The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has welcomed a contribution of Shs 11.9 trillion (EUR 3 million) from the European Union (EU) to provide cash transfers for 780,000 refugees in Uganda. This funding is in addition to an earlier contribution of Shs 17.9 (EUR 4.5 million).
WFP uses cash transfers to empower people with choice to address their essential needs by purchasing goods from the local markets, while also helping to boost these markets.More than 50 percent of WFP’s assistance to refugees in Uganda is provided in the form of cash transfers.
“The top-up from the EU comes at a time when we need it most. With influxes of new refugees, unpredictable weather, and other shocks such as Covid-19, refugees are now, more than ever, in need of assistance to enable them to progress towards self-reliance. These additional funds will enable WFP to continue providing much-needed food assistance to refugees and we call upon more donors to fund Uganda’s refugee response,” said Abdirahman Meygag, WFP Representative and Country Director in Uganda.
Despite this additional funding, WFP is still not able to provide full assistance to meet the minimum food requirements for refugees. In October 2021, WFP introduced a geographical prioritisation scheme – a system under which refugees are given rations according to the levels of vulnerability in the different settlements. Under this scheme, refugees in the most vulnerable geographic locations saw their rations increase from 60 percent to 70 percent. Settlements facing medium vulnerability had their rations maintained at 60 percent while the relatively less vulnerable settlements saw their rations reduced to 40 percent.
WFP’s analysis shows that ration reductions force refugees to spend a large share of their income on food to bridge the gap. The percentage of refugees with a high expenditure on food increased from 55 percent in 2020 to 60 percent in 2021.
High expenditure on food reflects high economic stress. The 2021 Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) categorised all refugee settlements in Uganda as facing crisis levels of food insecurity.
“Without this additional support from the EU, refugees who are already facing numerous challenges would be at even greater risk of hunger. Supporting refugees is an international legal obligation that we must work together to fulfil,” said Meygag.
Uganda has one of the most progressive refugee policies in the world, providing refugees with land, allowing them to work and access basics such as education and health services. WFP supports 1.3 million of the more than 1.5 million refugees that are hosted in Uganda.
“This crucial support affirms the European Union’s commitment to continue supporting Uganda to strengthen resilience among vulnerable refugees. We continue to laud Uganda for the remarkable commitment to helping those affected by crises and believe this progressive response should be provided with all the necessary support,” said Ambassador Attilio Pacifici, European Union Head of Delegation in Uganda.
WFP requires US$222.84 million to provide full rations to all registered refugees living in settlements in Uganda until December 2022. At present, even with ration adjustments, WFP has a shortfall of US$80.8 million for the next six months.