Hon Onek and Ambassador unveiling plaque

The Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) has today commissioned 63 completed classrooms in Yumbe District and on 7th of May 2021 four completed water systems in Madi Okollo District. These facilities were financed by the German Government.

Following a request from OPM to the German Government in 2016 to support infrastructural development within refugee settlements and hosting communities, the German Government responded by initiating the Refugee Response Fund (RRF) and with a commitment of EUR 10 million (approx. 42.5 Billion UGX) grant through the German Development Bank (KfW) to support refugees and host communities in Northern Uganda.

The RRF is part of the German Government’s multifaceted support to Uganda to manage the challenges arising from the influx of refugees, to implement the Global Compact on Refugees and the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) process. Despite the challenges arising from hosting districts, currently Uganda hosts approx. 1.47 million refugees of which 837,922 are settled in West Nile. The influx of refugees has continued to put additional pressure on the already overburdened basic infrastructure and social services in the hosting communities.

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At the time of the launch of the RRF in 2017, 23.4% of host communities in West Nile and many settlements did not meet the globally recommended minimum emergency standards for drinking water of 15 litres per person per day. Limited and undeveloped education infrastructure was evident with an average of 162 children per classroom in Bidibidi, Uganda’s largest settlement, while 36 % of children were not attending school.

In line with OPM’s mandate to oversee and coordinate all refugee matters in Uganda, the grant is being executed by OPM as part of offbudget support project. Under the responsibility of OPM a joint mechanism was designed with the KfW acting on behalf of the German Government to identify NGOs to implement projects addressing urgent basic needs, while supporting a long-term social and economic development of the region for both refugees and host communities.

On the 8th of December 2017, the RRF was launched by the Minister of State for Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees and representatives from the German Government and KfW.

Under the RRF, two NGOs were selected as implementing partners:

Save the Children implements a project “Enhancing education infrastructure for South Sudanese Refugees in Bidibidi & the Host Community”. The measures aim at increasing access to quality learning spaces and learning opportunities for approx. 25,000 children by providing schools with additional classrooms. Through the Accelerated Learning Programmes (ALP), children who had not been at school for a long time were successfully reintegrated into the education system. To date, the RRF provided 63 primary school classrooms for 5229 pupils 105 latrine stances for 5,250 pupils and 10 teacher housing units. 1,301 pupils have been enrolled in Accelerated Learning Programs since the project was launched of which 849 (64%) have been reintegrated into mainstream learning.

OXFAM was commissioned with a project “To scale up sustainable domestic water supply and sanitation service infrastructure in Rhino Settlement”. This was to be achieved by drilling high-yielding boreholes and extending distribution infrastructure for drinking water for 45,000 people. The hygiene and sanitation situation for 13,250 people has been improved by providing drainable latrines in schools and health centres

The improvement of the infrastructure delivered by the RRF has been accompanied by capacity building to ensure long term operations and maintenance. Specifically, seven Health Management Committees, 20 Sanitation Clubs, 40 Village Health Teams, 20 School Management 3 Committees, 16 Water User Committees, two Water Boards and 12 kiosk attendants have been trained. The governance structures of the 22 targeted schools have been strengthened through training of School Management Committees and Parent Teacher’s Associations while communities have been empowered in school governance.

The District Local Governments (DLGs), Ministries such as Ministry of Water and Environment, Ministry of Education and Sports and Ministry of Works and Transport supported the projects in designs, reviews, approvals and technical supervision, while UNHCR and other development partners have been consulted.

The GoU as part of its generous refugee policy has contributed both monetary and in-kind resources in form of land, shared existing infrastructure such as health and school facilities, human resources and among others.

Over the years, the Government of Germany has been a reliable and mutual partner in the refugee response in the region and in Uganda in particular. Through its development agencies KfW and GIZ financial and technical support has been provided to support the refugee response in Uganda. The CRRF process is firmly taking shape with the drafting of the sector specific refugee response plans in the country.

The German Ambassador, H.E. Mathias Schauer, in his speech at the commissioning highlighted that “the German Government remains committed to assisting both refugees and their hosting communities in the future”. The Ugandan policies of providing for free movement of refugees in the entire country, allocation of a piece of land, and – currently – providing even Covid vaccination for refugees is impressive. However, many challenges remain. The refugee response plans still need to be implemented and we need to see their positive results. We have to find ways to do more with less. Let´s work together in creating innovative ways for our joint future life and work.”

The Minister for Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees, Eng. Hilary Onek stressed that, the Government of Uganda under the visionary leadership of His Excellency President Yoweri Kaguta 4 Museveni, Uganda has enjoyed peace and stability for all citizens and visitors. “Our neighbours have been entangled in unending conflicts but found solace in Uganda as their second home. The political leadership and citizens of Uganda will continue harbouring refugees, but shall also call upon the International Community to share with Uganda the burden associated with hosting of refugees. Appreciation goes to the Germany Government and its Citizens that have contributed towards the Refugee Response Fund through KfW and the two partners; Save the Children and OXFAM that have implemented the projects on behalf of OPM. We look forward for further cooperation