Political instability and violence in Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have forced more than 350,000 people to seek protection in neighbouring Tanzania. The majority reside in the country’s three largest refugee camps.
Tanzania has a strict encampment policy. Refugees are forced to stay in mass shelters where they lack privacy and basic facilities. The risk of disease and abuse is high, and vital resources, like firewood for cooking and water, are scarce.
Despite the voluntary repatriation of 57,865 Burundian refugees, the camps are still full, and authorities are reluctant to open new camps. Humanitarian organisations, despite efforts, struggle to provide enough drinking water to the refugees, let alone education for the thousands of children who are missing out on school.
Tanzania pulled out of the UN’s Comprehensive Refugee Response Network and has restricted refugees’ access to livelihood projects including markets and small businesses. Meanwhile, all borders have been closed for refugees. With limited resources and funding, the situation remains dire.
After civil war broke out in Burundi in 2015, we started operations in Tanzania to support people living in Mtendeli and Nduta refugee camps close to the Burundian border. In May 2017, we expanded our operations and we now manage Nyarugusu refugee camp.
Overcrowding in camps makes it difficult to meet increasing needs. Together with other humanitarian organisations, we advocate for the Tanzanian government to urgently allocate viable land for new refugee camps.
We plan the coordination of refugees in this largest camp in Tanzania, which host 154,647 refugees as of December 2018. Our teams:
- map the needs of the displaced populations
- identify the needs and gaps and reduce overlapping of services
- promote mutual communication between actors in the camps, assessing the support needed for community leaders to exercise their role in a more transparent and efficient way
- train our local staff to run help desks in refugee camps
The situation in the education sector is disastrous. For every classroom that exists, there is a need for eight more. As Tanzanian authorities do not accept temporary structures, many children are learning outside under trees in huge groups. Our teams:
- provide vocational training including basic education, life skills and entrepreneurship skills to youth.
- provide quality training for teachers
- provide catch-up classes for children who are out of school, as well as teenagers and youth with a focus on females, especially young mothers.
- establish safe learning spaces for children and youth
- provide nurseries for young mothers to make it easier for them to study
- advocate for safe temporary learning spaces to encourage girls and youth to study
Shelter and settlements
Lack of shelter has been identified as one of the main needs in the camps. Over 60 per cent of the residents live in emergency shelters and tents that are in poor condition. We provide shelter in Mtendeli Camp where our teams:
- construct transitional shelters - we have so far constructed 423 shelters in 2018
- provide emergency shelter facilities
- construct primary schools and a youth community centre
- develop more cost efficient and environmentally friendly shelter solutions
Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) promotion
In crowded camps, it is essential that people have proper sanitation facilities and good hygiene practices to prevent diseases. We work with UNHCR in Nyarugusu Camp where we provide WASH services. Our teams:
- provide safe drinking and domestic water. On average we produce and distribute 109,530 m3 per month which translates to a crude average of 23 litres per person a day
- construct block latrines in schools
- assist and facilitate refuges to construct latrines
- provide basic hygiene items, such as soap
- conduct hygiene promotions on good hygiene practices
- facilitate meat and fish inspections and undertake vector controls
Information, counselling and legal assistance (ICLA)
In a bid to focus more on realising the protection and durable solutions of the refugees in Tanzania, we started the ICLA program in Tanzania in the last quarter of 2018. Focus was to carry out an assessment both in the camps and in the host community. The results of this assessment will inform programming in 2019.
- Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (NMFA)
- United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)
- United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR)
- Department for International Development (DFID)
- Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development (DEVCO)