Refugees in Adjumani embrace cassava growing

(Last Updated On: 15 July 2023)

There are approximately 236,000 refugees settled in 19 facilities spread across Adjumani, according to UNHCR.

Adjumani, November 29, 2022: Refugee women from Maaji refugee settlement, Ukusijoni sub-county, Adjumani district together with members of the host community have engaged in communal cassava production to boost nutrition and end food insecurity.

After the reduction in the food ratio by the World Food Program (WFP), many refugees who did not have access to land have been renting land from the nationals to supplement the small food ratio they have been receiving.

Amid surging humanitarian needs for 96,000 refugees who have fled to Uganda so far this year, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and partners urgently require US$68 million for life-saving assistance and services.

As refugees from South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) continue to flee violence and seek safety in Uganda, the humanitarian response is being stretched to breaking point.

By the end of August 2022, UNHCR had received just 38 per cent of its 2022 funding requirement of US$343.4 million to respond to the needs of refugees in Uganda, as determined at the start of this year.

The funding gap has strained UNHCR’s capacity to provide critical support, including basic humanitarian assistance, child protection services, civil registration, and livelihood opportunities.

There are approximately 236,000 refugees settled in 19 facilities spread across Adjumani, according to UNHCR.

Ms. Regina Yangi, 51, is a refugee from the Maaji III refugee settlement who fled South Sudan in 2016. She said for close to five years she did not have access to land but she has been renting expensively.

Yangi said she is beginning to see hope after engaging in a communal cassava growing project supported by a non-governmental organization.

Yangi said after the intervention of the different NGOs with the concept of communal farming that brings together refugees and host communities, access to land and the relationship with the host communities has improved and she has stopped renting land.

Yangi stated that she joined the Hadia Farmers group which is supported by the Alliance Forum for Development (AFOD) Uganda last year and she is now hopeful of getting food and money next year.

“We have done some market research, from the cassava and the cassava stocks next year, we estimate to get close to Shs90m, this will help us expand and open more land,” Yangi said.

Ms. Dorothy Mesiku, the vice chairperson of the Hadia group who is a national said even as nationals they have challenges with food and sometimes they have a meal in a day, adding that the project will help them improve food security.

“Buying food in the market has been very expensive for us the nationals right from the time refugees started getting cash instead of food,” Mesiku said

AFOD as the implementing partner

The Alliance Forum for Development (AFOD) Uganda with funding from the World Food Program is implementing the four years project under general food assistance to refugees and host communities to supplement the little food given to them.

Ms. Oliga Itudria, the livelihood project officer of AFOD said through collaboration with the production department of the district due to the high prevalence of cassava diseases since 2015, research into a resistant variety of cassava has been going on.

“To reduce the impact of the cassava diseases, AFOD in partnership with the District Production department work hand in hand to promote adoption of tolerant cassava varieties,” Itudria said.

Itudria added that from next year, they will embark on training the farmers to use the best farming practices for small-scale farmers.

AFOD entered an agreement with the landlords who then offered land for the group farming, Mr. Justo Guma, one of the landlords who offered the land for communal farming, confirmed that he has more than 100 acres which have been underutilized since the time of creation.

The group members as a sign of appreciation planted 2 acres of trees for the landlord and for the remaining 8 acres they planted cassavas.

Guma expressed gratitude to the group members and AFOD for planting for him the 2 acres of trees saying the tree is now his benefit and is willing to give more land if they can put it to better use.

Similar interventions

In other similar interventions to end malnutrition among refugees and host community in Adjumani district between children below 5 years, landlords from the sub-counties of Dzaipi and Ukusijoni through Action Against Hunger have donated 3000 acres of land for communal farming to be shared by refugees and host communities to scale up production of nutritious food crops.

The Right to Grow project under Action Against Hunger (ACF) the five years project aimed at reducing stunting among children below the age of 5 years.

Under the project, they are encouraging refugees’ optimum land use model where refugees grow nutritious food crops in the small plots of land allocated to them in the settlement.

The goodwill by the lower local government.

The Ukusijoni sub-county local council 3 chairperson Mr. Dominic Arambe said as authorities of the area, they are willing to offer more land for similar projects that are aimed at ending hunger among the refugees and host communities.

“Since the majority of the members are women, I would like to appeal to UNHCR to support the efforts of this group so that food insecurity can be addressed and the government’s vision of creating wealth can be achieved even among the refugees,” Arambe stated.

Arambe said, “Under the parish development model, we shall ensure more land is availed for communal farming and ensure PDM is successful.”

World Food Program the founder of the project

The Business Support Assistance officer of the World Food Program Mr. Geroge Oket observed that the intervention is to improve the food systems.

In very many situations foods have been rejected because of poor quality and poor handling, especially the issues of Aflatoxin.

“There is still a long way to go, we need to train our farmers on post-harvest management, we need to train them on food safety and quality so that what they produce is good for human consumption and attracts better markets,” Okot stated.

Government’s earlier efforts

In 2016, Uganda offered to pilot the comprehensive refugee response framework (CRRF) to support protection policy and protect asylum space, supporting resilience, and self-reliance of refugees and host communities.

In November 2020, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) launched Uganda’s first commercial farm for refugees and host communities at Aliwara Village in Mungula parish in Itirikwa sub-county Adjumani district.

 This followed a memorandum of understanding between the refugees and host communities in June 2020 in which they agreed to engage in commercial maize production for seven years on the 2,000-acre piece of land. 

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