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What aid actors need to know about social cohesion in displacement: a Tanzania case study

Case/country studies

Written by Khoti C. Kamanga, Janemary Ruhundwa, Mwajabu Khalid, Faith Mjalilla, Richard H. Mseke, Caitlin Sturridge, Marcel Leonard Komanya

Image credit:Tim Harcourt-Powell

Policy interest in social cohesion amongst displaced populations is on the rise, but it remains a vague and contested concept. There is little consensus on how to define or measure social cohesion, the conditions that promote it, or the benefits it can bring.

Considering these gaps, Tanzania is a strategic location for studying social cohesion in displacement over time and across locations. It has a rich history of hosting refugees over successive waves and decades, with its approach fluctuating between inclusion and exclusion. Shifting national policy has governed how and where refugees live, and what rights and status they are afforded – with significant repercussions for the nature and quality of social relations between refugees and hosts.

This research focuses on social cohesion between refugees and host communities and within refugee communities themselves, rather than between individuals and the state, or society more broadly. But the Tanzanian context emphasises how profoundly national policy responses and the provision of institutional aid can affect social dynamics between refugees and host communities, as well as within displaced communities.