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by: Barry Stein

"Refugee problems demand durable solutions" is the opening statement of the Principles for Action in Developing Countries, adopted by the Executive Committee of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in October 1984. Without a durable solution--integration into a community by means of voluntary repatriation, settlement or resettlement--refugees cannot fully establish themselves in a new life as contributing members of their new community. For the past thirty years UNHCR has established planned rural settlements for refugees in Africa as one method of pursuing durable solutions. This effort has not been very successful. Most refugee settlements are unable to achieve or sustain economic self-sufficiency and many refugees are not integrated into their host countries. These failures, particularly the inability to achieve durable solutions for refugees, have contributed to an financial crisis enveloping UNHCR and to a political crisis in Central Africa.

This paper is an updated report of a 1985 study of older refugee settlements in Africa conducted by the Refugee Policy Group through a grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development. The objectives of the study were to investigate:

  1. The factors and policies which can contribute to, or hinder, the attainment of self-sufficiency by organized refugee settlements; and,

  2. The experience of such settlements after achieving self-sufficiency, particularly in terms of their ability to reach a durable solution. Ideally, such a durable solution would include sustained economic self-sufficiency as well as political and social integration into the host country.

The research indicates that for thirty years there have been and are major difficulties in designing settlements, implementing the assistance program, and in attaining self-sufficiency. In part this troubled record is due to the sheer difficultly of creating a new community amidst volatile refugee movements. However, of more importance are political factors involving the host country's view of refugee settlements which impede the achievement of self- sufficiency, make it difficult to maintain if it is achieved, and which prevent the refugees "political and social integration into the host country."

Table I


      21   were closed due to repatriation (with 7 being declared
           self-sufficient before being closed)

      11   were abandoned

      30   were declared self-sufficient (but 21 received renewed

      55   were not declared self-sufficient by 1982
     117   Total number of settlements established of which
           85 were still operating.

The starting point for this analysis was a 1982 UNHCR report "Phasing Out UNHCR Programmes for Local Settlement" (Heidler, 1982) and its accompanying table "UNHCR-Assisted Rural Settlements - Situation at the Beginning of 1982." The table lists 107 settlements in Africa. We have corrected the list by adding nine abandoned and two operating settlements and by subtracting one settlement, which was planned and listed but never established, bringing the total number to 117 settlements.1 In order to be able to deal with a stable sample we have not attempted to study any settlements that were established after 1982.2 At times we mention these additional settlements but they are excluded from the primary analysis.

This study focuses on the organized settlements as they have been the main recipients of international aid provided for refugee settlements. There are two main types of settlements for refugees, organized or planned settlement schemes and spontaneous settlement or self-settlement. As the term suggests, spontaneous settlements3 are unplanned, and they are also largely unassisted. The proportions for each type cannot be exactly known, but a rough estimate would be that half of all African refugees are self-settled (a minority of them in urban areas), that about one-quarter live in organized settlements, and that the remaining one-quarter are in relief or post-relief refugee camps where they are dependent on food rations and other international assistance. (Camps are distinguished from settlements in that there is little or no prospect or attempt for the refugees to achieve self- sufficiency.)

Of the 117 settlements in Table I, the primary focus is on the 30 organized refugee settlements that "were declared self- sufficient (but 21 received renewed aid)" by UNHCR between 1966 and 1982, and which are still in operation. See Table IV for a listing. A secondary focus, also from Table I, is 20 of the 55 settlements listed as "were not declared self-sufficient by 1982." These 20 settlements are listed in Table VI.

The selection of only 20 of the 55 "not declared self- sufficient by 1982" settlements was accomplished by excluding 35 refugee settlements in the Sudan--15 in the east for Ethiopian refugees and 20 in the south for Ugandans. When the decision was made, in 1985, to exclude the Sudanese settlements, we relied on three factors. First, the refugee situation was unstable with massive influxes into both eastern and southern Sudan. (By 1985 the number of settlements had already increased to 71 with 47 in the south and 24 in the east.) Second, the Sudan was experiencing major crises involving the overthrow of the Nimeri Government, the beginning of the civil war, and drought and famine. Lastly, it was felt that the eastern settlements had bleak prospects for self- sufficiency because the Sudanese government was choosing settlement sites against the recommendations of international survey missions.4 Between 1985 and 1990 the political crises and refugee flows in the Sudan have grown worse. All 47 settlements in the southern Sudan were closed in 1988-1989 when the refugees repatriated to Uganda. Although there had been welcome political changes in Uganda the return was spurred by the dismal security situation in the south including attacks on almost all of the settlements. In the eastern Sudan, none of the settlements has achieved self-sufficiency and the climate of acceptance for refugees has deteriorated (Refugee Policy Group, 1989a).

With regard to the 50 settlements that constitute our primary and secondary concern (see Table III and Tables IV and VI), in 1982 they included 30 settlements considered self-sufficient--including two in the Sudan, and 20 settlements still dependent on international assistance. In 1990 we find 32 settlements considered self-sufficient, but with 24 of them receiving renewed aid; 3 settlements that may be self-sufficient; 6 are self-reliant

Table II


      47   were closed due to repatriation (with
           approximately 27 considered self-sufficient [7] or
           food self-sufficient [20] before being closed)

      11   were abandoned

      32   were declared self-sufficient (but 24 received renewed

      27   were not declared self-sufficient
     117   Total number of settlements established of which
           59 are still operating.

Table III

           Settlement Self-Sufficiency in the
              Sudan and the Rest of Africa in 1982

Rest of Sudan Africa Total Not self-sufficient 35 20 55 Self-sufficient but 1 20 21 aid renewed Self-sufficient 1 8 9 ---- ---- ---- Number of settlements 37 48 85

and experiencing significant voluntary repatriation; 3 more are doing well but are still receiving large numbers of refugees; and, six have closed due to voluntary repatriation. Thus of the 50 settlements only 44 are still operating and at least 33 are either dependent or receiving renewed aid. Furthermore, with regard to the original 117 settlements, only 59 are still operating and only 11 of them do not require international aid. (See Table II.)

           Problems in Defining Self-Sufficiency
      Throughout the paper there is an artificial and arbitrary


Host Name of Year arrive/ Number & Country Settlement self-sufficient Origin

Burundi Muramba 1962-1969 9,800 Rwanda
Burundi Kayongazi 1962-1969 5,300 Rwanda
Burundi Kigamba 1963-1969 11,727 Rwanda
Burundi Mugera 1963-1969 18,692 Rwanda

Comments: Report of 1982 assessment team finds the four settlements not fully viable; allocates $773,000 for food production & marketing vocational training, school repairs, water pipes. $2.5m for area hospital. 1987 report level comparable to local population.

Tanzania Karagwe 1962-1966 2,500 Rwanda
Tanzania Muyenzi 1962-1969 5,000 Rwanda
Tanzania Mwezi 1964-1971 3,000 Rwanda

1987 report of 1,200 moved to new settlement named Burigi, due to disturbances. Some may have been involved in 1990 Banyarwanda refugee invasion of Rwanda from Uganda. Citizenship discussed 1985, not granted.

Uganda Oruchinga 1961-1974 4,750 Rwanda
Uganda Nakivale 1962-1974 8,405 Rwanda
Uganda Kahunge 1963-1974 9,220 Rwanda
Uganda Ibuga 1964-1974 2,350 Rw & Sudan
Uganda Rwanwanja 1964-1974 2,820 Rwanda
Uganda Kyaka I 1964-1974 2,230 Rwanda
Uganda Kyangwali 1966-1974 9,465 Rwanda

74,379 in eight settlements [including Kyaka II] in 1989. Major repairs due to 1979 Tanzanian invasion; 1982 attack by locals on settlements; 1985 fighting to overthrow Obote. Refugees support winner - NRA. 1986 discussions to grant citizenship produce no results. Property rights restricted. Reported "for most part better off than nationals." October 1990 refugees in ugandan Army desert and invade Burundi. Refugee numbers at left are 1971 figures from Holborn (1975).

Zaire Ihula 1961-1970 3,000 Rwanda
Zaire Bibwe 1962-1970 1,190 Rwanda
Zaire Kalonge 1962-1967 700 Rwanda

14 years of no aid & Kalonge listed as abandoned. Minor aid requests for $264,000 for schools and dispensaries not provided before. No evidence of funding or implementation.

Rwanda Mutara 1974-1977 10,000 Burundi

$300,000 for 1984 to repair water system, build more schools, equip health center. Overpopulation, no land. Income-generation aid for young refugees. Largely self-sufficient but Gov't & refugees can't maintain established infrastructure.

Tanzania Ulyankulu 1972-1980 26,000 Burundi
Tanzania Katumba 1973-1978 74,000 Burundi

$27m ICARA II: (includes Mishamo) for primary cooperatives, ag. train & research, roads, health, water, & education. Additional $9m from UNHCR. ICARA II cites serious jeopardy to viability. 1988 study finds serious problems in land use and overcrowding. Neumann (1985) critical of TCRS "highstandard construction," absence of technical expertise. Continuing refugee dependency, lack of participation or self-reliance. Settlement wide gap over locals. Aug. 1990 exile attack on Burundi.

Zaire Mutambala 1976-1979 1,700 Burundi

Only ed. scholarships since 1980. Rumored closed by Zaire due to exile activity v. Burundi.

Sudan Qala en Nahal 1969-1975 34,000 Ethiopia

Failed after handover in 1977, complex water and tractor probs. Marginal w. NGO aid. Villages near food self-sufficiency. Plots too small for longterm fertility and pop. growth.

Djibouti Mouloud 1979-1980 90 Ethiopia

Includes some locals. Extremely high p.c. cost - $1,345 - due to poor soils, harsh climate, persistent drought.

Botswana Etscha 1968-1975 1,800 Angola

All refugees are believed to be citizens.

Zambia Mayukwayukwa 1967-1973 2,200 Angola

1988 construction of new community dev. facilities.

Zambia Meheba 1970-1982 22,000 Angola

ICARA II request for $3m for schools, health center, fish ponds. 10-12,000 refugees move from border area 1988-90 requiring major construction.

Zaire Cataractes 1976-1981 c.100,000 Angola

Very odd case, really assisted self-settlement. Food sufficiency since 1981. ICARA II - $4m rebuild roads, $2m community dev., $2.9m dispensaries. Some on-going aid;long-term refugees are self-sufficient

Zaire Kanyama 1971-1972 750 Zambia

Lumpa sect. No aid reported.

Tanzania Pangale 1966-1971 700 Zaire

Minor ICARA II aid request.

Sudan Rajaf 1970-1977 5,000 Zaire No renewed aid. 1989: possible repat due to security sit. in S. Sudan distinction between self-sufficient and dependent settlements. If at anytime a settlement has been listed or regarded as self-sufficient by UNHCR then it is in the self-sufficient category. For some settlements, e.g. Qala en Nahal in the Sudan, the period of self-sufficiency was either extremely brief or even mistakenly judged. Similarly if a settlement has not been listed as self-sufficient by UNHCR then we continue to treat it as a dependent (on international aid) settlement. Although some settlements may have been mistakenly listed as self-sufficient, most of those interviewed in the course of the study felt that UNHCR tended to be rather late in declaring self-sufficiency, thus underestimating the number of such settlements. Lastly, if a self-sufficient settlement receives any renewed aid, it is listed as requiring renewed aid.

In this study we offer no independent definition of self-sufficiency. We have taken an expedient and practical approach, accepting the definitions of others, primarily UNHCR. If a settlement has been declared self-sufficient we do not question that judgement. As our study covers thirty years of settlement history in a dozen countries we recognize that self-sufficiency in different times and settings may not be comparable.

A practical approach to defining self-sufficiency, one that highlights the relationship between individual economic self- support and the broader self-sufficiency needs of a settlement, comes from the Sudan:

  1. Dura [food] Self-Sufficiency - An average refugee family can produce a sufficient quantity of dura [basic foodstuffs] off their allocated land to pay for all cost of production and yet have enough left for the family's annual consumption.

  2. Family Self-Reliance - Dura self-sufficiency and enough income from other sources to cover the cost for the minimum household requirements (e.g. clothing and bedding, fuel, household utensils, grinding charges).

  3. Settlement Self-Reliance -- Family self-reliance plus an overall income surplus is generated which can cover the operating cost for the minimum settlement infrastructure requirements in administration and support services, water supply, education, health care and sanitation. (Cree, 1983)

Clearly the target indicators for having reached self-sufficiency will vary from one place to another. Nonetheless, a definition of settlement self-sufficiency can be seen as including reaching the economic level and general standard of living of the local community and being integrated into the economic life of the area on a sustainable basis. In addition, a settlement should be able to produce sufficient government revenues to allow the government to operate its standard set of services for the residents of the settlement (e.g. health facilities) and to maintain the settlement's infrastructure at a level consistent with those elsewhere in the country. A settlement that routinely required international assistance, or that was experiencing a situation which required external assistance in large amounts, could not be considered self-sufficient.


The ideal view of a refugee settlement, particularly from UNHCR's point of view, consists of two main phases, (a) the land settlement phase to assist refugees settle on the land and become self-supporting, and, (b) the consolidation and integration phase to complete development of settlement infrastructure, promote a sense of community, and to integrate the settlement into the larger social, political and economic life of the host country.

In the land settlement stage a site is selected and prepared, refugees move in and work on their own individual sites and the settlement infrastructure, seeds and tools are provided, as well as food rations until the refugees achieve food self-sufficiency. The expectation is that rations will be needed for 2 to 5 years, but some refugee settlements never end their need for food aid.

The land settlement phase is more than just land, seeds and a hoe. It is the creating of a new rural agricultural community and involves issues of community development, relations with neighbors, levels of service and assistance, problems of administration, legal rights, and self-help.

The consolidation part of the second phase is largely internal and refer to achieving settlement self-reliance and a sense of community. The integration aspect is largely external and involves the settlements relationship to the local population, markets and towns, and to various levels of government from local to national.

No settlement really stands alone. It must depend on local government for many of its services and for upkeep of its infrastructure. To thrive it must also be part of the larger local economy through participation in markets, providing goods and services, and paying taxes and fees.

Integration is directly related to achieving a durable solution. UNHCR seeks to phase out international assistance to refugee settlements and to handover responsibility to the host government. In an ideal case, integration will include citizenship for the refugees (Gasarasi, 1990). "Refugees are aliens, they are 'guests,' they are not voting citizens, and they have little or no political leverage" (Coat, 1978).

The ideal of settlement handover and a phase out of international assistance has not been realized in most instances. The term "handover" is misleading by implying a completeness and formality to the transition which is usually not the case. Only 11 of the 32 self-sufficient settlements have been formally handed over to the host government. For most settlements, "handover" is informal and piecemeal; as each input is completed international assistance is phased out. However, either way, 24 of the 32 settlements received renewed assistance after handover. A more accurate term for self-sufficient settlements would be "handover without phase out."

                         HOST HESITANCY

Many low income host countries, for good reasons, are not prepared to offer durable solutions to integrate refugees into their societies. Choosing to integrate refugees is a far more complex, vital and difficult decision than simply weighing the costs and burdens placed on the international community. Host hesitancy toward integration derives from many factors, including:

      --political support for the refugees' cause--particularly
      independence, secession, or autonomy--which would be
      weakened by a solution other than repatriation;
      --the size of the refugee group, which in absolute or
      relative terms may be too large for the host to absorb;
      --concern that integration would produce a pull factor and
      encourage more refugees to flee to the host; and
      --concerns that the refugees' ethnic, cultural, social, or
      political background might make them unacceptable to
      segments of the population. (Stein, 1987)

Furthermore there are economic factors that complicate the problem. The number of low-income countries has increased from 34 to 42 in just six years. Faced with a lack of development, a debt crisis, and rapidly growing populations whose needs they cannot serve, host countries are in no position to add to their burdens. They worry about being accused of favoring refugees over needy nationals. Refugees can compete economically with nationals. And, it is unreasonable to ask low-income countries to make a financial contribution--either by sharing development assistance from their own scarce resources or by going deeper into debt--for the sake of refugees. Many hosts are twice-shy about integrating refugees because of past experiences with international integration assistance which established services and infrastructure but did not cover the long-term recurrent costs of maintaining refugees.

There has been no agreement between hosts and donors on the issue of additionality. Additionality refers to the request by the low-income host countries that refugee assistance of all types should be over and above--additional to--the normal development assistance they would receive if there were no refugee problem. Donors, however, offer only partial additionality. They indicate that if refugees are incorporated into development projects, such as settlement schemes, they will become potential contributors to their host's development. Therefore a share of the development assistance should also apply to the refugee areas. The hosts do not feel they can afford durable solutions that require them to share scarce development funds or to borrow for aliens.

Lastly, many hosts have solid development reasons for not integrating refugees. Refugees are often concentrated in peripheral areas of the host. Refugee settlements may be the wrong project in the wrong place with the wrong needs, thus skewing the national development plan.


Host hesitancy towards integration of settlement refugees springs from an unresolved dispute regarding responsibility for refugees that divides low-income host countries from UNHCR and the rich donor countries. With rare exceptions--Botswana, Tanzania, Burundi--host countries have not viewed integration as the goal of settlement. They have long and consistently maintained that settlement is temporary and the refugees will eventually repatriate. UNHCR and the donor countries, on the other hand, consistently think in terms of durable solutions, refugee integration into the host country, and the termination of international assistance.

In part, both parties are denying responsibility for caring for the victims. Asylum countries, which bear a tremendous involuntary burden, see themselves as humanitarian hosts to unwanted guests. They want international burden-sharing to ease their load and to compensate them for the great strain placed on their social, physical and economic infrastructures.

Donors accept the idea of burden sharing but not as compensation. They will fund burden sharing as a means to a durable solution. Donors are concerned that burden sharing without an emphasis on durable solutions will lead to open-ended, costly refugee situations. With international burden sharing, host governments might have a reduced sense of responsibility for refugees, actually impeding efforts to find durable solutions.

In 1984 UNHCR's Executive Committee avoided this issue of responsibility when it adopted the Principles for Action in Developing Countries. Although beginning "Refugee problems demand durable solutions" the Principles go on to indicate that voluntary repatriation is the "best option." The Principles continue: "where voluntary return is not immediately feasible, conditions should be created in the country of asylum for temporary settlement" which does "not necessarily imply a commitment to one or another long-term solution."

The practical result is that consolidation and integration of settlements, a handover of responsibility, a phase out of international assistance, the granting of citizenship, and the achievement of a durable solution, would be a voluntary action by the host countries and would go against their long-term announced intention that settlements be temporary.


The UNHCR and donor concern that burden sharing without a durable solution might be expensive has proved to be true. Settlement costs for 1988 (actual--$132 million of $338 million), 1989 (estimated--$160 million of $360 million) and 1990 (estimated--$121 million of $323 million) range from 37 percent to 44 percent of the total UNHCR General Program budget (UNHCR, 1989b). Despite these high costs the settlement program is not very successful. As Tables VI and VII indicate, at best only 15 to 20 percent of the settlements, mostly small ones, achieve lasting self-sufficiency. Temporary settlements are likely to be permanent recipients of international aid.

      However, a critical consideration in the hand-over
      process is the ... capacity of the local government
      institutions to fully integrate settlements into their
      ongoing programmes.  Due to limited resources, the
      inability of local institutions to cope with recurrent
      operation and maintenance costs, a general lack of self-
      reliance on the part of refugees and the additional needs
      required as a result of population growth, further input
      of resources by the international community has often been
      necessary after a hand-over has taken place. (UNHCR, 1989b)


Refugee rural settlements first appear as a form of UNHCR assistance in the early 1960s. They developed as a response to large flows of African refugees fleeing from independence and nation-building struggles. "At the end of 1964 UNHCR was faced with a new situation in Africa, characterized by a large influx of rural refugees estimated at about 400,000" (Diegues, 1981). From 1961 to 1982, UNHCR opened 117 refugee settlements in Africa reportedly assisting some 940,000 refugees (Heidler, 1982).

The earliest settlements were for approximately 140,000 Rwandese who fled to Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zaire and who had little prospect of returning home. The first settlement was Bibwe in Kivu, Zaire opened in October 1961. By 1966 there were 24 Rwandese settlements--nine in Zaire, four in Burundi, three in Tanzania, and eight in Uganda--of which seven were abandoned and seventeen achieved self-sufficiency and are still in existence.

Contemporaneous refugee flows from Zaire, Angola, Portuguese Guinea (now Guinea-Bissau), Sudan, and Mozambique led to the establishment of approximately a dozen rural settlements in Uganda, Central African Republic, Senegal, Tanzania, Zaire, and Zambia by the mid-sixties. The early refugee settlements had many difficulties getting established and thereby served as the learning ground, often through trial and error, for the inexperienced assisting agencies. Besides the abandonment of seven of the twenty-four Rwandese settlements, three additional settlements--Bambouti for Sudanese in the Central African Republic, Mao for Angolans in Zaire, and Koboko for Sudanese in Uganda--were abandoned5 and four other settlements (for Sudanese and Zairians in Uganda) were considered "not viable" (Heidler, 1982) before they were closed by the repatriation of the refugees. (See Table V.) However, other settlements, primarily in Tanzania, Senegal, and Zambia, did well.

Being the majority, the Rwandese settlements were the main learning ground for UNHCR, the Food and Agriculture Organization, and the other international organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGO). In the settlement of the Rwandese refugees UNHCR played a more limited role than it does today. At the beginning of the exodus in 1959, and for several years afterward, UNHCR had no branch offices in sub-Sahara Africa. It played a minor or non-existent role in much of the relief phase of assistance. In many cases settlements began without UNHCR involvement and the agency was only invited into the settlements after the host country's resources were strained or other difficulties emerged. Initially, UNHCR knew little of rural African life and the requirements for a successful settlement and did not take a strong stand on site selection, farming techniques and economic viability, and the size and function of the settlements. Neither UNHCR nor the hosts were insistent, or consistent, about appropriate levels of aid, and, with few exceptions, most of the settlements received minimal infrastructures in the form of schools, medical facilities, and other community facilities. Further, UNHCR's active involvement with most of the settlements appeared to end soon after subsistence or food self-sufficiency was achieved, or as soon as the host government was willing to assume responsibility.

The Rwandese Tutsi (Banyarwanda) refugees were a difficult first settlement experience for UNHCR. As an exiled elite they are often described as being acutely aware of the rights and privileges due them. Their sense of superiority frightened and alienated many of their new neighbors, and their negative attitude towards settlement delayed their progress toward self-sufficiency. Many were pastoralists who rejected cultivation, and as militant exiles hoping to retake their homes and power, they rejected the permanence of settlement. The refugees' view of their exile as temporary was often shared by the host governments, who, expecting repatriation, gave little thought to site selection (often settlements were in the border area and represented a regrouping of large refugee influxes that had settled spontaneously in the border zone) and saw no reason to invest heavily in infrastructure for temporarily resident aliens. Lastly, the militant and violent activities of many of the Tutsi through the Inyenzi guerrillas involved them in dangerous forays into the internal politics of three of their host countries (Holborn, 1975; Gasarasi, 1990).

Part of the legacy of the Rwandese Tutsi can be seen in today's UNHCR and Organization of African Unity (OAU) policies concerning moving refugees away from the border, limiting refugee political activities, and viewing the granting of asylum as a non-hostile action. The legacy shows also in UNHCR's concern about promoting friendly relations with local inhabitants6 and giving due attention to the economic viability of settlements. From this experience, policies emerged on the need to provide infrastructure early in a settlement's life--to indicate permanence and to encourage those refugees who value education and other services to remain at the settlement rather than to settle spontaneously; and, on the administrative pattern for settlements--preferring to work with agencies, usually NGOs, that were able to remain with a settlement project through to its completion rather than only working on the relief stage or settlement stage.

       Abandoned Settlements or Major Population Declines

Although almost all of the early (1979 or earlier) settlements were eventually declared self-sufficient, it is well to recall the troubles they experienced along the way. Most of the 32 self-sufficient settlements experienced major difficulties and sharp population declines before stabilizing. Further, another eleven settlements were so troubled that they were abandoned and four others were deemed "not viable" before they were closed due to voluntary repatriation (see Table V).

In Burundi, the settlements of Muramba, Kayongazi, Kigamba, and Mugera all experienced large out-migrations in their early years. In fact, some of the settlements lost as much as 90 percent of their settlers due to poor soils, a desire to be reunited with family members located in other asylum countries, resistance to becoming farmers, and a lack of opportunity for refugees from urban areas (Van der Meeren, c.1969).

In Tanzania, Muyenzi declined from 10,000 to 5,000 refugees as settlers fled authoritarian officials (Gasarasi, 1984; Holborn, 1975) and reunited with scattered family members. In the late 1970s, Ulyankulu had its population more than halved as a preventive measure (Betts, 1981) to accommodate inadequate soil and water resources.

In Uganda, several settlements had major difficulties, and one was abandoned. In 1965, Kinyara failed and Ibuga had its Rwandese refugee population leave (although they were replaced by Sudanese refugees) because of a lack of water and community facilities. Oruchinga in 1964 had 12,000 refugees but land for only 5,000, and Nakivale peaked at about 30,000 before stabilizing at less then 20,000 settlers. Both settlements were overcrowded because they were near the border and authorities kept sending newly arrived refugees to them. Eventually their excess populations were transferred to new settlements in the north. Nakapiripirit, Onigo, Acholpi, and Agago for Sudanese and Zairian refugees were deemed "not viable" before they closed due to voluntary repatriation.

In Zaire, six settlements--Kakobo, Mamba, Rambo, Lemera, Mulenge, and Tshaminunu--were abandoned in the mid 1960s when they became involved with the Congo rebellions and the host government ordered that they be closed. Another settlement, Kalonge, was initially thought to have been abandoned for the same reason but survived at about one-third of its former size. Two other settlements, Bibwe and Ihula, were attacked by local residents but survived. However, their combined population declined from 13,000 to 5,000 refugees. Lastly, Kanyama was planned for 10,000 Lumpa refugees but only received 750 as most decided at the last minute to repatriate to Zambia. In the Sudan, Qala en Nahal virtualy failed immediately.

Table V:


  1. KINYARA in Uganda for 4,000 Rwandese refugees open 64 closed 69, refugees resettled from Zaire, low morale, high mortality

  2. LWATEMBO in Zambia for Angolans 66-71, no soil survey

  3. KAKOBO }
  4. MAMBA } in Zaire for Rwandese refugees closed mid-60s
  5. RAMBO } after the refugees got involved
  6. TSHAMINUNU} in the Congo rebellion and the
  7. LEMERA } Gov't closed the settlements
  8. MULENGE }

  9. BAMBOUTI in Central African Republic for 27,000 Sudanese 1962-67

    Originally refugees self-settled, then regrouped by UNHCR. Settlement had good prospects but was too close to border. 1967 raid by Sudan killed six refugee chiefs. Refugees transferred to M'Boki 125 miles from border.

  10. MAO in Zaire for 5,500 Angolans 1962-63. Refugees had settled successfully on land given them by locals and thus rejected move to planned site.

  11. KOBOKO 12,000 Sudanese in Uganda 1962-1966-67. Closed because too close to border, involved in violence, and overcrowded. At first refugees had self-settled SETTLEMENTS DEEMED NOT VIABLE BUT CLOSED DUE TO REPATRIATION after handover due to overly complex and highly capitalized designs for provision of water and of tractor services which did not have the support of the local government (Rogge, 1985).

    1. Nakapiripirit for 9,000 Sudanese in Uganda; poor soil, lack of rain because on wrong side of mountain, and overcrowded beyond planned capacity of 3,000.

    2. Onigo for 2,500 Sudanese in Uganda; peaked at 5,050, set up in 1965, deemed not viable in 1971 due to water problems, drought, and insufficient agricultural inputs. Repatriation in 1972.

    3. Acholpi for Sudanese in Uganda; 1964 to repatriation in 1972. Merged in 1969 with Agago [# 4 below]. Not viable in overcrowded condition in 1971.

    4. Agago for Sudanese and Zairians in Uganda; 1966-72. Same fate as Acholpi [#3 above].

    (Sources: Holborn, 1975; Heidler, 1982.)

    Lastly, in Zambia, two settlements, Lwatembo and Mayukwayukwa, were begun without soil surveys. Lwatembo eventually was abandoned, and Mayukwayukwa proved viable only after two-thirds of its population was transferred to Meheba. Key Obstacles to Attaining Self-Sufficiency

    The history of the older refugee settlements in Africa indicates a number of factors which can be major obstacles to the attainment of self-sufficiency by a refugee settlement. While the following discussion is based primarily on the experience of the older settlements, written and interview information on more recent settlements indicates that these points have considerable validity for newer settlements as well.

    1. Site Selection

      Proper site selection is critical for attaining self-sufficiency. The three chief characteristics of a suitable settlement site are good soils, adequate rainfall (or a source of irrigation water), and sufficient drinking water. These are the primary and permanent factors that determine self-sufficiency. All other factors--such as plot size, overcrowding, refugee attitudes, etc.--are secondary. The key attribute of the secondary factors is that they can be changed, improved or overcome if they are a hinderance. Problems with permanent factors can be overcome, if at all, only at prohibitive expense. If good soil, rainfall, and drinking water are available only in limited amounts, then these limits will determine the viable TABLE VI: SETTLEMENTS NOT SELF-SUFFICIENT IN 1982 (other than Sudan)

    Host Name of Year arrive Number &
    Country Settlement Origin

    Angola Cassege 1978 1,050 Zaire
    Angola Dongue 1979 1,200 Zaire
    Angola Sta Eulalia 1981 2,850 Zaire
    Angola Cacanda 1981 300 Zaire
    Angola Kitola 1981 1,760 Zaire
    Angola Maua 1981 210 Zaire

    1985: security problems led to abandon all but Mawa. 1986: 13,000 down to 9,654 in 1990. Access very difficult. Minor aid, mostly self-reliance. Cassege doing well; others at food self-sufficiency. On-going repatriation program slowed by UNHCR financial crisis. Most refugees likely to voluntarily repatriate. 3,972 repat so far.

    Botswana Dukwe II 1980 469 varied

    Progress hampered by 6 year drought & major fluctuations; peak 4,559 in 1987. Zimbabweans repat. Namibia repat. 1990: 204 Angolans, 190 S. Af. In 1989, 200 Zimbabweans accepted for naturalization.

    Burundi Bukemba 1974 5,330 Rwanda

    Selfsufficient at same level as other Rwandese settlemts

    Swaziland Ndzevane 1980 6,500 S. Africa

    Handover expected in 1984 still not realized due to influx of 7,000 Mozambique MzB after 1986. Overcrowded. Inadequate managerial skills. Suitable site for new sett identified but not allocated by gov't. 1990: major reorg increased eco self-suff of S. Af. & reduced their dependence on HCR

    Tanzania Kigwa 1980 244 varied

    Rural settlement and transit center for urban Rs. Still getting transfers and aid in 87-88. Land and ag supplies. Health & ed infrastructure

    Tanzania Mishamo 1978 30,000 Burundi

    Selfsufficient & handed over in 1985. Still recieving major aid. Neumann (1985) criticizes TCRS's high standard construction, failure to end dependency or promote participation or training. Settlement level higher than locals.

    Zaire Kimbianga 1977 8,400 Angola
    Zaire Lundu-Matende 1977 10,000
    Zaire Mfuki 1978 8,600 Angola

    Population estimate varys 40,000 in 1978 to 12,000 in 1984 for the three settlements. Unclear; may be self-sufficient since 84; at level of local population but need maintenance aid. Income-gen and coop aid planned in 86, minor ed ass't in 88. May be some VR to Cabinda in 89.

    Zaire Adobia 1980 45,000 Uganda
    Zaire Popo 1980 Uganda
    Zaire Biringi 1981 Uganda
    Zaire Lanza 1981 Uganda
    Zaire Irumu 1981 Uganda
    45,000 in six settlements in 1982. Lack arable land, overcrowded w. new arrivals. Rapidly declining pop in mid-80s due to spontaneous repat. 17,000 by 1985. Organized repat leads to colosing of settlements in by 1985. Organized repat leads to closing of settlements in 88-89.

    Population capacity of the settlement.

    Although the choice of a settlement site rests with the host government, it is exceptionally important that UNHCR and the international donors take an active interest in the decision (Drucker, 1987). The long-term consequences of a poor site choice, such as in the Sudan (see p. 4 above), can be extremely expensive in monetary terms and in the labor, energy, and hopes invested in trying to make a poor site workable.

    As the overwhelming majority of refugee settlements in Africa are based on cultivation--several Sudanese settlements are based on refugees earning wages in nearby towns or as agricultural workers (Rogge, 1985; Kibreab 1990); soil quality is of paramount importance. Marginal soils are especially susceptible to rapid deterioration, so that food harvests of the early years often cannot be maintained without measures to ensure fertility. It may also be necessary to allow for variations in plot sizes to take into account individual variations in the quality of soils on different plots. Into the 1980s many settlements, even major ones, were undertaken without adequate soil surveys. In some, cursory surveys were made that did not uncover all of the important local variation which existed. In others, the expansion of a settlement led into unsurveyed areas.

    Although irrigation is an alternative to rain in dry areas. The complexities and difficulties of irrigated farming are well-known and few, if any, settlements based on irrigation are likely to meet their operating costs and maintenance requirements without continuous outside assistance.

    Drinking water is likely to be the most immediate problem in a new settlement and it must be continuously available for a settlement to function. Treatment of water or pumping from deep wells can be expensive and the recurring costs may require repeated external assistance. Problems with the repair and maintenance of water systems have been a frequent cause of renewed aid to settlements after hand over. The availability of drinking water has limited the size of several settlements, and access to water has repeatedly been a point of conflict between refugees and local residents, but only Qala en Nahal appears to have had its viability threatened by a lack of drinking water.

    b. Political Difficulties

    While African nations have often been generous in providing asylum to refugees, the record of the older settlements shows numerous cases of severe difficulties caused by political involvements. Many refugee settlements, particularly the Rwandese, got embroiled in the ethnic politics of their host country with severe consequences if they backed the wrong side. Other settlements located close to the border have supported guerrilla activities7 or been the targets of cross-border attacks and diplomatic pressures on their host. Involvement in local or international politics was the major cause for the abandonment of eight settlements in Zaire, Uganda, and the Central African Republic, and five settlements in Angola were vacated in 1985 due to their host's security situation (see Table V). Forty-seven Ugandan settlements in southern Sudan closed after being attacked. See footnote 6 regarding Rwandese refugees in Uganda. Mutambala in Zaire is rumored closed due to exile political activity. "In May, Tanzania deported some 5,000 Burundian Hutu refugees.... Burundian exiles attacked their home country from Tanzania last August" (Africa Confidential, 1990b).

    c. Refugee Attitudes

    Many settlements in their early years experienced refugee resistance to any activities which might imply that they were putting down roots in the new land, rather than planning to return home. This was especially pronounced in the case of Rwandese Tutsi's, many of whom continue to seek to forcibly regain control of Rwanda. "Rwandese refugees' early attitude ... opposed anything that even remotely suggested possible permanency" (Gasarasi, 1990). The Rwandese refugees also experienced difficulties in changing from being primarily pastoralist to becoming farmers, which many viewed as a lower status occupation.

    Refugee resistance to putting down roots is often matched by the host country's insistence that the refugees will eventually repatriate (Kibreab, 1989; Gasarasi, 1990). Very few settlement refugees have been granted citizenship by their host. As a result, refugee status passes to new generations.

    d. Overcrowding

    Once a settlement has opened there is a great temptation to continue to send newly arrived refugees (or spontaneously settled refugees who have been rounded up by the host government) to the site. Ndzevane in Swaziland and Meheba in Zambia recently doubled in size to accommodate new arrivals. The plan may be to expand the settlement, or to use it as a transit center or holding camp, while planning an additional settlement or hoping for repatriation. The government is often reluctant to accept the need for additional settlements, feels constrained by lack of staff resources, or is disinclined to go through the search and negotiations required to provide another settlement site.

    Overcrowding can be a sign of poor planning, unrealistic beliefs about the settlement's viable size or ability to expand, a failure to think clearly about a site's functions, or a lack of other options. Sharp reductions in size may be needed to bring available resources, which often were not surveyed in advance, into balance with the number of refugees. This process could continue over many years if inadequate provision has been made for maintenance of soil fertility which would lower a settlement's carrying capacity over time. Population declines may be needed to enhance a settlement's ultimate viability.

    e. Agricultural Programs and Policies

    Agriculture is the cornerstone of most refugee settlements. In addition to meeting the food needs of the residents, achieving an adequate agricultural income is vital to the development of refugee livelihood. The sale of crops is a source of cash on which other activities and employment depend. Many of the agriculture-related problems of refugee settlements are connected with larger African problems; Africa is the only continent to suffer declines in per capita agricultural production over the past two decades (World Bank, 1981, 1989; Eicher, 1986).

    The chief problems noted were (a) plot sizes which were too small to allow for more than mere subsistence farming (which would thus eliminate any economic locomotive effect of agriculture in stimulating the total settlement economy) and for necessary conservation measures, and (b) efforts to coerce refugees into communal farming, which produced considerable resistance and minimal crop yields when compared to families farming their own plots.

    f. Other factors

    A number of other factors appeared to cause problems in attaining self-sufficiency, but were either less powerful, or were only noted as critical in a few instances. One was authoritarian administrators who left little room for refugee input or participation. Another was overly complex technologies which could not be sustained without continued outside assistance.

    One of these factors has been the lack of refugee participation in determining the priority needs which assistance programs are to address, and of refugee input into the design and implementation of such programs. This often reflects an attitude by some host government officials that refugees are guests who should not control affairs which occur in the host country. However, even NGOs which advocate refugee participation on paper often fall short of this ideal in practice. "After years of TCRS (Tanganyika Christian Refugee Service) guidance, refugee settlers have not realistically perceived what their responsible role should be in the post-handover phase" (Neumann, 1985).

                        POST-HANDOVER ASSISTANCE

    Because host countries do not assume responsibility for refugees, treat the settlements as temporary, and do not grant citizenship to most refugees, it is inevitable that "handover" of refugee settlements will not lead to the phase-out of


    I- No Renewed Aid

    Etscha, Botswana 1,800 Angola
    Moulard, Djibouti 90 Ethiopia
    Kanyama, Zaire 750 Zambia
    Mutambala, Zaire 1,700 Burundi

    Rumored closed by Gov't due exile activity against Burundi

    Rajaf, Sudan 5,000 Zaire

    1989: possibly repatriating due to security situation in S. Sudan

    Karagwe, Tanzania 2,500 }Rwanda

    1987 report of 1,200 moved to new settlement named Burigi, due to disturbances.

    Muyenzi, Tanzania 5,000 } "

    Some may have been involved in 1990 Banyarwanda refugee invasion of Rwanda from Uganda. Citizenship discussed in 1985, not granted.

    Mwezi, Tanzania 3,000 } "

    II- Minor Renewed Aid to Provide New Facilities or Repair Old Ones

    Muramba, Burundi 9,800 }Rwanda
    Kayongazi, Burundi 5,300 } "
    Kigamba, Burundi 11,727 } "
    Mugera, Burundi 18,692 } "
    Bukema, Burundi 5,330 } "

    1982 report finds four settlements not fully viable. 1987 report finds at level comparable to local population. Aid to water supply, hospital, handicrafts, agricultural implements.

    Mutara, Rwanda 10,000 Burundi

    Overpopulation, no land. Income-generation aid for young refugees. Largely self-sufficient but Gov't & refugees can't maintain established infrastructure.

    Pangale, Tanzania 700 Zaire } For all 4 settlements,
    Bibwe, Zaire 3,000 Rwanda } minor aid requests
    Ihula, Zaire 1,190 " } at ICARA II. No evidence of
    Kalonge, Zaire 700 " } funding or implementation.

    Mayukwayukwa, Zambia 2,200 Angola

    1988 construction of new community dev. structures.

    III- Major Renewed Aid to Improve or Maintain Economic Viability

    Ulyankulu, Tanzania 26,000 }Burundi
    Katumba, Tanzania 74,000 } "
    Mishamo, Tanzania 30,000 } "

    ICARA II cites serious jeopardy to viability. 1988 study finds serious problems in land use and overcrowding. Neumann (1985) criticizes TCRS "high-standard construction," absence of technical expertise. Continuing refugee dependency, lack of participation or self-reliance. Settlement wide gap over locals. 1990 exile attack on Burundi.

    Cataractes, Zaire 100,000 Angola

    Odd case, really self-settled, ongoing aid, longer-term refugees are self-suff.

    Meheba, Zambia 22,000 Angola

    10-12,000 refugees moved from border 1988-90 requires major construction.

    IV- Substantial Aid to Restore Settlement to Full Functioning

    Qala en Nahal, Sudan 30,000 Ethiopia

    Failed after handover in 1977, complex water and tractor probs. Marginal w. NGO aid. Villages near food self-sufficiency.

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