1,020 semi-permanent shelters were constructed for vulnerable refugees under the project

EU Humanitarian Aid project benefits 350,000 refugees and hosts in Uganda

An EU Humanitarian Aid funded project led by the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) in Uganda comes to an end this December having benefitted 350,000 refugees and members of the host community.


The 20-month project — a consortium — is funded by the European Union Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid (ECHO).

The consortium comprises of DRC, Lutheran World Federation (LWF), Windle International Uganda and REACH Initiatives.

Implementation of activities began in May 2017 with the aim of providing sustainable water and sanitation, shelter, livelihoods and protection services to South Sudanese refugees and their hosts.

”The expertise and experiences of the partners in the consortium enabled the timely delivery of vital and critically needed assistance to beneficiaries,” said Anders Bastholm Hansen, DRC Uganda’s Programme Quality Assurance Manager.

There are more than one million South Sudanese refugees in Uganda, according to the government and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR.

December 15, marks five years since conflict broke out in South Sudan in December 2013, consequently leading to the 2016 and 2017 refugee influx in Uganda.

The South Sudanese refugees live in settlements in northern Uganda where poverty levels are high and basic services wanting.

”Through the EU funded intervention, the consortium has been able to provide clean water to refugees and their hosts and offer livelihoods and education services,” said Grazia Paoleri, Consortium Manager.”All in all, the project has benefitted 350,000 people,” added Paoleri.

Clean water & improved sanitation

Before the intervention, 54% of water in Rhino Camp, one of the largest settlements, was trucked. In Palorinya, another settlement had 60% of its water trucked. Water trucking is not only expensive but also unsustainable. By December 2018, water trucking was eradicated in Palorinya and reduced to 37.8% in Rhino Camp due to construction of nine motorized systems powered by a combination of solar and diesel.  The systems have brought water sources closer to homes, reducing on distances walked by females in search of water for home use.

”Clean water is now much closer to us than when we first came. Our women no longer walk long distances to look for water,” said Jamis Benn, 34.

Besides provision of clean water, sanitation and hygiene has improved. For example, only 26% of Rhino Camp, 8.2 % of Palorinya and an average of 51% in Adjumani (Pagirinya, Agojo, Maaji II and III) had access to safe and clean sanitation facilities, posing a risk of outbreak of life-threatening diseases. This situation has however now improved due to construction of 28,000 household latrines and increased hygiene awareness.

“When I came from South Sudan, I found there was no communal latrines and all-around was full of faeces. Dysentery, diarrhea and stomach pain was common,” said Viola Tabu, 35. ”But this has now changed with the construction of latrines and people learning about the importance of handwashing after using the toilet,” Tabu said.

The EU funded project also supported construction the of 20 latrines with 5 stances in 11 schools, benefiting 3,000 pupils.

Improved livelihoods

The project improved the livelihoods of the refugees and their hosts through functional adult literacy (FAL) classes which equipped 668 beneficiaries with basic literacy and numeracy skills.

In addition, 1,020 Persons with Special Needs (PSN) households received the multi-purpose unconditional cash transfer (UCT) to cover their basic needs while 104 Income Generating Group (IGA) each receiving between six to ten million shilling as startup capital for their businesses.

”We received a startup capital of 10 million shilling from DRC and bought a grinding mill,” said Jackson Moranita whose group in Rhino camp comprises of refugees and members of the host community. ”Income from the grinding meal is supporting our family to buy food”.

Eriminia Keji of Majji II refugee settlement borrowed a 1.2 million from her group and set up a secretarial service where she scans documents, produces identity cards and passport pictures. ”I earn between 70,000-100,000 shillings per week,” Keji said.

Shelter for the vulnerable

In displacement situations, the vulnerable are often too weak to build shelters on their own. Under the project 1,020 semi-permanent shelters were built for vulnerable refugees—the elderly, the disabled and child-headed households.

“The rain used to pour through the [straw] roof in my old house,” said Monica Wenzu of Rhino Camp in Arua district.

Vulnerable pupils supported in school

School going children make a sizeable number of the refugee population in Uganda. Offering the children, a chance to go to school contributes to them having a bright future. Project supported 1,360 pupils in 63 schools with uniforms and school bags; trained 762 teachers in 63 schools in the provision of psychosocial support to pupils and strengthened 126 Parents and Teachers Association (PTA) and School Management Committee (SMC) in schools in refugee settlements.

”In South Sudan I could not go to school because of war. In Uganda I am going to school. My dream is to become a lawyer”, said Evelyn Taban, a primary pupil.

The services offered by the consortium to the refugees and their hosts was informed by assessments and mappings conducted by REACH Initiatives, a partner in the consortium. The services offered has supported peaceful coexistence between the refugees and hosts.