With the Northern Uganda peace talks at crucial turning point, several international and local humanitarian organizations are gearing themselves up for aid challenge that faces the region.
According to the Government, in 2006 and 2007 improved security, greater freedom of movement, and significant progress toward a negotiated settlement to the conflict encouraged an estimated 920,000 internally displaced persons to relocate closer to their homes. However, an additional 843,000 IDPs remain in overcrowded camps.
Many IDPs and returnees continue to lack sufficient access to essential services in conflict-affected areas.
A statement from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) says it is facilitating the transition from emergency relief programs towards longer-term development programming. It is doing this by prioritizing projects that support the returns process and assist conflict-affected populations to reestablish livelihoods in home communities.
In 2007, USAID established a sub-office in Gulu to monitor ongoing activities and coordinate USAID efforts in the region. According to the statement, last year alone USAID provided nearly 13 million dollars in humanitarian assistance programs to beneficiaries in established camps, as well as in new returnee sites.
USAID-supported initiatives include increasing the amount of arable land to improve food security, rehabilitating water points in areas of return, repairing roads to provide access to markets and support local economies, and funding radio programs to inform returnees on local conditions and services.
The organization says it will continue to monitor humanitarian conditions, respond to evolving needs, and coordinate with other humanitarian agencies to lay the foundation for broader development programs in Uganda.