Reopening of STEP Africa
the STEP Africa House will reopen from July 1st 2020! The Tanzanian government has lifted the international flight ban and abolished the two-week quarantine upon entry. A lockdown was also ruled out for the future. Several airlines will resume flights to Tanzania from June. Universities and secondary schools will reopen next week, with the remaining schools expected to follow soon. There is a great need for support in the projects!
We have carefully and intensively considered the decision to reopen. We consider the situation in Tanzania to be stable, the situation in the hospitals is easing. In the meantime, many doctors in Tanzania are convinced that there was a first wave of Covid cases in January and February of this year already. Tanzania has very close trade relations with China. Several direct flights and freight ships normally travel between Africa and China on a daily basis. Our “Patient Zero” may have set foot on Tanzanian soil way before March 16. It should also be borne in mind that in February there were no testing facilities for the novel corona virus in Tanzania yet (and most other countries in Africa). There were also reports of an unusually large number of respiratory diseases in our immediate vicinity at the beginning of this year. The high death rate in Africa feared by the WHO has not been confirmed. On the contrary, it seems to be true that the very young median age of the population in Africa reduces the overall risk of severe cases. In Tanzania, improved hygiene education and regulations have also curbed this year’s cholera season, a disease that often kills young children too.
We are aware that there is still a lot of uncertainty, not least because Tanzania has opted for a special route that is often criticized in the international press. Case numbers are not published regularly, the president has openly criticized the validity of COVID19 tests and the work of the WHO. Nevertheless, many people here praise the government’s current approach. Statements by the President that compare the effects of COVID19 diseases with the effects of lockdown-related diseases, poverty and famine are quite justified. For a developing country like Tanzania, it is not necessarily desirable to set the same standards as for western nations! Covid is also far from the only disease that poses a threat to the people of Tanzania. And even in Europe, Asia and America, the devastating consequences of the economic lockdown are currently clearly evident, only that nobody will starve there! As everywhere in the world, a significant number of undetected cases can also be expected in Tanzania. Unfortunately, the number of infected people worldwide is rarely compared to the tests actually carried out, so that a comparison of the number of cases is not very expedient anyway. Due to the few restrictive measures in Tanzania, it can be assumed that many people in Tanzania have already been infected with the virus (keyword: herd immunity).
Life has to go on, even if COVID19 will still be with us -worldwide- for a long time! Our entire team has been in Arusha all through the pandemic. As always, we will be there for you at any time and will provide you with detailed information about recommended protective measures to reduce the risk for you and others to a minimum. We would like to emphasize that we do not want to put anyone under pressure with our decision to reopen. We are aware that for many the global situation and the associated uncertainty may seem too high for a stay in Tanzania this summer. We fully understand this! Nobody will suffer disadvantages from a delayed arrival, we will fully credit any fees already paid.
We promise those who are considering an arrival from July onwards that we will be there for you at any time with full commitment and that you can get to know the Tanzania that we love so much. We used our closure to come up with a lot of new ideas and plans and can’t wait to share them with our volunteers. Last but not least, we are doing well ourselves and we feel safe and we would like to accomblish all of this for you too! Tanzania was also been slowed down by the whole situation and this is the perfect moment to get to know the quiet side of Arusha and to spend time exploring nature instead of crowded bars 🙂
We already have commitments for July, so you will have company of other volunteers. As always, I am available to answer your questions and concerns at any time! Further updates, decision making support and details on the individual projects will follow in the course of the week.
With wind regards from Arusha,
Kira and the whole STEP Africa Team