Since the outbreak of conflict in South Sudan in 2013, an estimated 5 million people have been displaced from South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo and other neighbouring countries and have found themselves settling in the northern region of Uganda, with thanks to the country’s open border policy that provides refugees with land for settlement and cultivation.
UNDP’s project “Fostering Humanitarian, Development, and Peace Building Nexus for Resilience among Refugees and Host Communities in Northern Uganda” has been implemented in Lamwo District in partnership with the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and Community Road Empowerment (CORE), made possible through support from the Government of Japan. The main objective of this project is to build refugee and host community resilience for enhanced gender responsive livelihoods and environmental sustainability, ensuring communities and local municipalities have increased capacity to enable resilient livelihoods, employment opportunities, and delivery of basic services and security.
The project has been providing livelihood support to refugee and host community beneficiaries through cash-for-work activities, whereby beneficiaries have been supported with cash grants. To date, these activities have not only allowed beneficiaries to start their own business ventures and lift them out of poverty, but has also opened over 8 kilometres of road, repaired 412 meters of road using do-nou technology, constructed 1,196 energy savings stoves, provided business support to 841 beneficiaries, and sensitized beneficiaries on COVID-19 preventative measures and distributed PPEs materials to the district Local Government of Lamwo.
Cash-for-work supporting beneficiary business ventures
Ms. Adong Grace, a 28-year-old living in Ogili Central Village with her husband and three children, is a member of Pi-anyim VSLA (Village Saving and Loans Associations), one of the VSLA groups supported by the project. Adong is a host community beneficiary who was trained to construct energy-saving stoves, for which she received a grant which in turn supported her goat rearing business.
“I am grateful for this project because it has not only provided me with skills in stove construction but also with payment for the work done in form of cash-for-work,” said Ms. Adong Grace. “With the money I received, I am in a position to expand my goat rearing business and hopefully gain from it in future.”
“Additional trainings in business skills and gender roles have been constructive in changing our families and the households,” she said. “I shared the knowledge I obtained from the trainings on gender and gender roles with my husband after he took interest in the activities, and now he has changed for the better and become more supportive and helpful around the home.”
Ms. Amuno Flow, group leader of the Walegu VSLA, explained how members of the group had also been saving during the project period. The group applied for a grant to purchase a grinding mill, since there was no such business in their community yet the demand for milling was high considering most families in the settlement feed on posho (cornmeal porridge). According to Amuno, the grinding mill generates 35,000 UGX ($10 USD) daily, with 25 percent of which being saved and the rest injected back into daily operation costs.
“We appreciate this project and the investment it has made to boost our incomes,” said Ms. Amuno Flow. “We are positive this mill will improve our livelihoods and help us to support our children.”
Ms. Agnes Lamwaka is a 23-year-old refugee who fled South Sudan to settle with her family in Uganda. Before arriving, she had attained education up to an equivalent of senior four in Uganda. However, gaining employment upon arrival proved difficult, so she resorted to taking part in small scale agriculture with her family. After being selected as a cash-for-work beneficiary, Lamwaka was supported with training in stove making as well as business skills training which allowed her to open her own hairdressing business.
“I was able to develop a business plan around my hairdressing business,” Lamwaka explained. “The project has also enabled me to train my fellow refugees in hairdressing. Currently, I have 8 fully enrolled students learning hairdressing. I also make an average of 40,000 UGX ($11 USD) per day and I’m so thankful for UNDP and CORE for providing this life changing project.”