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 stay in mass shelters, lacking privacy and basic facilities.
Despite the voluntary repatriation of 74,099 Burundian refugees, the camps are still full. Humanitarian organisations struggle to provide basic services including drinking water, education, shelter and social services.
Tanzania has 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 are closed for refugees. With limited resources and funding, the situation remains dire. Through a tripartite agreement between Burundi, Tanzania and UNHCR, 90,000 Burundian refugees are projected to return in 2019. NRC will advocate to maintain the voluntary return principles of an informed decision and a dignified return to safe areas.
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 may reduce if the targeted population is returned. The main advocacy issue is to uphold the voluntary return principles of an informed decision, and dignified return to safe areas.
We plan the coordination of refugees in the largest camp in Tanzania, which hosts 144,645 refugees as of July 2019. 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; in 2018 we constructed 1,248
- provide emergency shelter facilities; in 2018 we provided 362
- distribute and erect pre-fabricated refugee housing units; in 2018 we provided 95, but plan for 1,000 in 2019
- 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 of and durable solutions for the refugees in Tanzania, we started the ICLA programme in Tanzania in the last quarter of 2018. The assessment in 2018 informed programming for 2019, albeit some difficulties are still being experienced in getting full approval from the government for NRC to implement the ICLA activities. Programmes in support of civil documentation, especially provision of birth certificates for children under 10, are ongoing in the host communities.
- Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (NMFA)
- United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)
- United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR)
- UK Department for International Development (DFID)
- EU Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development (DEVCO)
- Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida)
About NRC in Tanzania
Tanzania crisis ignored: “You people should look at us”
In Tanzania, a peaceful country hosting 335,000 refugees, the lack of funding is so dire that aid agencies are struggling to meet even the most basic needs. NRC needs all the support we can get to make a difference.