HelpAge International II

Tanzania, October 2005

Helpage International works in northern Tanzania to address the growing problem of elderly women who are accused of witchcraft. Traditionally women in the region are not entitled to keep their husband’s land or livestock after they die & it is returned to his family or is passed on to his children. Old women are therefore often left destitute with no means of survival.

The growing problem with HIV/ AIDS in the region has also resulted in many people between the ages of 18 & 49 dying. Many elderly people have lost all their children and are now the sole carers of their grandchildren. The HIV epidemic is fueling belief in witchcraft and women who lose children are being accused of conjuring up their deaths. The sickness is being blamed by communities on witchcraft that increases older women’s vulnerability.

Some people have been brutally murdered as a result and others have been left severely disabled or injured. There is little legal redress and many women are too scared to approach the local police.


  • Beneficiaries of Helpage programs in Karagwe District, Northern Tanzania. Kate Holt.
  • A beneficiary of Help Age's program in Karagwe District, Northern Tanzania. Kate Holt.
  • Diana Iblahim lives in Kagenyi Village and is the sole carer of four grandchildren. Kate Holt.
  • An elderly beneficiary is seen with her Thai Water Jar. Kate Holt.
  • A woman works on the Pineapple Project that was established in 2003 in Iteera Village. Kate Holt.
  • Faustina Augustina is a HelpAge / Sawata beneficiary living in Karagwe District. Kate Holt.
  • In Kagenyi Healthcare Centre an elderly woman looks after her sick grandson. Kate Holt.
  • Limi Nadaki was accused of being a witch by the local community after all of her children and husband died. Kate Holt.
  • Remy is 90 years old and is the sole carer of her mentally disabled son who is 63 years old. Kate Holt.
  • A group of young people perform educational songs and plays that warn people. Kate Holt.
  • A group of elderly women watch a play performed by a group of young people that warn people. Kate Holt.