Read caption Photo: Patric Ekløf/NRC

NRC in Tanzania

NRC started activities in Kigoma region of Tanzania in 2016 to assist Burundian refugees with education, shelter, water and sanitation and hygiene.

Humanitarian and political background

Burundi is again a country hovering on the brink of full scale civil war. In the past year and a half, hundreds of people have been killed and more than 325,000 have been forced to flee the country, most of them to Tanzania. The current crisis started in April 2015, following President Pierre Nkurunziza's decision to ignore the constitution and seek a controversial third term in office. The President's announcement triggered widespread public protest and a failed coup attempt. The authorities responded with a heavy crackdown on the protesters and the opposition. The country is now in a permanent state of violence and there are reports of continued and widespread rights abuses, including abductions, torture, rape and heavy restrictions on the media and free speech.

Poor conditions in the refugee camps
Daily influx from Burundi continues to overwhelm the capacity of service providers in the camps to provide adequate shelter, latrines and access to drinking water. In addition, children and adolescents of school-going age (3-17 years) comprise 46% of the total refugee population. At the same time, education opportunities within the refugee camps are extremely limited and out-of-school rates in the camp are therefore very high.

Strict encampment policy
Tanzanian government maintains strict encampment policy for all refugees, meaning that refugees are not allowed to move outside the camps.
At the same time, the existing camps are full and overcrowded. The Tanzanian authorities are reluctant to open new camps to accommodate the increasing number of refugees. This is increasingly becoming a concern for the UN and other agencies on the ground, especially considering that a deterioration of the situation in Burundi or the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo could result in a large increase in the number of daily arrivals.

NRC activities in the field

After an assessment mission by NRC's Emergency Response Team, NRC started up operations in Tanzania in the second half of 2016 and is starting up education, shelter and water, sanitation and hygiene activities in January 2017 to assist Burundian refugees.

Education

The situation in the education sector is disastrous. Nearly two-thirds of the refugee population are children under the age of 18, and the need for education and youth activities is enormous. This calls for a need for both infrastructure and quality improvement of formal and informal education.

For every classroom that exists, there is a need for eight more. The Tanzanian authorities do not accept temporary structures and therefore most of the children are learning outside under trees in huge groups. Where classrooms exist, they are overcrowded and one can find 200-300 pupils per class.

In order to address the needs in education, we will:

  • Provide catch-up programs to children and youth who have lost out on education
  • Provide vocational training including basic education, life skills and entrepreneurship skills to youth
  • Provide quality training for teachers
  • Establish safe learning spaces for children and youth
  • Encourage girls and females to study, especially young mothers

 

Shelter

Lack of shelter has been identified as one of the main needs in the camps. It is estimated that 50,000 new shelters are needed, but currently the humanitarian community only has funding and construction plans to build 16,000.
In order to address the shelter needs, we will:

  • Construct transitional shelters
  • Provide emergency shelter facilities
  • Construct primary schools and a youth community centre

 

Water, hygiene and sanitation (WASH)

Lack of water is an increasing concern in the camps as more refugees are arriving. So far borehole drilling to assess the possibility of opening a new area for refugees has been unsuccessful.

In crowded camps it is essential that people have proper sanitation facilities and good hygiene practices in order to prevent diseases.

In order to address the needs, we will:

  • Construct latrines
  • Provide basic hygiene items, such as soap
  • Conduct hygiene promotions on good hygiene practices
  • Provide drinking taps and latrines in schools