The COVID pivot: COVID and the health project


In the weeks following the COVID-19 outbreak, a group of CDI volunteers, led by Health Project Director Gerard Kuenning, refocused efforts from their project teams toward work on helping address the pandemic outbreak in Tanzania. 

Two primary focuses were introduced for this endeavor. First, the group focused on helping disseminate public health information through partner organizations within Tanzania, including ShuleDirect, JitambueTV, and private blogs. Packets of information addressing preventative measures for mitigating the spread of COVID-19, sanitation, and mental health were created and distributed to these partner groups, who published the materials on their websites.

Second, work was done in attempting to secure care package funding, with these packages to be distributed to at-risk individuals in Dar es Salaam most affected by quarantining and restrictions put in place in response to the pandemic. 

Following the declaration by President John Magufuli on June 8th that Tanzania was ‘COVID free’, published information on COVID-19 by our partner organizations was taken down, in accordance with government regulation. Not wishing to endanger our partner groups, work on these projects was halted.


Gerard Kuenning and Ramsha Hiram have redirected the Health Project’s work towards long term project ideation. They describe the projects and partnerships they are preparing for future Health Project teams to implement. 

The political constraints surrounding implementation of COVID-19 public health work in Tanzania necessitated a return to the Health Project team’s original project plans, but with important changes. Given the imperative to ideate, partner, and implement remotely without the flexibility of seeing our own projects through on-ground, we have geared our fundraising efforts towards supporting organisations making social development efforts in line with the Health Project’s objectives by connecting them to grant funding that they might otherwise be unable to access, while simultaneously fundraising for next year’s initiatives. 

We are ideating on project plans for sexual and reproductive health, sexual harassment, and mental health to be implemented in the long-term in collaboration with KITE, while partnering with local organizations to disseminate information online across these subjects with a view to raising awareness through targeted, needs-based campaigns which are grounded in the specificities of local context. 

Our design sprint phase, which concluded in the first week of August, has enabled us to chalk out a strategy to pursue over the remaining six-weeks of our project period building upon these guidelines in terms of our objectives and our approach towards achieving them. At the same time, the Health team will be supporting CDI in the changes to its organisational structure and recruitment processes that it seeks to introduce by the end of the 2019-2020 term.

By Ramsha Hisham and Gerard KuenningHealth Directors

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