Building peaceful cohesion and economic collaboration through livelihood projects
Submitted by: Seong Ha Eun
Email: [email protected]
Introduction to the project
Tanzania - Kigoma Region
Good Neighbors International (GNI) has implemented a successful livelihood project that brings together peaceful cohesion and economic prosperity to refugees and host communities in three refugee camps in Western Tanzania.
GNI is scaling up the Tanzanian experience in an innovative way to the Emergency Transit Mechanism camp in Niger as well as the new refugee settlements in Assosa, Ethiopia.
Main activities of the Good Practice
The main activities of GNI Refugee Host Community Livelihood Programme can be divided in five sectors: Common Market, Business training, Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET), Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLA).
- Common market activities included: the construction of market infrastructure followed by the organization and the empowerment of a market management committee equally made up of members of the refugee and host community.
- Business training was a key element that was applied to all activities and ranged from basic financial literacy to bookkeeping and business management. The aim was to nurture the entrepreneurial skills of all beneficiaries engaged in livelihood activities in order to facilitate the apprehension of knowledge and access to financial means to be linked directly with income generating activities. Some of the beneficiaries received business starting-kits.
- Technical and vocational education and training programmes were implemented through community based activities, such as soap making, as well as by official Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) center established in collaboration with local authorities. GNI constructed TVET centers in the buffer zones, with experts from both government and local NGOs contributing.
- Village Saving and Loan Associations constitute the backbone of finance in the refugee camps. GNI concentrated in improving the management, transparency and efficiency of existing and newly created VSLAs through business training.
- UNHCR Tanzania
- UNHCR Ethiopia
- UNHCR Niger
- INTERSOS Niger
- ARRO Ethiopia
How challenges were overcome
The most difficult challenge was the absolute lack of income generating opportunities in an encampment setting, as well as the refugee policy changes.
The refugee population is mostly made up of farmers. Even though small kitchen gardens were provided, the limited access to land outside the camp was preventing them from pursuing the most affordable livelihood activity in the region.
In addition, the change in refugee policy (limiting market activities and cash-based schemes while promoting voluntary repatriation) set challenges in implementing livelihood programmes as previously planned.
Results of the Good Practice
Since 2015, the project created new jobs in the common market, increased the purchasing power of refugees, empowered women entrepreneurs, and expanded financial access and income opportunities for both communities.
It focused on strengthening the fundamentals of small households’ economics by providing training on financial literacy, microfinance management and business in parallel with traditional VSLA and TVET activities.
In 2018, Good Neighbors Tanzania provided Technical and Vocational Education and Training backed by business training to 832 households, strengthened entrepreneurial capacity for Village Saving and Loan Associations of 862 households, and created 10 new VSLAs with 285 members.
Beyond the number of beneficiaries of various activities, the most important results of the programmes were as follows:
- Creation and operationalization of one of the largest public markets in Kigoma region: the Nyarugusu common market, managed by an inter-community committee. It became one of the largest markets in the region providing price-competitive goods and jobs as it strongly relied on the market value chain.
- Peaceful cohesion and economic collaboration: as most of the activities, except VSLA, targeted both refugees and host communities, participants gradually overcame negative prejudices while also developing a sense collectivity based on mutual trust and common economic profit. In partnership with Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, Good Neighbors analyzed the social impact of the livelihood activities to the two communities objectively demonstrating their behavioral change toward peaceful cohesion and economic collaboration.
- Empowering women in business creation and financial access: by including management and entrepreneurial skills in VSLA schemes with predominantly female members, the programme empowered women with financial literacy as well as widened their access to finance.