The nexus of displacement, asset vulnerability and the Right to the City : the case of the refugees and urban poor of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
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The nexus between rapid urbanisation and forced migration has in recent years manifested itself in a growing urban refugee phenomenon. The need for integrating the greater mobility of displaced populations with urban development is a humanitarian challenge as governments struggle to develop coherent policies to adequately meet the needs of both indigenous and refugee populations in urban areas. Understanding these needs and the livelihood strategies adopted by both populations are therefore of great importance. This thesis will specifically examine the asset vulnerability and livelihood strategies of the urban refugees and urban poor of Dar es Salaam using an asset vulnerability framework, while linking the framework to the concept of the Right to the City. This dissertation investigates the adaptation strategies of the Tanzanian urban poor and urban refugees to livelihood challenges in Dar es Salaam, the primary city of Tanzania and one of the most rapidly growing cities in the world. The impacts of forced displacement are likely to be challenging for refugee populations as they struggle to adapt to new circumstances. However, the assertion that urban refugees are more vulnerable than their urban poor counterparts is often made as a generalisation and not enough research has been conducted on this topic to develop a robust theory. The research therefore aims to examine the levels of asset vulnerability of both the urban refugees and urban poor Tanzanians and how they claim their Right to the City. In analysing asset vulnerability through the research paradigm of the Right to the City, this research provides analysis of how poor households attempt to reduce their vulnerability, and the institutional factors which help them to succeed or fail in their attempts. This research found that while both groups exert great efforts in attempting to reduce their vulnerability, urban refugees are indeed more disadvantaged overall. In the absence of strong social networks, savings or regular income, they are forced to adopt some negative coping strategies. This study adopts a case study approach and uses institutional analysis with the aid of the conceptual framework developed to examine the extent to which various government institutions and other stakeholders in Dar es Salaam foster an environment which reduces asset vulnerability and allows both groups to claim their Right to the City. The analysis in this research highlights the shortcomings of urban development planning and current refugee policies. The analysis indicates that many of the institutions lack any real vision or common goal for what they are trying to achieve, and instead exist in silos which result in poorly developed policies and ineffective programmes. Analysing the empirical evidence through the lenses of the Right to the City paradigm and asset vulnerability framework, this research reveals that providing more support to NGOs which work with urban refugees could greatly reduce their vulnerability. It also highlights clearly the linkages between asset vulnerability at the micro (household) and macro (city) levels, and how a negative feedback mechanism can develop in the absence of well–developed policies and strong institutions. Municipal and urban governance structures have the ability to create environments at the macro level which will result in less asset vulnerability at the micro level, and thereby increase the resilience of both the urban refugees and Tanzanian populations.