Stronger District Local Governments are key for refugees hosting districts – Uganda Solidarity Summit Side Event on Local Government

Jun 26, 2017

UNDP Country Director, Ms. Almaz Gebru delivers her remarks as Mr. Hiroshi Kato, the JICA Senior Vice President looks on (Photo Credit: UNDP Uganda).

Kampala - The UNDP Country Director, Ms. Almaz Gebru says strengthening the capacity of district local governments is key to the sustainability of Uganda’s progressive refugee hosting model.

Ms. Gebru observed that districts are at the forefront of hosting refugees, including maintaining peaceful co-existence of refugees and host communities.

The UNDP Country Director made this observation while was speaking at the Local Government side event during the Uganda Solidarity Summit for Refugees held in Kampala on June 22nd 2017.

“Recognising the need for greater investment in the capacity of district local governments to deliver services to all those living in the district, UNDP established the ‘Emergency Response and Resilience Strategy for Refugees and Host Communities,’ to provide a vehicle to address the unique development challenges facing districts hosting refugees,” Ms Gebru said.

With the theme of the meeting was, “Enhancing Development Approaches for Resilience and Self-Reliance of Refugees and Host Communities: Strengthening the Capacity of Local Governments in Uganda,” the event was jointly organised by the UNDP and Japan International Development Agency (JICA).

Ms. Gebru noted that Uganda’s inclusion of refugees in its second National Development Plan through the Settlement Transformation Agenda demonstrates its commitment to support the over seven million Ugandans that live side-by-side the over 1.2 million refugees they host.

“Refugee hosting is a development issue, and therefore requires development solutions,” Ms Gebru said adding that through the multi-stakeholder Refugee and Host Population Empowerment Strategy (ReHoPE), UNDP supports the Settlement Transformation Agenda.

Last September, at the UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants, the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) was adopted. CRRF seeks to establish a global model for a comprehensive response to any large movement of refugees. This includes easing pressure on host countries and enhancing refugee self-reliance.

Affirming her, Mr. Hiroshi Kato, JICA’s Senior Vice President said there was need to address the needs of refugees and the host communities simultaneously.

“We must respond simultaneously to the needs of newly arriving refugees as well as of those in protracted refugee situations, living in local communities. And these communities, in turn, must be supported by local governments,” Mr. Kato noted.

Mr. Musa Ecweru, the Minister of State for Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees, speaking on behalf of the Government said that Uganda’s refugee management model is built on her hospitable people.

He said Government’s policy is never to criminalise groups but isolate wrong individuals. “I am proud to stand in front of you and declare we rejected xenophobia in all its manifestations. That’s why we are welcoming refugees,” Mr. Ecweru said.

Uganda is currently hosting 1.27 million refugees from; South Sudan, Somalia, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda.

During the meeting, local government representatives from the 12 districts that host refugees called on Central Government and Development Partners to work with them to improve provision of social services for both the locals as well as the host communities with the districts.

UNDP is currently working with local governments in West Nile through its Emergency Response and Resilience Strategy for Refugees and Host Communities project supported by the Government of Japan. It has also worked with the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) to map Oruchinga Refugee Settlement in Isingiro district, South Western Uganda.

A panel discussion provided a few recommendations on how partners can support the Local Governments in their work with both host and refugee communities.