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Refugee Host Districts Happy With DRDIP Impact

“It is our desire as government, to ensure that hosting of refugees becomes a blessing not a burden to the country generally and the host communities in particular," Gen Ali said. "Uganda currently hosts the largest number of refugees in Africa and the third largest in the world. In Adjumani and Obongi districts the refugee population is bigger than the population of the host communities.
Minister for Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees Mr Hilary Obaloker Onek commission two classroom blocks at Palabek Ogili Secondary School. PHOTO BY JOSEPH NYEKO

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The local leaders in refugee hosting districts have lauded the government on effective implementation of Development Response to Displacement Impacts Project (DRDIP) in their districts.

DRDIP is a project focusing on addressing the impacts of the protracted presence of refugees on the hosting communities witch aims at improving access to basic social services in the area of health, education, water and sanitation as well as to expand economic opportunities and enhance environmental management for refugee host district communities and settlements.

It is currently being implemented in 15 Refugee hosting districts of Arua, Koboko, Yumbe, Moyo, Adjumani, Obongi, Madi-Okollo, Terego, Lamwo, Hoima Kikuube, Kiryandongo, Isingiro, Kyegegwa and Kamwenge.

The Vice Chairperson Lamwo District Ms Dooren Lakomekec said the project has helped improved service delivery in the district saying their district had failed to meet the demand of services by both the locals and refugees.

“There was a time when our schools couldn’t accommodate both the nationals and refugees seeking to study in the school and so the construction of more classroom boards came timely,” Ms Lakomekec said 

She adds that to date they still experience a number of challenges especially in gaps of teachers in schools, health centers yet they serve both the refugees and nationals.

According to First Deputy Prime Minister Gen Moses Ali, the presence of refugees in Uganda has increased pressure on services something that DRDIP project has mitigated with its intervention.

“It is our desire as government, to ensure that hosting of refugees becomes a blessing not a burden to the country generally and the host communities in particular," Gen Ali said. "In that way, we shall assure asylum space for refugees in Uganda while at the same time we are protecting nationals and community interests.”

Gen Ali added that Uganda currently hosts the largest number of refugees in Africa and the third largest in the world.  In Adjumani and Obongi districts the refugee population is bigger than the population of the host communities.

While commissioning of the staff houses constructed in Palabek Health Center IV, Palabek Secondary School, Minister for Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees Engineer Hilary Obaloker Onek said the country has continued to receive since the opening of its border.

“Since we opened borders previously closed due to Covid 19, there has been influx of refugees from South Sudan and DRC Congo into Uganda and this is presenting new challenges onto what we already have,” Eng Onek said.

He adds that the refugee influx has inevitably stretched the capacity of local governments in delivering services something that has increasing pressure on government to borrow money from developed countries.

“This hospitality in hosting refugees has come with big costs to our communities. the only health center III in Palabek is serving over 150,000 population due to the present of refugees in the district and this overwhelming for a health center," Eng Onek said. "We believe DRDIP will help to bridge the gap and empower the health centers to be in position of handle the population influx.”

Mr Geoffrey Nyeko LC3 Chairperson Palabek Kal Sub County said the presence of refugees has inserted pressure on other infrastructure like roads including on other government service delivery mechanism generally.

“The connection between all these service points like schools, health centers among others should also be improved because most of our roads are in a sorry state because of influx of NGOs supporting refugees,” Mr Nyeko said.

The Director DRDIP Mr Alfred Odera said the government has received additional USD 150 Million grant from World Bank to further fund DRDIP project, something that will be channeled to improve housing facilities in schools and health centers in refugees hosting district.

“We have acquired additional grants worth USD 150 Million on top of the credit worth USD 50 million which we have exhausted in all the districts hosting refugees," Mr Odera. "We shall share these funds in a ratio of 70 percent for host communities and 30 percent for the refugees respectively, thus we expect services to greatly improve in the areas the project has supported.”

Mr Odera added: “We have been able to construct houses in Etia Primary School, Palabek Health Center III, Mungula Health Center, Palabek Ogili Secondary school and have commenced the construction of classrooms and teachers’ quarter in Palabek Secondary School.”

He however urged the district to make deliberate efforts to maintain the facilities besides keeping them operational with full functionality.