Refugees empowered to produce more food

By Jurugo Emmanuel Ogasto

The refugees and host communities in Rhino Camp Uganda have received empowerment to produce more food in order to supplement little food ratios offered by UN refugee agency.

The program is supported by ACAV, a humanitarian organization operating in the refugee West Nile region Uganda.

The two-year project that commenced in 2019 and ended in 2020 focused on the production of beans and cassava with technical support from National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO).

Speaking during the end of the project at Yoro base camp over last week, beneficiaries revealed that they usually sell part of the harvest to buy other necessities so as to supplement the food given by WFP.

Ms Suzan Tabu and Mr. Michael Duku, both refugees from Ofua zone were some of the beneficiaries of the project.

“On hearing that our food ration was reduced, the farming project brought by ACAV helped me to raise my own food from the garden and when the food provided by WFP gets finished, I normally supplement it with what I have harvested from the field as a family,” Duku said.

Tabu stressed that, “When ACAV supplied us the cassava cuttings, I planted them and later harvested the cassava and beans for consumption. I sold some for-school fees and clothing. We need more of such projects. Right now, I don’t feel like going back to South Sudan because I enjoy staying here.”

At the inception of the project in 2019, refugees had no land to practice their agriculture especially growing cassava and beans.

This prompted them to fall into agreement with landlords to rent land for an agreed period of time so that they plant their crops.

Refugee Welfare Council Chairperson for Rhino camp settlement, Mr. Martin Wafula attributed the success of the project to the freedom of expression the government of Uganda has given refugees through the office of the Prime Minister and demanded for more such projects to continue.

Mr. Patrick Bongo Namisi, the head of programs at ACAV noted that the organization has established a demonstration farm for beans and cassava.

“This intervention has come at a time when Covid-19 and food ratios cut have impacted so much on the livelihood of refugees and the host communities in the West Nile region. And in a way, the project helps them to navigate through the situation of Covid -19 and food ration cuts by improving on the food security situation,” Mr Bongo said.

The assistant settlement commandant for Rhino camp refugee settlement, Mr Jonathan Matata said the project ACAV has implemented in collaboration with Abizardi (NARO) at Rhino Camp has complemented the efforts of the government in catering for both the refugees and host communities.

MsEresKuteesa who represented National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO) during the meeting noted that their involvement in the project as scientists helped them to realize better service delivery to Ugandans and refugees in the agricultural sector.

The two-year project funded by Gerda Henkel Foundation from Germany targeted 450 refugees and host communities, a figure that ACAV surpassed after considering 709 refugees and host communities in Ofua Zone of Rhino Camp refugee settlement as beneficiaries.

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