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The European Union Trust Fund’s (EUTF) Support Programme for
Refugee Settlements in Northern Uganda (SPRS-NU) recently hosted a team from UNHCR,
which is supporting governments to roll out the Comprehensive Refugee Response
The CRRF calls for greater support to refugees and the countries that host them. It specifies key elements for a comprehensive response to any large movement of refugees, which include rapid and well-supported reception and admissions; support for immediate and on-going needs; assistance for local and national institutions and communities receiving refugees; and expanded opportunities for solutions.
The team, made up of Caroline Lensing-Hebben, the UNHCR CRRF Development Adviser in Geneva and three other members, was visiting programmes that have a close cooperation with the districts/governments in providing sustainable and comprehensive interventions; a strong support to host communities and activities with strong medium and long-term focus.
The objective of the mission was to gather concrete examples and highlight how development partners contribute to the response. The findings are to be showcased by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees at the High Commission Dialogue on 18-19 December, 2018.
The team visited the livelihood component of the SPRS-NU, implemented by CEFORD in Eden village, Rhino Camp refugee settlement, Arua district and two farmer field schools in Kiryandongo supported by Save the Children. They interacted with three farmer field schools; one in Arua called Awadifo (which means ‘thank you’ in the local language Lugbara) and Rubanga Wie Pe Will (which means ‘God Does Not Forget’ in the local language Acholi) and Kiryandongo Bee Keepers’ Association. Awadifo grows crops such as simsim, eggplant and cassava for promoting food security and runs a grinding mill received from CEFORD. Each month, the group earns about UGX1,700,000 (USD472) from the grinding mill.
Lensing-Hebben appreciated the ability of SPRS-NU to impact lives through the household incomes and food security they are improving.
The visitors also engaged with the conflict management component run by ZOA. They interacted with a local court in Eden village, Rhino Camp, which has members from both the local (Ugandan) councils as well as refugee welfare councils. These have formed a local court that mediates in conflicts and attempts to resolve cases.
“We used to have very many conflicts between refugees as well as between refugees and nationals but they are now reducing since we were equipped with skills and knowledge on how to prevent and solve them,” said Samuel Albino, Chairperson of the Refugee Welfare Council in Eden village. “For those cases that we are not able to handle, we refer them to the higher authorities.”
Lensing-Hebben was appreciative of the collaboration between refugee welfare councils and local councils. Visiting the Accelerated Education Programme (AEP) at Ofua Primary School in Arua District, the AEP learning centre headteacher greatly appreciated the EUTF-SPRS-NU interventions. The Accelerated Education Programme is a flexible, age-appropriate programme that brings back to school children who had dropped out. The school is a community one which does not get any funding from the Government – but is mainly supported by the community and non-governmental organisations. Save the Children has built a classroom block at the school and supports both South Sudan refugees and Ugandan nationals.
In Kiryandongo, the team visited the WASH component of the programme. They saw a production well under construction by the Austrian Development Agency (ADA) and a water supply tank for both refugees and host communities. It was revealed that with the completion of the project there would be better access to safe water and the number of hours that girls/women spent in queues for water would reduce by more than four hours.
The team wound up with a visit to the skills development and entrepreneurship component, implemented by Enabel, the Belgian development agency, through several grantees. The visit was to Flaminio Vocational Training Institute, in Arua, which, in partnership with Action Africa Help International Uganda, offers training in trades such as tailoring, catering, welding, bricklaying and construction for refugee and Ugandan youth.
The visit also included a stop-over to students who underwent a six-month training at Welthungerhilfe’s Vocational Skills Centre in Siripi, Rhino Camp, and are now on internship with various private sector enterprises. Through internship, the students get exposure to the real place of work, business and entrepreneurial world. “I have learnt a lot from this tailoring workshop; now I can make all kinds of wares I learnt about in the training centre. I look forward to starting my own business,” said Jacob Akoy, an intern.
“I saw a lot of positive impact,” said Lensing-Hebben. “I saw development and humanitarian partners coming together to create change for communities, working in partnership with the local government.”
At a ‘meet-and-greet’ dinner for the team, the Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Arua district, Paul Samuel Mbiwa, said the district appreciates the support of the development partners for they are creating impact. “When we go on monitoring missions we can see that the refugees’ lives are changing through the SPRS-NU programme,” he said. He pledged the district’s support to ensuring that programmes succeed.