The government of Uganda has been asked to pay more attention to Refugee hosting communities which are still struggling with poverty and lack of basic services like water, sanitation and shelter.
According to Doreen Mulenga, the UNICEF Representative, the host communities have been victims of civil wars that happened in the past in Uganda and this left them economically unstable, leading to the high level of poverty especially in West Nile and South-West.
“What this means is that we need to go beyond emergency response to build the systems and capacities of all social services in refugee hosting districts. Only by doing so, with health, education, water, and sanitation, child protection service will we be able to reduce the multiple deprivations experienced by tens of thousands of refugee children and children in host communities,” Mulenga said.
According to a study finding done by the Economic Policy Research Center (EPRC) in partnership with UNICEF, children in host communities are similarly deprived of basic needs almost as much as their refugee counterparts.
The story also shows that both refugee and host communities experience a significant level of deprivation, given that the main refugee hosting areas are among the poorest and least developed in the country.
Ibrahim Kasirye, a Principle Research Fellow at EPRC, said there is still need for contagious planning for the unexpected big numbers of refugees as the user services are more than a double of what is normally planned for.
“There is need to plan ahead. Government needs to put in place a contagious budget for the refugee host communities so that they are able to manage the big numbers of the refugees that are continuously coming in,” Kasirye said.
Some of the major findings from the study show that 62%, 46% and 49% of host communities are deprived of water, sanitation and shelter respectively, while the corresponding proportions of refugees for 5years were 69%, 25% and 42% respectively.
Sheila Anne Depio, a Research Analyst at EPRC who presented the findings made some recommendations from the report that governments and other partners can use to make the conditions better.
Among other things, she recommended that government puts in place programs that boost household food security, introduce accelerated education programs, expand access to basic social services and improve quality and efficiency to foster better cohesion and integration between refugees and hosts.
Currently Uganda has over 1.38m refugees with the biggest percentage 70% coming from south Sudan.