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FAO report wants refugees included in national development agenda

Children, especially those in refugee camps. FAO has urged government to add refugees on the National Development program in a new report released (FILE PHOTO)

MOYO –  A new report by Food Agricultural organisation has called upon government of Uganda to identify and boost business opportunities that will help refugees move towards self-reliance.

The report also recommends that the refugee response should steer its focus away from exclusively short-term, life-saving interventions in favour of integrating refugees into medium and long-term development to benefit refugee and host communities

The report released September 4 also wants government to facilitate refugees’ integration in the Ugandan labour market on the basis of their skills, past experiences and aspirations.

“And this can be done by establishing an informal support network between refugee and host community groups working in similar sectors, or developing apprenticeship programmes to help assimilate refugees with lower levels of skills,” reads the report in part launched in Moyo district 4 September.

The report titled; Food security, resilience and well-being analysis of refugees and host communities in Northern Uganda and a new Roadmap to support refugee and host communities to be resilient and food secure asks government to support refugees’ businesses and activities by granting access to infrastructure and basic services, and providing support towards integrating their activities within local markets and sales systems.

“And this could include the strengthening of existing microfinance services tailored to the needs of refugee start-up businesses and, where possible, strengthening social inclusion through mixed savings groups involving refugees and host communities,” adds the report launched by the Acting Commissioner for Refugees in the Office of the Prime Minister, Mr Gerald Mehnya and FAO Uganda Deputy Representative/Representative Ms Priya Gujadhur.

In August 2017, Government, through the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) requested FAO to support the implementation of a socio-economic analysis within refugee settlements and host communities to provide a comprehensive assessment on the current state of refugees’ food security, resilience and well-being.

The OPM and FAO have now co-published the findings [Report] that used FAO’s Resilience Index Measurement and Analysis (RIMA) tool across South Sudanese refugee hosting districts in Northern Uganda.

The RIMA was carried out between November and December 2017 among both the refugee population and host communities in Adjumani, Moyo, Yumbe, Arua, Lamwo, Koboko and Kiryandongo Districts.

Mr Gerald Mehnya, the acting Commissioner for Refugees in the Office of the Prime Minister commended FAO for carrying out the analysis on behalf of the Government of Uganda and for providing a comprehensive assessment of the current state of refugees’ food security, well-being and resilience to shocks such as drought and crop failure from pests and diseases.

Mr Mehnya said the Government of Uganda is committed to adopting the recommendations to help “enhance evidence-based programming and planning” of Uganda’s refugee response.

“We thank FAO for its commitment in supporting the development of Uganda in many aspects including on emergency response especially on agricultural livelihood interventions which partly has been driven by the results of this report. We would strongly encourage other implementing partners and operation partners to take advantage of this available information in planning for the interventions for refugees and host communities,” said Mehnya at the launch of the report.

Ms Gujadhur noted that the RIMA was timely in helping FAO to develop a new strategy to support refugee and host communities to meet not just their immediate needs but reduce risk, vulnerability, and at all levels of need;

“While providing a reference framework for humanitarian and development actors to contribute to a common vision for refugee livelihoods and sustainability,” he added.

“Refugees are a powerful human resource with the potential to make positive contributions to their host society, reinforcing the need for a concentrated effort of humanitarian and development actors to work together towards refugee empowerment, resilience and ultimately self-reliance. Only by working along the humanitarian – development nexus will we be able to reach the long-term goal of self-reliance,” said Ms Gujadhur.

Mr Kazuaki Kameda, Ambassador of Japan to Uganda, noted that the RIMA findings demonstrate “how practical, affordable and effective local-level interventions can be undertaken to significantly improve the resilience of refugees and host communities through preparedness and response, mitigation as well as the adaptation”.

“I hope the findings and lessons learned from the analysis can be a springboard to a shift in approach and a greater focus on building community resilience in refugee prone areas across Uganda”, Mr Kameda added.

The function also saw the official launch of FAO’s new “Refugee and Host Community Response Roadmap” (2018 – 2020), a strategy document that builds directly on the findings of the RIMA report to guide FAO’s comprehensive response to support refugees and host communities.

And aligned to this strategy, FAO also launched two projects that will strengthen food and income security of refugee population and host communities:

-Strengthening the Resilience of Refugee and Host-Community Livelihood Systems (Funded by the Government of Japan) through support to and skills enhancement in crop and livestock production and environmental conservation.

Assistance to Strengthening Refugee and Host Community Households’ Self-Reliance, Income Generation and Resilience to Food And Nutrition Insecurity (Funded by the UN Central Emergency Response Fund) to help them absorb, recover and adapt in a sustainable way from the impacts of the refugee crisis.

About RIMA

RIMA was done under the coordination of the Office of the Prime Minister, FAO worked with the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS), United Nations Emergency Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and World Food Programme (WFP), Save the Children, Lutheran World Federation (LWF) while Makerere University supported supervision of field activities

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