Building resilience in Northern Uganda

Resilience to climatic shocks and stresses is an essential concept for DRC because it touches the lives of displaced communities in all possible phases of displacement situations, during an acute crisis, during shorter or longer displacement and also when solutions are found to a displacement situation.


Extreme weather events such as floods and drought can trigger displacement and conflict with immediate, visible consequences. But helping communities be more resilient and absorb shocks also means that they are more self-reliant and less dependent on humanitarian assistance, which is very important for long term, durable solutions.

In addition, the presence of a large displaced community in a given area can sometimes be a strain on resources and we need to ensure resources such as water are optimised.

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Over 85 percent of Northern Uganda’s rural population rely on farming for livelihoods. Soil erosion and extreme weather patterns therefore constitute a direct threat to communities’ resilience, which can be prevented and mitigated by nature-based solutions enhancing agro-ecosystems.

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This was the very objective of the resilience-design training of trainers developed and implemented by the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) in the Northern Uganda district of Nebbi as part of the DANIDA-funded Northern Uganda Resilience Initiative (NURI). NURI aims to contribute to poverty reduction through inclusive and sustainable economic growth, promoting democracy, good governance and human rights while supporting Uganda’s stabilising role in the region. 

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The training aimed to buffer communities from extreme weather events by using the principles of permaculture to build resilience. After a 2-day theory training, the 52 participants – including 11 government engineers – worked with the community to redesign individual homes, farms and landscapes using natural contours and create pathways channeling flood water into the soil. Doing so, rain water will no longer flood farms and damage infrastructure but instead fill dams and contribute to the hydration of the agro-ecosystem.

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“Resilience design is about slowing, spreading, and sinking water into the ground so that the ground can receive the rain and become something life giving. The benefits include the ability to grow more, the possibility to plant for longer during the year, the creation of a buffer from extreme temperatures and the ability to  create an environment that is drought proof,“ says Warren Brush, Resilience Design Consultant.

The Nebbi community is now at the forefront of an innovative process and design that will not only see them address extreme weather patterns but also rehabilitate degraded land and restore its ecology and biodiversity. 

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“I want to thank NURI for this intervention. This is a project which the district was unable to take on due to financial constraints. Our community will benefit because a lot of rain water floods our gardens and farms destroying crops. This kind of drainage installed, that directs water to the dam will stop the recurring problem,” says Gabriel Ocibre, Local Counselor, Nebbi district.