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No, World Bank hasn’t praised Tanzania’s Covid-19 response or warned other African countries against ‘western’ policies

“World Bank Applauds Tanzania on Anti Corona Policy Response, warns African Countries Copying Western Anti-Covid 19 Policies,” reads the headline of an article shared on Facebook.

The article, published on Uganda’s Red Pepper news site on 13 April 2020, claims its source is the World Bank “Africa’s Purse” report titled “assessing the economic impact of COVID-19 and Policy Responses in Sub-Saharan Africa”.

“Tanzania unlike other African countries has not locked down businesses and its citizens,” the article says.

“The country has not also closed its borders but initiated strict testings and 14 days quarantine to all arrivals. The WB report warns catastrophic consequences to sub-Saharan countries that have copied and pasted anti COVID-19 policies.”

A similar write-up with the same headline has been circulating on WhatsApp in Kenya and Tanzania.

Tanzania’s Covid-19 response

Other countries in the East Africa region – Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda – have banned mass gatherings in churches, mosques and other places of worship. But Tanzanian president John Magufuli continues to go to church and has vowed not to close the country’s places of worship. He also refuses to restrict movement or implement measures to contain the coronavirus that would harm Tanzania’s economy.

Tanzania now has 170 confirmed cases of Covid-19, having increased from 46 on the day the Red Pepper article was published, and 32 on 10 April. 

Tanzania’s health ministry does issue guidelines on how to combat Covid-19, emphasising social distancing and hand-washing, and urging the public to listen to expert advice. The ministry also warns people not to believe false information about the coronavirus.

But has a World Bank report praised Tanzania’s response to the coronavirus pandemic?

World Bank’s Africa Pulse report

The World Bank’s Africa Pulse report, “Assessing the Economic Impact of Covid-19 and Policy Responses in sub-Saharan Africa”, was released on 9 April 2020.

The highlights of the report reveal the World Bank’s alarm at the possible effects of Covid-19 on African economies, specifically with regard to food security, vulnerable people and economic growth. But there’s neither praise nor criticism for any country.

We also checked the World Bank’s country page for Tanzania, but there was no report “applauding” the country’s Covid-19 response.

‘No specific mention or assessment’

Africa Check asked World Bank communications officer Vera Rosaeur about the article. She sent us a link to a press statement dated 14 April.

“Our attention has been drawn to news articles currently circulating in Tanzania and on various other websites regarding the World Bank’s recent economic update for sub-Saharan Africa,” the statement says.

The Africa Pulse report, it says, focused on “significant impacts of the Covid-19 crisis on the region’s economy and on the welfare of citizens, and offered recommendations on the appropriate actions that governments may need to consider”.

“In the report, the World Bank does not make specific mention or assessment of Tanzania’s Covid-19 response,” the statement concludes. – Alphonce Shiundu


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