The Government of Uganda in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) have launched a new multi-year, development project to promote transformative livelihoods and economic recovery in refugees and the host communities in West Nile and Acholi sub-regions.
The $9 million (approximately Shs 33 billion) – “Uganda Host and Refugee Community Empowerment Project (2019-2022), was launched on Wednesday by the State Minister for Local Government, Jennifer Namuyangu, together with the UNDP Resident Representative, Ms. Elsie Attafuah and the Republic of Korea Ambassador, Byung-Kyoo Ha.
The Government of Korea through KOICA provided $7 million (approximately Shs 25.6 billion) while UNDP contributed $2million (approximately Shs7.2 billion) to the project, which will strengthen economic opportunities for women and youth among refugee and host communities in the districts of Adjumani, Obongi and Lamwo district.
The project will also develop the capacity of district-level officers, livelihood actors, and targeted communities to create enabling environment to ensure gender responsive economic recovery using ‘whole of society’ approach.
While launching the project, Minister Namuyangu, commended the Republic of Korea and UNDP for the project’s transformative approach to the refugee response that will promote Local Economic Development and improve livelihoods of both the refugees and the host communities.
“The Ministry of Local Government welcomes the project. It strengthens the humanitarian efforts by introducing innovative development interventions for refugees and host communities,” Namuyangu.
“We thank most sincerely, the Republic of Korea and UNDP for funding this multi-year project which will promote social cohesion, gender equality, enhance service delivery but also improve livelihoods,” she added.
A total of 12 local governments in Uganda are hosting refugees and the majority of Uganda’s 1.3 million refugees are hosted in Northern Uganda.
The region, also emerging from years of conflict, suffers from underdevelopment, poverty and struggling livelihoods.
Speaking at the launch, the UNDP Resident Representative, Ms. Elsie Attafuah, applauded the Government of Uganda for having the most progressive refugee policies in Africa of; non-camp policy, free integration of refugees, equal access to social services, an opportunity to work and own land for farming and shelter.
She said the enabling policy framework is a testament of the Government of Uganda’s commitment to enabling refugees pursue self-reliance and live in dignity while outside their countries.”
Ms. Attafuah however pointed out that the provision of land and other social services to refugees strains the districts available resources and this mismatch sometimes results in conflict.
“The solution lies in robust livelihoods assistance for refugees and host communities, incentives for private-sector investment, long-term donor commitments to close fundraising gaps and the enduring support of the Ugandan people,” Ms Attafuah noted.
She explained that it’s for this reason that UNDP joined hands with KOICA and the Government of Uganda to bolster the districts of Adjumani, Obongi and Lamwo’s efforts to improve the vulnerabilities of refugees and their host communities in line with the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants.
This project will be implemented as part of UNDP Uganda’s Emergency Response and Resilience Strategy and directly ccontributes to the government efforts in response to the refugee influx, the Uganda Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) Action plan and the Refugee Response Plan.
Through its integrator role, UNDP plays a critical role in supporting the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in an integrated manner.
The project will therefore promote the humanitarian, peace and development nexus through platforms that identify home-grown solutions to the various issues that ensure the refugees and host communities live a dignified life.
It will also promote the achievement of SDGs particularly; Goals 1 (poverty reduction); 4 (quality education), 5 (gender equality and women empowerment), 8 (decent work and economic growth), 9 (industry innovation and infrastructure), 13 (climate action), 15 (life on land), and 17 (partnership for the goals).
The Korea Ambassador, Byung-Kyoo Ha said that as a way of complementing Uganda’s development efforts, Korea, through KOICA, has undertaken to strengthen pathways to promote transformative livelihoods and economic recovery to advance gender equality in refugee hosting districts in Northern Uganda.
“In that regard, we are committing to contribute 7 million USD over the next four years towards this project. Through this project support, we expect that marginalized women and girls in refugee and host communities in Adjumani, Lamwo and Obongi districts will be economically skilled for their living. We are hopeful to see them working in safe environment that ensures improved welfare of their entire families and communities,” Byung-Kyoo said.
Speaking on behalf of the local leaders, the Adjumani district chairperson, Mr. Johnson Anyanzo, said the residents welcome the project as it takes care of the plight of both refugees and their hosts and will cement the harmonious relationship existing.
“We believe this project should be able to make an impact in areas it says it’s going to address in the districts hosting refugees and people will not regret for hosting them,” Mr Anyanzo commented.