South-South humanitarianism: The case of Covid-organics in Tanzania (2021)

February 10, 2021


Richey, L. A., Gissel, L. E., Kweka, O. L., Bærendtsen, P., Kragelund, P., Hambati, H. Q., & Mwamfupe, A. (2021).

South-South humanitarianism : The case of Covid-organics in Tanzania. World Development, 141, 105375.

The paper is open access and can be downloaded here.

How can the case of Covid-Organics in Tanzania help us to understand South-South humanitarian assistance in times of crisis?

In a recently published article in World Development, EveryHumanTZ researchers - Lisa Ann Richey, Line Engbo Gissel, Opportuna L.Kweka, Pernille Bærendtsen, Peter Kragelund, Herbert Qambalo Hambati and Asubisye Mwamfupe - examine how Tanzania navigated the first COVID-19 wave from March to May 2020. In the initial phase of the pandemic Tanzania’s government issued a call for strict hygiene measures but it did not impose strict lockdowns as its neighbours, and citizens were encouraged to worship, take steam baths and use locally available herbs. Tanzania’s ‘herbal strategy’ was complemented with Covid-Organics, a herbal tonic produced in Madagascar and provided as a gift from the government of Madagascar to Tanzania. Drawing on preliminary data in English and Kiswahili through a variety of methods, the article examines Covid-Organics as an exemplary case of South-South humanitarian assistance (SSHA) in crisis, suggesting that it enabled the Tanzanian government to connect to latent debates about Pan-Africanism and Julius Nyerere’s legacy, while it at the same time provided an opportunity for a public reflection on Africa’s place in the world and like other forms of humanitarianism, reflects elite politics and priorities rather than prioritizing the distribution of humanitarian goods and decreasing inequality.