Local connections for local solutions: Lessons learned in Tanzania (TRAFIG practice note 8).

Release date: 2021-11

Dar es Salaam is Tanzania’s largest city with a population of around 6.7 million people. Amongst them are approximately ten thousand vulnerable migrants who find themselves in refugee-like situations. Most of these vulnerable migrants are forced to live ‘underground’ because they do not have a government-issued permit to live outside of refugee camps. They nevertheless take their chances to build a productive life in the city, even if they must live covertly.

In these situations, local connections are crucial: Without local connections and/or legal status, these urban refugees have to hide their identity in the city and risk living their lives in a perpetual state of marginalisation, displacement and not belonging.

As this practice note shows, local connections of vulnerable migrants in Dar es Salaam often rely on:

  • Personal connections to “Good Samaritans”, i.e. Tanzanians who support people in refugee-like situations and facilitate access to public services.
  • Connections to local Tanzanian and faith-based organisations that help to keep people in refugee-like situations afloat.

For vulnerable migrants living in the city, their lack of a legal status affects:

  • Their ability to move freely and connect with public services and organisations offering support.
  • Their ability to regularise their undocumented status because they cannot meet certain conditions resulting from their undocumented status. A vicious cycle ensues.

You can download the practice note here.