By Julius Mugaga Tukacungurwa/ Umoja Standard.
ADJUMANI: With Refugees in Uganda trying to transition from handouts (food aid) to livelihood, they just like the host community have since fallen victims of climate change effects, in this cases, the floods!
In Adjumani, refugees are experiencing several hardships like; reduction in food ratios, reduction in cash handouts and categorization that rose as a result of transitioning from Food Aid Assistance to livelihood.
As refugees attempt to adjust to the shift from Food Aid Assistance to livelihoods, an act of God-floods have since October 2023 hit Dzaipi Sub County that have submerged their farmer fields and destroyed the food crops causing panic on food and nutrition security at household level having experience a prolonged dry spell in the 1st Planting Season of 2023.
Refugee Women are seen winow in the garden in Miniki Central Village in Dzaipi S/County due to scare of possible rains/Julius Mugaga Tukacungurwa.
The floods and the current rain is also contributing post-harvest wastage since farmers are unable to dry the foods naturally as harvested fresh food is kept in the polythene bags which may also result into aflatoxins due to poor drying.
With Humanitarian Aid and Donor priorities shifting to war-torn Palestine, Sudan, and Ukraine…etc questions whether more food aid will come through remain unanswered!
It should be noted that in 2020 during COVID-19 Lockdown, World Food Programme (WFP) cut food rations to more than 1.4million vulnerable refugees in Uganda citing insufficient funds thereby announcing a 30% reduction to the relief food it distributes to refugees and asylum seekers and warned of possible further cuts.
Moving on, these cuts were not revised which tickled Humanitarian Agencies to advise and help refugees to transition to livelihood.
While conducting a Roundtable Dialogue with Representatives of Refugees in Adjumani, Ms. Mariam Akiror, Advocacy and Strategic Partnership Coordinator at Action Against Hunger-ACF Uganda Country Office, an International global leader in the movement to end hunger for everyone for ones, said that they are running an Advocacy Campaign under the Right2Grow Project funded by the Dutch Government on Communal Production, Consumption and Marketing of Nutritious Food Crops to influence food and nutrition security at household level for improved Health, Nutrition, Resilience and self-reliance.
Ms. Mariam called upon Refugee Leaders and OPM to mobilise Refugees to leverage the Land donated by host community landlords for Agricultural production for their access to additional land for agricultural production beyond the 30 by 30 plot of land given to each refugee.
Ms. Mariam informed the Refugee Leaders would contribute to increased food and nutrition security at household level and enable refugees to become resilient and self-reliant.
A farmer in Dzaipi is seen showing nearly spoilt gnuts due absence of sunshine for drying to Ms. Mariam Akiror from Action Against Hunger & the Right2Grow Project Manager/Julius Mugaga Tukacungurwa.
Ms. Mariam informed, “We are also promoting climate change adaptation. You all know that in previous years, Adjumani would be terribly hot by now but you can see the floods in Dzaipi and in some of the places, you see the roads, the rivers are flooding, nature is coming for us because we have failed to live with other species, we are cutting trees, we are destroying the environment, you are burning charcoal and you are not planting trees, it will come for you, when we start building in wetlands and we don’t provide for proper drainage channels, am telling you one time, River Nile, Lake Victoria will come for us..”
“Climate Change Adaptation, requires us to live together in harmony with other species, with the water, with the forests, with our lakes, with our environment-the animals because we humans need some of those species for our own survival.”
‘As Refugees, you are contributing to Uganda’ Development Agenda. The government of Republic of Uganda and all other Non-State Actors are committed to Humanitarian Response and I applaud you for your valuable contribution and we want you to feel at home in Uganda your host country.’
She said that, ‘Right2Grow Project is here to help you build your capacities and give you knowledge to be able to work with Refugee Welfare Committees, OPM, Host community and other stakeholders to demand for basic services but also you to utilize them.’
“We need to come in terms with the reality of declining food Aid and be deliberate in embracing livelihood programmes and interventions. Action Against Hunger is committed to working with Refugee leaders to end hunger and malnutrition and you RWCs have a pivotal role in mobilising refugees to utilize all initiatives geared towards Food & Nutrition Security.” Mariam,
Marcelina Ojjaba, a refugee in Pagirinya Refugee Settlement Block C, Cluster 15, Adjumani District reveals that the food ratio from World Food Programme has reduced in that on several occasions, her family sleeps with a hungry stomach or at most eat one meal a day. She adds that they have small land for crop production and called upon their leaders to beg the host communities to donate land such that they can grow more food for sustainability.
Like Ojjaba, Lagu Joseph, the chairperson of Tanebu Farmers’ Group in Miniki Central Village in Dzaipi Sub County stresses that at first they were hit by drought and now there is a lot of rain that has washed away their crops. “We have harvested little which we have again planted in our garden, this year, food nsecurity is going to be high because of these floods. Most of the people here have resorted to charcoal burning as the only alternative for survival for taking children to school which cause climate change and animals are encroaching our gardens and destroy them. Lagu said.”
Dzaipi S/County Agriculture Officer shows destroyed crops to Ms. Mariam Akiror from Action Against Hunger & the Right2Grow Project Manager in one of the gardens in the area /Julius Mugaga Tukacungurwa.
He said that in Dzaipi Sub County, food production is a bit low due to recent floods and therefore there is a lot of food insecurity for both host and refugee communities. He added that they need to sensitize them on climate smart and nutrition sensitive agriculture for them to produce food throughout the year. As leaders, we implore local-host communities and refugees to have peaceful co-existence and to engage on producing vegetables and other nutritious foods which prevents malnutrion especially in children under five.
As a Farmer and Refugee Leader, I and my Farmer Group shall leverage the Right2Grow Project donated land for Block Farming. In 2022, my Farmer Group earned 112 Million UGX from Cassava Block Farming and we are very committed to both Subsistence and Block Farming for our livelihood and food and nutrition security at home level.
The United Nations High Commission for Refugees in July 2023 statistics, declared Uganda is hosting over 1,500,000 Refugees in 12 districts of East African Nation. The district of Adjumani ranks second in number of Refugees its hosting which currently stands at 212,000 population.