Consolidated Appeal for Uganda 2008
One and a half years on from the start of the peace negotiations between the Government of Uganda and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), the humanitarian situation in northern Uganda continues to improve. By 30 September 2007, more than half of the 1.8 million northern Ugandans internally displaced at the start of 2005 had entered the return process, including half a million people who have completed the return and 400,000 who have made initial movements out of the camps.
In the Lango sub-region, where the bulk of the formerly displaced population who have returned to their villages of origin resides, the return process is expected to conclude by the end of 2007. In the Acholi sub-region, however, it is expected to continue past 2008, as movements out of the camps in Acholi have been slower due to several factors, including the longer duration of the conflict and camp life. The majority of Acholis who have left the camps have returned not to their villages of origin, but rather have settled in spontaneous transit sites from which they have better access to their own land for purposes of cultivation. In 2008, the expectation is that 35% of remaining internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the Acholi sub-region will complete the return, while 45% will be in transit and 20% will remain in camps.
This scenario underscores the need to ensure that an effective humanitarian response meets IDPs’ needs at all points of the return. With the goal of ensuring a seamless transition to recovery, neither humanitarian donors nor response organisations can afford to cease their support until the IDPs have completed the return process, whether through progressive movements from an IDP camp to transit site(s) to village of origin or by opting to remain in their present locations as these locations are transformed into viable communities. Thus, the humanitarian community faces a threefold challenge to ensure that adequate basic services are provided through all the phases of displacement: in camps, transit sites and return areas.
The attendant risks if this triple mandate is not fulfilled have been highlighted all too sharply in 2007 in the Lango sub-region, where increased rates of malnutrition and mortality overtook a displaced population returning to areas of origin in which there was no or little access to basic services, such as health care and water and sanitation, and insufficient food. To redress this phenomenon, the humanitarian and human rights community has agreed to shift operations in northern Uganda away from site-specific delivery of humanitarian assistance, modelling the response instead on a community-based Parish Approach that prioritises rehabilitating existing infrastructure at locations accessible to the returning populations wherever they are.
In complement, the humanitarian community will look to the Government of Uganda and the development community to increase their presence and programmes throughout northern Uganda in order to promote the seamless transition from crisis to recovery. During the first quarter of 2008, open discussions will be held at the district level in order to establish a clear and transparent set of criteria to define the end state for humanitarian programming: a viable post-conflict community. It is also hoped that the Government of Uganda’s Peace, Recovery and Development Plan (PRDP) for Northern Uganda, launched on 15 October 2007, will quickly be implemented, providing an overarching structure for recovery and development. However, given the lack of an established funding mechanism for development-oriented activities, some initial recovery projects have been included in the 2008
While northern Uganda continues to improve, however, the situation in parts of north-eastern Uganda poses a serious challenge. Less than half of the 110,000 displaced persons living in camps in the Teso districts of Amuria and Katakwi are expected to return to their places of origin in 2008 due to insecurity associated with continued aggressive activities by illegally-armed Karimojong and lack of sufficient policing and protective deployments of Anti Stock Theft Units (ASTUs). Those remaining in camps or transit sites will require more and better humanitarian assistance in the year to come, including assistance to recover from the additional impact of the 2007 flooding, which was felt most severely by the displaced population in Teso.
In Karamoja, the humanitarian and human rights community remains gravely concerned by ongoing disarmament operations conducted by the Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) – which have sometime used excessive force against civilians – as well as the lack of political, economic and social development in the region. Again in 2007, the Karamoja region has exhibited the lowest performance against humanitarian and development indicators in the country. In 2008, therefore, mounting a sufficient response to these stark challenges will require the combined and strengthened efforts of the humanitarian and development communities.
Additionally, Uganda is expected to continue to host several refugee communities, primarily from Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda. In 2008, some 220,000 refugees are expected to require continued assistance, although approximately 54,000 may be repatriated. The situation in Southern Sudan does not yet demonstrate the type of political stability and socio-economic development needed to act as a pull factor for refugees to head home. Meanwhile, the recent tension and unrest in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo has increasingly put the humanitarian and human rights community on alert for renewed influxes of refugees into south-western areas of Uganda.
Finally, as was underscored by the vulnerability of communities in eastern and northern Uganda to the devastation caused by widespread flooding in the second half of 2007, the humanitarian community has deemed it essential to establish a standing capacity for rapid response to sudden-onset disasters and to strengthen disaster risk reduction and preparedness for any type of sudden-onset emergency.
Thus, in order to respond to the evolving humanitarian situation in northern and north-eastern Uganda in 2008, the humanitarian and human rights actors participating in the present appeal will seek to fulfil two overarching strategic objectives – to save lives and to facilitate recovery. The proposed activities take into account the various geographical and thematic priorities related to the specific contexts in the Acholi, Lango, Teso and Karamoja regions, as well as the needs of refugees and the focus on disaster preparedness.
In supporting the Government of Uganda to raise all parts of the country out of crisis and into development, the humanitarian and human rights community has developed projects totalling $373.9 million to address the emergency life-saving needs and facilitate the recovery of the displaced and formerly displaced population, natural hazard-affected population, refugees and vulnerable groups in the Karamoja region. Partners have indicated that $12.5 million is already available for their proposed projects, leaving an outstanding requirement of $361.4 million.
Indeed, a recent study in Gulu district suggests that a significant proportion of the displaced population may have no immediate intention to move “all the way home”. Rather, for considerations related to enhanced security, proximity to basic services and acclimatisation to community life, many may choose to remain in transit sites – and even in the original camps – commuting the short distance to their villages of origin in order to carry out food production and income-generating activities (Waiting for Godot in Gulu, OCHA, 2007).