Reaching out beyond the refugee camps
Nyarugusu Refugee Camp encompasses a huge area in Western Tanzania. All around it, smaller host communities are scattered. Inside the camp, you find all sorts of provisions that the host communities don’t necessarily have access to. With this project, we seek to address some of the political discussions that follow when international aid and resources pass through poor communities to be distributed within the camp.

Disputes over access to resources between different population groups is as old as the history of mankind. In Western Tanzania, the issue is as relevant as ever, because Nyarugusu Refugee Camp is placed in an area where many poor rural communities struggle to make ends meet every day.

"Imagine you are a Tanzanian, living in a community along the main access road, two kilometres from Nyarugusu. Every day, you see these agency vehicles, three or more Water Mission trucks, huge trucks loaded with food and millions of dollars of aid literally driving through their community to get into the refugee camp and little or nothing coming to them."
Will Furlong, Regional Director, Water Mission Tanzania

Talking about refugee camps as something temporary seems absurd, given today’s reality where more then 250,000 people live in a camp which has been growing constantly ever since it was created. Since 2015, Nyarugusu has almost doubled in size because of political unrest in Burundi, making thousands of refugees cross the border from Burundi into Tanzania. In 2015 alone, 122,000 Burundian refugees arrived in Western Tanzania, and many of those were sent to Nyarugusu to join 80,000 refugees from Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) who had lived in Nyarugusu for over 20 years.

  • Together with Water Mission, we provide safe water to over 250,000 refugees in Nyarugusu Refugee Camp. Read more.

Water Mission staff working in Heru Ushingo community, Tanzania


Nyarugusu 2.0: Safe water to host communities

According to Will Furlong, reaching out to the host communities is a logical next step, when the distribution of resources between the camp and the surrounding communities is so obviously unfair:

"In November 2017, the Tanzanian government said: ‘It’s not right. You’re going to have to consider the people outside the camp’."
Will Furlong, Regional Director, Water Mission Tanzania

Water Mission brought up the concerns of the Tanzanian government with the Foundation in 2017. Our immediate response was a USD 940,000 grant to provide solar-powered safe water in as many host communities as possible, and a long-term strategy to reach out to all host communities in the Western Tanzania Region needing sustainable access to safe water.

"As far as we know of, we are the only donors who provide safe water simultaneously inside and outside a refugee camp, and the fruitful collaboration with the local authorities shows that this is indeed the way to go about it."
Nils Thorup, Programme Manager, Water

In June 2019, we have granted additional USD 1,3M to provide extended follow-up the the six communities from phase 1 and to reach out to even more rural communities in the area surrounding the camp.

Commissioning event in Kasanda Community. Photo: Water Mission

Safe water

We work closely with our partners to provide access to safe water for the world's poorest in rural communities and forgotten refugee camps.

Kenya Refugee Alliance


UNHCR, PlanBørnefonden



Oxfam GB, Water Mission, WaterAid, Practical Action, UNICEF Denmark

Project Flow



100 pumps for 100 villages


Sunlit Future



Jysk Landsbyudvikling i Nepal, Oxfam GB

Water for Kigoma Region


UNICEF Denmark

Water and sanitation for Gambella (SunWASH)


PlanBørnefonden, Water Mission

Low Cost Sanitation and Water Model in Pakistan


Orangi Pilot Project Research and Training Institute

Water Safe Cities



Kenya 23 – next level


Water Mission

Safe water and sanitation in Togo



Safe Water for Northern Burundi (closed)


Kirkens Nødhjelp (Norwegian Church Aid)

Safe water to Malawi (closed)


Practical Action

Nyarugusu Refugee Camp


Water Mission