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Accepted paper:

Walanguzi or Madalali, 'Black Marketeers' or 'Brokers'? Demystifying the Food Aid Resale Markets


Clayton Boeyink (University of Edinburgh)

Paper short abstract:

Exploring WFP food aid resale networks and the brokers or malali involved, this paper demystifies the 'black market' to enter the 'humanitarian-development nexus' and 'refugee self-reliance' debate. I argue there is no nexus, humanitarianism is development.

Paper long abstract:

The 'humanitarian-development nexus' and 'refugee self-reliance' are two buzzwords that have recently been eagerly adopted by policymakers and warily critiqued by academics (Omata 2016; Easton-Calabria and Omata 2018; Carpi 2019; Ilcan 2018). Despite the new phraseology, this is in many ways an old and recurring debate (Chambers 1986; Black 1994; Kaiser 2006). This paper follows a new tack to entering this debate by tracking the relationship of the temporal shifts in Tanzania of negatively labelling food traders as walunguzi or 'black marketeers' or 'saboteurs' to the more benign label of madalali or 'brokers' as the macroeconomics of the country changed. It has long been common knowledge that humanitarian food aid in refugee and humanitarian settings gets sold by its recipients (Pottier 1996). Oka (2014) calls this 'agentive consumption', which refugees enact for a sense of normalcy and dignity. The scholarship, however, stops at consumption and ignores the massive post-consumption distribution system and networks that stretch across East Africa. I track these networks of food aid resellers in and around the camp who are simultaneously labelled madalali and walanguzi to demystify the camp's black market. I situate these entrepreneurs—the heroes of the present neoliberal self-reliance strategies—within the large literature in anthropology and African studies on political brokerage in colonial and post-colonial contexts. While madalali individually are ambivalent businesspeople, they serve as crucial humanitarian links to de facto local integration and development. There is no nexus, humanitarianism is development.

panel AA08
Trajectories of refuge: protracted displacement and humanitarian responses