Volunteering in Tanzania
Discover volunteering opportunities in Tanzania, home to Africa's highest peak - Mount Kilimanjaro - and many of the continent’s great lakes and wildlife reserves.
Tanzania offers a variety of natural attractions including the vast wild plains of the Serengeti, pristine beaches of Mafia and Zanzibar islands, rugged snowcapped Kilimanjaro Mountain, the depths of Lake Tanganyika, as well as the historical towns of Bagamoyo and Kilwa.
Key cities include the capital of Dodoma, Dar es Salaam, Mwanza, Mbeya, Tanga and Arusha. There are 120 tribes in Tanzania with more than 120 languages, the most commonly spoken is Kiswahili.
Tanzania gained independence from the UK in 1961. Despite sustaining relatively high economic growth over the last decade, and achieving some success in reducing the poverty rate, rapid population growth has meant that Tanzania’s absolute number of people experiencing poverty has not declined.
Poverty is a major problem in Tanzania, contributing to significant and complex development challenges. Almost a third of Tanzanians live below poverty line, and the country faces a number of tough barriers to development. The economy is largely restricted to agriculture. Infrastructure is often insufficient, and local businesses are constrained by limited support and investment opportunities.
Australian volunteers have supported a wide range of Tanzania partner organisations achieve their development goals since 1992.
Volunteering opportunities in Tanzania support communities across a range of development priorities, including:
- Women’s leadership, economic empowerment and eradicating violence against women and girls
- Agriculture and food security
- Supporting people living with disabilities
- Improving access to basic health services – especially maternal and child health
- Supporting local artisanal miners
- Supporting socio-economic enterprises aimed at reducing poverty levels
‘Karibu’ is the word that followed us everywhere: 'welcome'
Discover how Australian volunteer, Gerry and his family of six spent 18 months in Tanzania
Life as a volunteer in Tanzania
Culture and religion
Tanzanian society is male-dominated - men tend to hold most positions of power and are regarded as head of the family and main provider.
Religion plays an important role in the day-to-day lives of Tanzanians. Islam and Christianity are the two main religions, with a smaller minority of people practicing Hinduism, Buddhism or traditional beliefs.
Volunteers in Tanzania will predominantly work alongside local staff who speak English. However, a basic understanding of Kiswahili is helpful as it will lead to a more fulfilling experience. We recommend learning basic phrases as it will be much appreciated by your colleagues and wider community. We offer local language training to all volunteers, which can be discussed further with your in-country team.
Situated on the East African Coast along the Indian Ocean, Tanzania is experiences a variety of temperatures from tropical weather on the coast to a cooler climate in the highlands.
There are two major rainy seasons; light rainfall from October to December and more consistent, heavy rain from March to June. The central plateau tends to be dry and arid throughout the year.
There are five mobile phone providers in Tanzania, the two biggest providers are Vodacom and Airtel. All mobile phone providers offer internet connectivity. Internet connection is typically strong and affordable in all major cities and towns.
Supermarkets are common in cities, although most locals prefer buying produce from markets. Restaurants offer a range of dishes including western style food and local and international cuisines. Vegetarians and vegans are well catered for as meals are often plant-based, however, options may be limited when visiting rural areas.
There is a range of accommodation on offer across Tanzania including private houses, apartments and long-term bed and breakfasts. Most rental houses are unfurnished. Our in-country team will support you to find a suitable accommodation option.
Most locals use public buses, known as 'daladalas', to get around cities. Taxis are plentiful but they not metered, so fares should be negotiated and agreed upon prior to beginning your journey. Alternatively, apps including Uber and Bolt are available in Dar es Salaam, and inDrive is popular in Arusha.
Larger buses connect all cities, towns and villages across the country. There are three railway lines in Tanzania; Tazara, running from Dar es Salaam to Lusaka passing through Morogoro, Iringa and Mbeya. Central line runs from Dar es Salaam to Kigoma through Dodoma and Northern line from Dar es Salaam to Tanga and on to Arusha.
Tanzania is generally safe for visitors. Petty crimes like pickpocketing are common in urban areas but can be avoided or minimised by following basic safety precautions. Women can be targets of sexual harassment and assault. The in-country team briefs volunteers on safety precautions.
Before applying for a volunteering assignment in Tanzania, please do some further research on living in Tanzania and the organisation you are hoping to volunteer with. Successful applicants will have the opportunity to discuss expected living and working arrangements with their recruitment officer.
This dish of rice, meat and spices, cooked in stock, is a favourite of Musa, one of our team in Tanzania.
Download the recipe for Pilau Masala