Displacement and urbanisation: Assessing the levels of vulnerability of the refugee and urban slum populations in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

The majority of the world’s population now live in urban areas, but the inability to plan and manage rapid urban growth in the context of economic and social development constitutes a failure of governance which is increasingly manifest as a humanitarian challenge through large-scale disasters. Assessing the vulnerability of refugee groups attempting to meet their material needs is a major obstacle for humanitarian actors in urban areas – potential beneficiaries are sometimes highly mobile, often inaccessible and strive to remain anonymous, while frequently integrated into existing slums and settlements dispersed across the city. This arrival and long-term settlement of displaced populations in urban areas requires more specific information to be gathered in order to plan accordingly, with a particular emphasis on a better understanding of their level of vulnerability in comparison to the local population and the options available to accessing these populations within an urban context.

This thesis will specifically examine the relationship between forced migration to urban areas and humanitarian intervention in the city of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The concept of asset accumulation will act as the theoretical framework for analysing the levels of vulnerability of both the refugee and urban poor populations. The urban development planning policies and governance structures which prevent refugees in Dar es Salaam from meeting their needs themselves will also be investigated; these include land tenure, security, legality, housing and property issues. By examining the effects urban planning policies have on refugee and urban poor populations, the thesis explores the potential for creating a framework to adequately meet the needs of both groups within an urban setting.

Two case studies will be conducted in two informal settlements in Dar es Salaam city. These case studies will look at the practices adopted by both the refugee population and the urban poor in accessing land, water and sanitation, education and health services and the obstacles that they encounter in their everyday lives. The accumulation of assets of the respective populations will also be assessed in detail. The project will investigate if the accumulation of assets, not just physical but also financial, human social and natural capital, as outlined by Moser (1998), plays a significant role in poverty reduction and the ability to access microfinance and thereby generate economic growth for these populations. The role of the different stakeholders and actors in the delivery of urban housing, employment and services will be explored in detail, along with the existing institutional and governance frameworks in Tanzania.

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