For teachers - ages 12-14 Geography: Student Activity Sheet 1: Population and Areas of Rwandan Refugee Camps, Kagera Region, Tanzania, Late 1996
Teaching Tools, 3 April 2007
The information which follows was extracted from a report written by two environmental experts working for UNHCR, in December 1996, just a couple of weeks before the masses of Rwandan refugees, who had been living in the Kagera region of Tanzania, returned to Rwanda.
As at November 1996, the Kagera Region of Tanzania hosted 617,000 refugees from Rwanda and Burundi, located in 11 main camps in the three neighbouring Districts of Ngara, Karagwe and Biharamulo, where they made up 45% of the overall population.
Table 1 summarises the camp populations and areas in Ngara District.
Table 1: Camp Populations and Areas (October 1996)
Note that the three largest camps (Benaco, Lumasi and Msuhura) also had the highest population densities, bringing a number of problems with energy supply and environmental degradation.
Which camp was the most crowded? How do you know?
What problems might high population density cause in the camps of Benaco, Lumasi and Msuhura? Think about your answers and write a couple of sentences under each of the following headings:
- Cooking fuel (domestic energy)
- Soil erosion
- Social conflicts
To get an idea of the crowded living conditions in a refugee camp like Benaco, imagine 273 people living, working, cooking, eating, sleeping, bathing, excreting – everything in one hectare, a space the size of two football fields.
For the sake of comparison, Table 2 provides population, area and density figures for three major cities of the world.
Table 2: Major Cities of the World – Populations, Areas and Densities (1991)
excluding inland waterways
These huge cities, with vast areas of high rise apartments, have population densities similar to some refugee camps, which are made up of individual huts. Just imagine how close together those refugees must be living!