Supporting food production in a Ugandan refugee settlement
Rodrigue Vinet – Senior Advisor Programme Development & Humanitarian Affairs
Sally James – Forced Migration and Protracted Crisis Specialist
Report on the project available here
Introduction to the project
FAO, in collaboration with resource and implementing partners, provides support for the widespread production, preservation and consumption of high nutrient value foods in refugee settlements in northern and mid-western Uganda. It provides planting materials and inputs for small-scale vegetable, staple food and poultry production, along with training in entrepreneurship and animal husbandry practices.
The project’s aim is to improve the food, nutrition and income security of both refugees and host communities.
Main activities of the Good Practice
All interventions within the settlements used the same approach of providing refugee households with vegetable and staple crop seeds along with support in production and preservation techniques. These activities were complemented by poultry rearing and the construction and use of energy saving stoves.
- Training of community resource persons in relevant agronomic, animal husbandry and conservation practices: Community-based extension workers and trainers of trainees (ToTs) were identified among the refugees and trained by the District Production Department for the day-to-day follow-up and monitoring of livelihood activities within the settlements.
- Training of beneficiaries:
- Basic agronomic practices of selected crops, including dry season vegetable production (e.g. cassava multiplication and production); post-harvest handling and storage; poultry production and management.
- Micro-irrigation and maintenance.
- Nutrition education for diversified food production, preparation and consumption, as well as hygiene, handling and storage.
- Production of fuel efficient stoves that use less firewood, as well as production of charcoal from household waste.
District officials continue to supervise, monitor and train the trainers of trainees (ToTs). The same ToTs are also training other beneficiaries, thereby maintaining a constant flow of capacity and skill development. Working with local non-governmental organization partners ensures that the knowledge of improved farming practices will remain within the communities after the project. This enables FAOs good practice to make a sustained, positive difference in the lives of refugees and host communities.
- Danish Refugee Council (DRC)
- Lutheran World Federation (LWF)
- Agency for Accelerated Regional Development (AFARD)
- District Local Governments of Adjumani, Arua, Kiryandongo, Lamwo, Moyo and Yumbe
- Office of the Prime Minister (Department of Refugees/OPM)
- Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF)
- European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO)
- Belgium Special Fund for Emergency and Rehabilitation Activities (SFERA-CRIA)
- Government of Sweden
How challenges were overcome
During implementation, the following constraints posed additional challenges:
• In a context of climate change and natural hazards, the low-lying areas in some settlements, especially those with poor, sandy soils, are predisposed to long dry spells and occasional floods, which affect crop production.
• The agricultural calendar does not always coincide with the refugees’ arrivals or funding cycles. The number of refugees increases daily. This affects planning, resulting in chaos, especially at input distribution points.
• Many refugees cross the borders through illegal border points, entering with unauthorized livestock. This affects planning and increases the risk of transboundary animal diseases.
Taking advantage of the fact that the first rainy season of the year is expected to begin in early March, FAO’s strategy is to support refugee households by providing assorted seeds of quick maturing crops suitable for the location. In addition, capacity building on bio-intensive production techniques enables the beneficiaries to maximize their productivity in a more sustainable manner.
Results of the Good Practice
- FAO provided agricultural inputs and training to 8,000 households.
- The produce harvested from the small-scale production interventions improved the food security of refugees and boosted their nutrition levels.
- Refugees and host communities were able to earn income by selling their surplus agricultural production. In addition, some household were able to purchase productive assets (goats, chickens and cattle).
- Market access ultimately improved for both refugees and host communities.
- Better conservation practices were adopted through training, helping to reduce environmental degradation.
- Thanks to conservation practices, the need to walk long distances in search of fuel wood was reduced, decreasing gender-based violence.
- Reinforced social cohesion: The production of staple food crops by the host community made food available for purchase within the settlements, generating income and improving the local economy.
- Although the project’s goal was to supplement immediate household food needs, the beneficiaries acquired skills that can be of great value once they return to South Sudan (such basic agronomic practices, micro-irrigation, nutrition education, production of fuel-efficient stoves).