Improving Livelihood & Safety Among Burundian Refugee Women in Tanzania

Improving Livelihood & Safety among Burundian Refugee Women in Tanzania


Refugee women in Nyarugusu Refugee Camp in Tanzania participate in REFLECT group training.

Since violence erupted in Burundi in early 2015, more than 250,000 men, women and children have fled to neighboring Tanzania. Only a quarter of refugee families have access to cash income, and economic challenges have driven many refugees to sell food rations or turn to harmful coping strategies such as illegal alcohol production.

CWS has been part of the ACT Alliance emergency response in Tanzania since the crisis began in 2015. Most recently, our team launched the REFLECT program to assist refugee women as they develop skills and assets needed to access local market opportunities. One hundred and twenty women participated in the first program cycle, which includes literacy and numeracy classes, vocational training and peer education on nutrition and maternal health.

Opportunities to earn cash through small business activities allow refugee women to more easily purchase firewood and other essential goods from local markets, reducing their exposure to extortion and other threats outside the refugee camp. Our team has seen strong participation by women in numeracy and literacy classes and in vocational training in services where there is high local demand, such as tailoring, driving and computers.

Mushroom farming activities are improving refugee families’ food security and nutrition, as this work allows women to generate income. This is also providing opportunities for environmental conservation through recycling of organic matter, which are used as a growing substrate and then returned to the land as fertilizer. Mushroom farming has helped reduce vulnerability to poverty and strengthen refugees’ livelihoods through the generation of a fast yielding and nutritious source of food and a reliable source of income. Women participating in REFLECT activities have received training and mentorship to manage mushroom farming sustainably, and these trainings are expected to create sustainable development within the surrounding communities.