Aggrey Nyondwa Kikobera
Uganda hosts over 1.3 million refugees and majority of these are from South Sudan, settled in the West Nile region.
Alongside refugees, live host communities who have welcomed refugees with open hands and as a result agreed to share land, roads, schools and other resources.
Given that many refugees are likely to remain in Uganda for the long-term, the future prospects of both refugee and host communities are very much inter-dependent, and there is need to ensure resilience, sustainability and peaceful coexistence for these two communities.
World Vision Uganda has launched the Mission to Increase Capacity and Hope Program (MICAH) which is an innovative programming approach aimed at enhancing resilience and social cohesion amongst vulnerable refugee and host communities in Uganda.
MICAH is a long-term, community development program.
“We are excited to have the MICAH launch. It is a very rich program that perfectly fits into the government’s Refugee and Host Population Empowerment framework (REHOPE) that emphasizes a 70/30 approach in refugee-host community benefit ratios. Micah is also a milestone towards the Humanitarian Nexus which is the goal of every humanitarian program in the world.” Said Jennifer Neelsen, the Refugee Response Director World Vision Uganda.
The programme is being implemented in the Omugo Sub county of Arua district, which is an extension of Rhino refugee settlement in West Nile sub-region of northern Uganda.
The programme targets 50,000 persons both refugees and host community.
The design period is three years with an estimated budget of $ 8 million.
The program specifically looks at promoting protection, social cohesion and improving livelihoods among refugees and the host communities living in Omugo Sub County.
World Vision, through this program is also set to improve education and early childhood development among refugee children and currently has over 45 child friendly spaces which host over 35,000 refugee children within Adjumani, Yumbe and Arua districts.
These places provide a safe and exciting environment for children to play learn and have most of their psychosocial needs addressed.
“The common issues in the communities we work are around protection, social cohesion and livelihoods. A lot of families do not earn any income at all and this is a big challenge since they cannot provide for the basic needs of their families including health, education and food. If these challenges are not attended to right now, they will impact this community for a long time,” said Mary Njeri, the Program Manager MICAH.
Over 2500 households have so far benefited from the Animal Gifts Catalogue under the MICAH program.
These received goats, chicken and various trainings on livestock management and savings.
Various groups from the host communities have also received training and farm inputs including cassava cuttings which has been used to provide food and income.
“We did not come with anything. We had lost all hope, but when we came, World Vision was the first to intervene. They gave us chicken and goats. This has greatly improved on our lives. I can now have a change of diet since we get eggs and milk. We have also sold some of these animals to raise income for school fees and other basic needs,” said Juma David, a refugee welfare leader in Omugo.
The programme is to be implemented in coordination with local government to achieve the intended goal and impact.
It was officially launched on Wednesday 21st August by the Resident District Commissioner (RDC) Arua district Nahori Oya who reechoed the government’s commitment to ensure the success of the projects.
“The government of Uganda is fully committed to this program and we welcome it with open hands. We appreciate all the partners behind this, especially World Vision for taking the lead. Through building peace and resilience, let us also promote environmental preservation. We need programmes like these to also expand and include the question of preserving our natural and environmental species,” he said