Uganda has experienced one of the worst droughts this year, greatly affecting all agricultural activities and output. Refugees who ventured into agriculture to supplement the food ration they receive while in the settlements were equally not spared, a situation that has since triggered a dire food crisis.
The prolonged drought coupled
with an already reduced food and cash ration support for refugees in Uganda is
threatening food security in settlements.
has experienced one of the
worst droughts this year, greatly affecting all agricultural activities
and output. Refugees who ventured into agriculture to supplement
the food ration they receive while in the settlements were equally not
spared, a situation that has
since triggered a dire food crisis.
John Gai, a father of 10 children
at Cluster L in Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement is among
some of the farmers who took to large-scale farming early this year hoping to
reap big. Gai says he planted maize on a one-acre
farm within the settlement but only harvested one bag of dried maize due to the dry spell.
He notes that the majority of the
maize he planted dried up due to the scorching heat.
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Gai says he had banked all his hope
on agriculture since he did not qualify for relief assistance along with his
children after arriving at the settlement in 2019 from South Sudan. He says the
little food and cash ration his mother and relatives receive hardly keeps the family
for more than two weeks.
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John Juma 25, a refugee at
Cluster B in Kiryandongo Refugee settlement says he made a huge loss in the
last farming season from the two-acre maize farmland he hired at 200,000 Shillings.
Like Gai, Juma says he opted to grow crops to supplement the food ration his
family receives but notes that the long dry spell has affected their dreams and as a result, the family now only
survives on a single meal per day.
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Thomas Bigirimana, a Tanzanian refugee
at Nakivale Refugee Settlement in Isingiro District reiterates the same concern.
Bigirimana, who earns a living by growing vegetables says his venture was badly
affected this season, and now, he is unable to take care of his family.
Bigirimana has called on
development partners to invest more in irrigation facilities for the refugees
to help them mitigate the ever-changing climate.
His call was
equally welcomed by the French envoy to Uganda Jules-Armand
Aniambossou during a visit to Nakivale Refugee Settlement, where he
observed a need to invest in skilling refugees in smart agricultural
practices to mitigate
climate change. Aniambossou noted that there is also a need to improve
storage facilities within the refugee settlements to ensure what is
by the farmers is properly stored.
“We have to work together on the
new challenge on the effect of climate change but also how to improve on the
storage because it’s one thing to harvest and it’s another thing to be able to
take all the opportunities of the work you did before,” Says Aniambossou.
The French government, in a bid
to strengthen food security among refugees, last year funded a one-year project
on food security and livelihood in the districts of Isingiro and Kikuube. The
1.2 billion Shillings food aid project implemented by Action Against Hunger
(ACF) in both Nakivale and Kyangwali refugee Settlements aimed at addressing
malnutrition, improving livelihood, and mitigating climate change.
Mark Mutaawe, the settlement
Commandant at Nakivale Refugee Settlement acknowledges that the long dry spell
has had a toll on farming among the refugees in the settlement. He says Isingiro District in
particular being a semi-arid region in the Ankole corridor faced the gruelling
effects of the drought that affected both host and refugees.
Mutaawe however notes that there
is a need for the establishment of irrigation facilities to help farmers
sustainably grow crops throughout the year.
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He says there is a need to address
the aspects of environmental protection and livelihood improvement that
few partners within the refugee settlements are undertaking.
Last year, the World Food
Programme (WFP) cut down the monthly food aid and cash ration provided to
refugees in the country by 40 per cent citing a decline in funding.
Nakivale Refugee Settlement, Refugees, old refugees receive 13,000
shillings in cash relief, down from 31,000 shillings they used to get
previously according to Mutawe. The new arrivals however receive food in
kind consisting of 12.4 kgs of maize, 3kgs of beans, and 0.9 litres of
Uganda is home to some 1.5
million refugees with the majority (about 60 per cent) of the total population
being South Sudan followed by the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).