Leaders in the West Nile sub-region are advocating for an extension of the Development Response to Displacement Impacts Projects (DR DIP) to ensure the completion of ongoing initiatives aimed at addressing the social, economic, and environmental needs of refugee host communities.
The call comes as they express concerns about the imminent end of funding for the projects and the potential consequences on service delivery.
The DR DIP initiative has been instrumental in empowering communities by upgrading and constructing vital public infrastructure, including schools, health centres, water systems, roads, and markets. Chairman LCV Arua District, Alfred Okwuonzi (OKWONJI), emphasized the impact of refugee presence on social services, stating,
"If we were left to survive on the little monies we get from the government, which are dwindling year in and year out, our social amenities are strained, go to hospitals, go to schools."
Okwuonzi highlighted the spillover effects of the refugee presence, affecting the entire West Nile sub-region, even districts that do not host refugees.
He pointed to challenges like food insecurity, attributing it to the influx of funds to refugees, who subsequently purchased available food supplies.
During a meeting in Arua District discussing the implementation gaps of the DR DIP program, Madi-Okollo LC V chairman Drabe Ismael expressed concern about unfinished projects as the funding approaches its end this month.
"We might be forced to return the unused monies to the consolidated funds yet the region is still struggling with service delivery," lamented Alfred Okwuonzi, LCV chairman of Arua District.
In terms of project progress, Madi Okollo District received sh.24bn for 162 sub-projects, with 99 completed, 56 in progress, and 7 yet to start. Arua District received sh.15bn for 78 sub-projects, with 50 completed and the rest still in progress.
Mambo Ashiraf, LC V chairman of Koboko, expressed concern about unutilized funds, stating,
"Up to now, we are having these monies that we have not used." However, he highlighted the uniqueness of the project, recommending its continuation.
With more than 700,000 refugees from South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, and other countries facing protracted displacement due to instability, West Nile leaders are calling for the second phase of the program.
They are advocating for its alignment with the Parish Development Model to ensure sustained development and support for the region.