Rekindled dream:  Amref Health Africa boosts Refugees and Host communities with Resilience and Self -Reliance skills

With a long history of hosting refugees and asylum seekers since 1959, Uganda is currently Africa’s largest refugee hosting country with a diverse refugee population of over 1,500,000 million that covers about 10 nationalities.  In 2006, the Parliament of Uganda passed the Refugee Act 2006, followed by its 2010 Regulations. Consistent with the Refugee convention and protocol, Uganda’s legal framework avails refugees access to key rights and social services on par with nationals including unrestricted access to land, markets, health and education services.

The refugee Act unquestionably constitutes the most progressive refugee law in Africa which has enabled the Uganda settlement approach, a progressive protection model where refugees are welcomed, registered, allocated land and provided with documents in record time.

In 2018 the confirmed number of settlements were 30 spread out in 12 districts including Adjumani District where Amref Health Africa with funding from the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) is implementing a Resilient migrant and host community in Africa (RMAHCA) project.

The project strengthens the capacity and resilience of small-scale farmers, in particular women and youth groups to improve the nutrition and health situation for South Sudanese refugees and host communities in Adjumani and the conflict-affected population in Marida & Ibba (SSD). This project supports six farmer field schools and fifteen Mother To Mother support groups each comprising of 15 members.

The Farmer field school is an innovative, participatory and interactive learning approach utilized by the school children, teachers and community members for purposes of learning proper farming methods and farming trends that will boost the school feeding program but also the community nutrition levels in their homes.

Meet Ambayo Godwin–- Hope is the only bee that makes honey without flowers.

My name is Ambayo Godwin, a 32 year old South Sudan refugee.  My dream was to study and become a lawyer because lawyers in our country are very rich people (he smiled). I was hoping to become rich and support the people in my community because poverty is a lot where I come from. Unfortunately, the war which broke out in 2014 in South Sudan cut short the dream that I had. We had to flee the country to save life. I fled to Uganda with part of my family which survived. We were settled in Pagirinya refugee settlement in Adjumani district. Life was not very easy but we had to survive. Since I had acquired some education while in South Sudan, when I settled in Uganda, I went and trained to become a teacher: change of dreams (he joked). After my training I got a job as a teacher and that’s how I ended up here today.

In January 2021, Amref came to our school (St. Luke primary school) and informed us that they had a new project with funding from BMZ and they were to establish a farmer field school within our school premises and this was to be a learning center for the entire community of Nyumanzi refugee settlement. Amref provided the logistics required and the farmer field school was established. We then set up a farmer field school management committee to preside over the activities of the farmer field school.  We then enrolled for training on agriculture and enterprise management, with a major emphasis on diversified vegetable production (Sukuma wiki, eggplant, amaranths, onions, tomatoes, and many more) and poultry. We are now implementing what we learnt. Amref has partnered with the district and that partnership has supported us with technical staff who provide guidance and monitor our establishment of horticulture and poultry farming.

Boosting Nutritional values for Refugees

To supplement on the food rations we receive from the World Food Programme (WFP), we consume some of the vegetables , eggs and chicken from our project at home and sell off others to the communities.  With the income we earn we are able to buy other basic needs for domestic use.   The training we received from Amref has given me great ideas and a  lucrative business. For the first time in my whole life I held a million Uganda shillings which we had earned as the farmer field school.  I was motivated because I  realized it was money got from  something I personally participated in, and my hope was raised that  one day I would make that kind money and    more if I mastered the skills and started my own  project.  

The community of Nyumanzi is learning a lot from these initiatives and they continue to utilize the farmer field school for skills training. 16 people enrolled at the farmer field school in 2021.To date 49 refugees and 24 host community members and more that 800 pupils from St. Luke primary school enrolled for the training and benefited from the farmer field school approach. The knowledge we have gained will be for us to own forever no matter which country we reside in.

Thanks to Amref for shaping my destiny and that of many refugees in Adjumani district.                                                                

Authors – Tadius Tumwesige – Project Manager & Ronald Kateregga – Project Officer, RMAHCA