Refugees in Ofua settlement turn to agriculture for survival

The refugees of Ofua settlement, an extension of Rhino camp in Terego district have found ways of sustaining their livelihood through farming.

The food rations for the refugees reduced by 50 percent at the onset of the COVID19 pandemic forcing the refugees to find alternatives.

GIZ this week distributed goats to refugee groups to boost their livelihoods.

Terego district is hosting 168,000 refugees and 210,000 host communities who solely depend on land for agricultural purposes.

Tobacco was known as the main cash crop in the area, but currently, many refugees and host communities have changed the narrative by embracing food crop farming.

An 18-year-old refugee Harriet Dawa, a treasurer of Salome youth farmers group had challenges fending for her siblings and other relatives that would depend on the food rations.

This prompted her to join the Salome farmers group where they started a mixed farming project of crop growing and livestock rearing.

GIZ through the response to increased demand on government service and creation of economic opportunities in Uganda, RISE Project boosted them with livestock, farm inputs which include seedlings and hoes.

They were also trained in good agronomic practices, farming as a business, marketing agricultural products, and financial literacy among others.

The project manager, GIZ Patrick Poehmann said the objective is to equally increase the income of the refugees and the host communities especially youth and single women.

He said the beneficiaries are from the five West Nile districts of  Adjumani, Moyo, Obongi, Madi Okollo and Terego districts.

Poehmann said the groups are registered as Village savings and loan associations, VSLA which fosters group cohesion and mobilises financial means for agricultural investments.

The head of the German development corporation, Iris Knabe appreciated the government’s open-door policy of welcoming refugees and other migrants in the country.

She said they would not tire their efforts of supporting both refugees and host communities equally for economic inclusion.

“We don’t know the situation you undergo as refugees, but we know that it is not easy living in a foreign country and for the host communities surrendering land for the refugees therefore we will continue to support you”, she said.

She added that there is a need to foster economic inclusion by engaging all stakeholders including service providers, district local governments, and development partners among others.

She said the project had benefitted more than 5000 beneficiaries.

The state minister of local government Jenipher Namuyangu hailed the equal apportioning of livelihood programs to the refugees and host communities.

“The host communities are the first respondents in terms of receiving and interacting with refugees, sharing their space and natural resources as well as existing basic and social services”, she said.

She added that the 50-50 approach is of great importance as it fosters economic independence for both the refugees and host communities.

She asked other partners to emulate the approach due to the element of unity that it portrays thus reducing conflicts.

Namuyangu also implored the district local governments and partners to empower the communities in promoting sustainable development through climate adaptation due to the negative climatic change patterns.

About the distributed goats by GIZ, she encouraged the two communities to take care of the goats and other production inputs to increase their income, fight poverty at household levels, and become self-reliant.

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