to 4.8% in 2020 (National Bureau of Statistics, 2021a). The effects on employment were temporary, as labour  force participation declined from 72% in January 2020 to 67% in February-March 2021 before  bouncing back to 75% in April-May the same year (National Bureau of Statistics, 2021b). 

Seeking financial assistance to support its COVID-19 Socioeconomic Response and Recovery  Plan, the government secured a USD 567.25 million concessional loan from the International  Monetary Fund to implement development projects in adversely affected sectors such as  health, tourism, water, education, and social protection (Ministry of Finance and Planning,  2022). 

A recent Afrobarometer survey reveals that about one in seven Tanzanian households report  losing a primary source of income due to the pandemic. Only about three in 10 adults say  they have been vaccinated against COVID-19, and willingness to get vaccinated is strongly  associated with trust in the government to ensure vaccine safety. Tanzanians are generally  satisfied with the government’s response to COVID-19, but many also believe that corruption  has led to the loss of public resources meant to address the pandemic.

While most Tanzanians are confident that their government will be well prepared to handle  future health emergencies, a majority also say that greater investment in such preparations is  needed. 

Thadeus Mboghoina

Thadeus Mboghoina is an assistant researcher for REPOA in Dar es Salaam

Jane Mpapalika

Jane Mpapalika is a senior researcher for REPOA, the Afrobarometer national partner in Tanzania.

Constantine Simba

Constantine Simba is a researcher for REPOA.