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Bidi Bidi Refugees Struggle to Access Farmlands as Food Aid Cut Bites

The refugees say that the cut in food aid ration to them by the World Food Program -WFP in April has negatively impacted their livelihoods and left most of them helplessly surviving on one meal a day. The WFP in April 2020 announced a 30% reduction in the relief food ration it distributes to refugees and asylum seekers, in Uganda. It also warned that further cuts could follow.
Distribution of food ration to the refugees in Bidi bidi settlement. Photo by Jacqueline Adure

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South Sudan refugees in Bidi-bidi settlements in Yumbe district are struggling to access farmlands as demand for food rises among them.

The refugees say that the cut in their food aid ration by the World Food Program -WFP in April has negatively impacted their livelihoods and left most of them helplessly surviving on one meal a day.  

The WFP in April 2020 announced a 30% reduction in the relief food ration it distributes to refugees and asylum seekers, in Uganda. It also warned that further cuts could follow.

This has caused panic in Bidibidi settlement situated North West of Uganda which is host to over 270,000 South Sudan refugees who fled the civil war in their home country.

  

Initially the refugees would wait for enough free food to be distributed, but now most of them have been forced into planting food crops like cassava, sorghum, maize and vegetables as alternative means of feeding themselves and to supplement the reduced food ration.   

The refugees told URN that the most challenging problem they face right now is access to and acquisition of the farmlands which are owned by the host communities.  

 

Charity Ate, 32, a refugee in Bidibidi settlement and a mother of four told URN that she is struggling to feed her household on the reduced food ration.  

She had opted to farming at a neighborhood in the settlement but her efforts are being frustrated due to the lack of land.

  

Refugees with support from United Nations High Commission for Refugees -UNHCR, through World Food Programme currently receive 15 kgs of maize, 3.6 kgs of beans, 1.08kgs of vegetable oil and 0.18kg of salt per person after every two months.

Morris Marsuk, a refugee and also the Chairperson Village 4, Zone 3 in Bidibidi refugee settlement says that the refugees are vulnerable and lack the power to negotiate for themselves and permanently acquire farmlands.

 

Jackline Ayeju, a refugee and Vice Chairperson of Village 4, Zone 3 in Bidibidi refugee settlement believes that the majority of the refugee households will face acute starvation now that they only have a single and inadequate source of food to depend on. 

//Cue in: ‘’these people in…  

Cue out: …away their land.’’//  

Diana Saida, the secretary nutrition and health in the Refugee Welfare Committees lll -RWC3, pleads with concerned stakeholders to ask the host community to offer lands for the refugees in order to save the situation.

  

She worries for the most vulnerable people like children, pregnant and lactating mothers who she says are at great risks of hunger and malnutrition. 

 

She believes that with support from stakeholders, refugees can improve their livelihoods by acquiring farmlands to supplement on the food given by relief aid agencies.

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