Kampala -- A framework to address the socio-economic needs of refugees and host communities, tackle environmental challenges and promote investment, has been launched.
The Jobs and Livelihoods Integrated Response Plan (JLIRP) for Refugees and Host Communities will also foster peaceful coexistence, job creation in refugee-hosting districts and drive inclusion for sustainable economic growth.
The Plan, developed by the Government of Uganda with support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and sectoral partners, will benefit over 1.4 million refugees and 5.7 million Ugandan citizens in 31 settlements in 13 districts.
The refugee-hosting districts are Madi-Okollo, Terego, Koboko, Adjumani, Yumbe, Obongi and Lamwo in the North and Kamwenge, Kikuube, Kiryandongo, Kyegegwa and Isingiro in the West as well as Kampala capital city.
With a projected investment of up to UGX 608,515,468,751 (about USD 169 million), the Plan will also strengthen coordination and partnership among key actors in Government, development partners, UN agencies, civil society, the private sector and the leadership of host communities.
Ms. Sheila Ngatia, the UNDP Deputy Resident Representative in Uganda, described the launch as a milestone and congratulated the Government of Uganda and all partners on the achievement.
“This Plan is a vital planning framework to enhance the integrated planning for refugees and host communities, in local development initiatives, promoting peaceful coexistence and to foster sustainable economic growth,” Ms. Ngatia said.
“The Plan will consolidate progress made by Government, development and humanitarian organisations, and boost the capacity of refugee-hosting districts to respond to the socio-economic needs of both the host communities and refugees, in a sustainable manner,” she emphasised.
Ms. Ngatia commended the Government of Uganda for its progressive refugee policy and hosting the highest number of refugees and asylum seekers in Africa. “Uganda stands tall in Africa and the world for this progressive policy.”
Representing Government at the launch, Uganda’s First Deputy Prime Minister Rt. Hon. Moses Ali said Uganda’s hospitality for refugees began in the colonial times when it hosted Polish refugees and continues up today.
After narrating his experience as a refugee in Khartoum, Sudan, in the 1970s, Minister Ali stated refugees should be welcomed because, “the worst thing you can do to refugees is to send them back to the hostile government they are running from.” “It’s wrong to send back someone who has run away from his country,” he stressed.
The First Deputy Prime Minister said most Ugandan leaders were once refugees in Kenya, Tanzania and Sudan, making it easy for them to make plausible decision on refugee hosting. “We do what we do because we believe it is correct. This being a refugee is temporary thing. These people are refugees today and one day they will go back home. However, before they go, they should be treated with courtesy and dignity,” Gen. Moses Ali elaborated.
He said despite limited sources, Uganda cannot turn its back on refugees or leave the situation to religious prayers, hoping that all will be well for them. With the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) and collective response of partners, Uganda has a legal and moral responsibility to refugees, he expounded. “Despite the challenge of hosting refugees, we keep our borders open. We do this as a responsibility and burden-sharing,” Gen. Ali explained.
Synergies with Existing Frameworks
The Jobs and Livelihoods Integrated Response Plan for Refugees and Host Communities, which will be implemented across five-years in the period 2020 to 2025, builds on existing frameworks that address the well-being of refugees and host communities.
These include the Education Response Plan for Refugees and Host Communities in Uganda (2019), the Health Sector Integrated Refugee Response Plan (2019-2024), the Water and Environment Sector Response Plan and the upcoming Energy Sector Refugee Response Plan. The UNDP also supported the development of the Water and Environment Sector Response Plan.
UNDP in Uganda has implemented several interventions to support the refugee response. They include; Cash for Work to build resilience of refugees through public works, vocational training for youth to equip them with skills for jobs, disaster risk reduction, and tree planting to address the challenge of deforestation.
In a bid to achieve these key outcomes, the Plan has five strategic objectives:
- Peaceful coexistence and economic interaction extended and strengthened between refugees and host communities by 2025.
- Sustainable economic opportunities created in 13 refugee-hosting districts for improved competitiveness and inclusive growth of refugees and host communities by 2025.
- Food, nutrition and income security of 486,861 refugee and 1,152,087 host community households improved by 2025.
- Skilled refugees and host communities capable of harnessing employment opportunities in the country by 2025.
- A minimum of 361,000 (ﬁve per cent) of refugee and host communities’ vulnerable populations are fully included and actively participating in local development initiatives of the country by 2025.
The report is anchored on five development pillars of strengthening social cohesion between refugees and host communities, promoting enabling entrepreneurial-led development and market growth systems and increased agricultural productivity, production and marketable volumes. Others are increasing access to market-relevant skills training to enhance employability and job creation and promoting effective and responsive social protection and social inclusion systems.
National Steering Committee unveiled
During the launch of the JLIRP, the National Steering Committee for the operationalization of the Plan was also inaugurated. It comprises representatives from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Office of the Prime Minister, Department of Refugees, National Planning Authority, Ministry of Education and Sports, Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, Ministry of East African Community Affairs and Ministry of Local Government. Others are the World Bank, Danish Embassy, UNHCR, ILO, the Netherlands Embassy, GIZ, international NGOs, local NGOS, CRRF, and Uganda Business and Technical Examinations Board (UBTEB.)