Management of refugees and socio-economic development in Kigoma region northwestern Tanzania
The study examines the impact of the presence of refugees on the socioeconomic development in the host communities in Kigoma region, Northwestern Tanzania. The study was motivated by the increased visible conflicts between the host population and refugees in Kigoma region regarding whether they are an asset or burden to the socioeconomic sphere of the state. Consequently, the study was conducted in Kasulu district that hosts the largest refugee camp in the region; hence its population bearing the testimonies of the effects of hosting refugees for a long period in their communities. Specifically, the study sought to examine the effect of the refugees’ influx on social service delivery to the host communities; analyze the economic benefits and losses because of the refugee settlements or camps in host communities; and assess the role of Government and International Organizations/Non-Governmental Organizations intervention in mitigating the effects of refugees in host communities. The cross-sectional research design was observed alongside the mixed methods approach that was applied on a sample of 132 respondents. The study findings draw a conclusion that the local people have benefited by the provision of social services because of the coming of the refugees; the social services sector is the sector which has benefited more from the presence of refugees. The sector, especially the condition of health facilities and the level of services improved with the arrival of the refugees. The health sector received substantial investment which contributed to the construction of several hospitals and clinics that were easily accessible in terms of distance and time by the residents in the community. Moreover, the social economic benefits or losses due to the arrival of refugees in the host communities were mixed. Refugee-related insecurity led locals to evacuate their homes and confiscated valuable property from local communities. On the other hand, the presence of refugees increased marketing and business prospects, as well as financial output. While refugees also supplied inexpensive labor, refugee activities gave locals job chances. The Government of Tanzania and its international relief counterparts have been on the frontline in ensuring the societies affected by the influx of refugees have been rejuvenated and continuously being rehabilitated in terms of resources and infrastructure. The study recommended the need for emergency preparedness in refugee-torn areas in line with appropriate institutional frameworks and laws that will be conducive to maximize the benefits of the refugees so that they can be more of an asset than a burden to the socioeconomic development of the local and state economy in general.