By Our Reporter
Kampala: The Government of Japan has committed approximately US$7.9 million (Shs2,8 billion) to support refugees and host communities as well as vulnerable population in Karamoja sub-region, over a period of one year from April 2023 to March 2024, UNICEF said in a press release.
Post-COVID-19, refugees, host communities and the people of Karamoja have been some of the groups’ hardest-hit by hunger and food insecurity.
This support according to Economic specialists, will grow the Uganda’s economic through transport and supplies and services to the targeted communities. More international agencies have committed for funding in different sectors.
The support has been channeled through the United Nations and International Organizations: the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Entity for the Gender Equality and the empowerment of Women (UN Women), and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
“Japan recognizes that the humanitarian situation in refugee-hosting areas and vulnerable communities affected by current global situation such as climate change are devastating. Therefore, the 2023’s contribution has been made with a specific focus on mitigating the impacts of food and nutrition insecurity, gender equality including protection of women from sexual and gender based violence to the vulnerable population, including refugees, host community members, women and children in Uganda. The Government of Japan will continue to support Ugandan people with acknowledging Uganda’s refugee policy and needs for humanitarian–development supports as well as creating strong and powerful partnership,” said Ambassador Fukuzawa.
Honourable Hilary Onek, the Minister of Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees, who attended the press conference said, “on behalf of the Government of Uganda I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Government of Japan through the Ambassador of Japan in Uganda for the generosity exhibited towards supporting the refugee community this year again. This year, support for Karamoja sub-region is also covered. We are grateful for Japan’s cooperation in creating a resilient society, despite being affected by a variety of current global situation and climate change. We look forward to a year of close cooperation and collaboration with Japan in terms of launch of STA2 as well as the Global Refugee Forum in December to enhance Uganda’s open door policy.”
Speaking on behalf of the UN system in Uganda, H.E. Susan Ngongi Namondo, the UN Resident Coordinator, said, “the UN family in Uganda appreciates the government and people of Japan for this important contribution to the efforts in support of refugees and their host communities in Uganda. Japan’s commitment to resilience-based approach by providing focus on vulnerable people in need of food and nutrition assistance in Karamoja is laudable.”
Present at the press conference were representatives of the involved UN agencies: Mr. Francois Renaud (UNHCR Uganda the Assistant Representative for Programme); Mr. Marcus Prior (WFP Uganda Deputy Country Director); Mr. M. Munir A. Safieldin Ph.D. (UNICEF Representative to Uganda); Dr. Paulina Chiwangu (UN Women Uganda Country Representative) and Ms. Priya Gujadhur (FAO Uganda Deputy Country Director).
The assistance has been provided to help meet the objectives the Global Compact on Refugees (GRC) through the implementation of the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) in Uganda, a whole-of-society approach which, under the Government’s leadership, rallies support among a wide range of stakeholders including UN agencies, International Financial Institutions, development and humanitarian partners and the private sector to improve delivery of services for refugees and the communities hosting them.
Uganda is the largest refugee hosting country in Africa with more than 1.5 million refugees and majority of the refugees in Uganda originate from South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia. Refugees and asylum seekers are entitled to work, have freedom of movement and can access social services. The supplementary budget projects will ensure and strengthen their livelihood improvement against conflict and gender-based violence.
Another objectives of the assistance has been provided to overcoming the vulnerability of the global food system caused by the Ukraine situation this time. Since last year, Uganda has faced commodity supply disruption which affects household food and nutrition security. Karamoja sub-region specifically, faces severe food insecurity and malnutrition situations which are caused by prolonged climate change, and the needs of vulnerable population in the area are critically high since the situation has not eased yet.
UNHCR: Has received US$ 3,000,000 towards Uganda’s Country Refugee Response Plan for 2023. This support will enable UNHCR to provide vital protection services and humanitarian aid to over 1,500,000 refugees living in Uganda, with a special emphasis on women and girls through the prevention and response to Gender-Based Violence. Japan’s contribution will continue to support refugees’ access to primary health care, as well as sexual and reproductive health services. UNHCR is also committed to promoting refugee inclusion in line with the Government’s Global Compact on Refugees commitment and will facilitate self-reliance measures through support to farmers and enhanced collaboration with development actors and the private sector. This intervention will specifically support the continuation and expansion of UNHCR-JICA cooperation on rice promotion and farming for refugees and their hosts, in line with the country’s Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework, which promotes refugees’ socio-economic inclusion in their hosting communities. This contribution is a remarkable gesture of solidarity with Uganda, a co-convener with Japan at the Global Refugee Forum in December 2023.
WFP: Has received US$ 2,500,000 for to support the treatment and prevention of malnutrition among 50,000 pregnant and breastfeeding women and young children in the Karamoja region of north-eastern Uganda. Food insecurity places people, especially vulnerable women and children, under risk of malnutrition. Without treatment, malnutrition affects both physical and intellectual growth and has a long-term impact on academic and overall future outcomes of children. WFP will manage malnutrition in Karamoja by working with communities to integrate nutrition treatment and prevention into primary healthcare and service delivery. This will supplement already existing livelihood interventions such as fish farming, supporting schools to grow nutritious, orange-fleshed sweet potatoes for the school feeding programme, and supporting farmers to grow quality food that attracts a good price on the market under the Agricultural Market Support Programme.
UNICEF: Has received US$ 1,200,000 to implement lifesaving interventions targeting children with Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) through integrated health, nutrition and child protection activities in the nine districts of Karamoja sub-region. The interventions targeting over 375,000 girls, boys, women and men will also build resilience of communities and government systems to prevent, prepare and respond in agile ways to recurrent food insecurity and malnutrition crisis as a result of climate change impacts in Karamoja. In addition, UNICEF’s work with funding from the Government of Japan will empower adolescents, girls and women to take decisions and actions for their health and wellbeing.
UN Women: Has received US $ 723,530 to empower a total of 3,250 direct beneficiaries (2,750 women, girls, youth; and 500 men and boys) and 6,200 as indirect beneficiaries. The project targets to reach the most marginalized groups affected by interconnected crises related to drought and displacement, specifically the asylum seekers in Nyakabande transit center in Kisoro, new arrivals in Nakivale refugee settlement in Isingiro District, as well as drought affected women, girls, and youth in Moroto and Kaabong Districts. Key strategies will involve support to 500 women farmers to engage in Climate Smart Agriculture; 500 women and youth increased financial literacy and vocational skills; 600 women access to ICT facilities, equipment and literacy skills through women centers, digitalised Village Savings and Loan Associations and cash for work opportunities for 1,100 women and youth; and 1,550 women accessing transformational leadership skills, legal aid, psychosocial support. Additionally, 500 men and boys and 100 key actors such as the district local government officials, local women organizations, para social workers, para legal, police and members of the judiciary will be trained in skills and knowledge on positive gender norms in support of women’s leadership and protection from violence.
FAO: Has received US$500,000 for immediate access to food, and safeguarding livelihoods assets and income sources. With this financial support, FAO will support up to 7 500 Households, reaching an equivalent of 45 000 people, across the most affected districts of Karamoja through the provision of a livelihood package that includes: animal feed to complement and boost animal diet, sufficient to support core household stock for at least two months; and training of lead farmers on how to use and store rangeland cubes (mineral blocks). Through its CASH+ approach, FAO provides drought‑affected households in Karamoja with CASH to cover basic expenditures on food, health, education, and help protect livelihoods investments and with PLUS + (livelihood package), tailor-made to targeted livelihoods, securing safeguarding and recovery HH’s self-reliance.2 500 families, out of the 7 500, will receive the full package, while 5,000 will be supported with the PLUS – livelihood package.