Northern Uganda: support for refugees and host communities

Project description

Title: Support for refugees and host communities in Northern Uganda
Commissioned by: Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Co-funded by: European Union
Country: Uganda
Lead executing agencyr: Ministry for Local Government
Overall term: 2018 to 2022



More than 1.2 million people are living in refugee settlements in Northern and South-Western Uganda. Most of these refugees, roughly a million of them, come from South Sudan. 82 per cent are women and children under the age of 18 – many of them are illiterate, and most are traumatised.

The refugees have mainly settled in the West Nile region in the north of the country. This region is still structurally disadvantaged due to the consequences of the civil war; private sector development is inadequate; few people work in the formal sector and the investment climate is unfavourable. The main source of income is agriculture, which employs over 70 per cent of the labour force. According to the Ugandan poverty report of 2016, the poverty rate in the West Nile and Mid-Northern regions is significantly higher than the national average. 

The local governments in Northern Uganda have so far made little headway in establishing a dialogue between regional economic stakeholders, providers of training courses, refugees and the local population in order to create jobs and thus promote inclusive socio-economic development. Despite the progressive and development-oriented framework that Uganda has set up for the integration of refugees, there are numerous weaknesses in its implementation. There are shortcomings in creating an enabling environment for the implementation of existing policies and strategies, particularly at regional and local level. A lack of human and financial capacities at local government level also leads to the inadequate provision of municipal services.


The socio-economic inclusion of refugees and local populations has increased in the Northern Uganda districts of Arua, Adjumani and Moyo. 



The project supports the District Local Governments (DLGs) in the social and economic integration of refugees. Project staff adapt administrative procedures and workflows to provide public services in line with integrated plans for local economic development, health and education. Public-private cooperation with companies, business associations and training institutions is also supported. 

Employment and income opportunities for refugees and the local population have also been improved. To this end, the project joins forces with the private sector to provide support for training facilities in developing and offering labour market-oriented vocational training and qualification measures in the craft trades and services sector. The project also trains employees to offer courses on starting a business and to support business start-ups. In addition, the project supports business start-ups by providing seed capital. The training measures help the target groups to acquire new vocational skills and to develop them during internships in the private sector.

The project also trains refugees and the local population, enabling them to increase their agricultural production. Learning groups will be set up and will be advised by the project on better practices and techniques during the cultivation period. The project supports access to agricultural land, capital and agricultural equipment. The use of digital applications is also planned to enable information and advice to be provided on an ongoing basis and to be adapted to specific needs.