Kyangwali Refugee Settlement is a refugee camp in Hoima District in western Uganda.
Kyangwali refugee settlement was established in the 1960s to accommodate Rwandan refugees. After many Rwandans repatriated voluntarily in 1994, the settlement has hosted mostly Congolese refugees. Since the start of a new refugee influx from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in mid December 2017, Kyangwali’s population has nearly doubled from 36,713 in December 2017 to 68,703 in March 2018, putting a heavy strain on existing services. Many new humanitarian partners have arrived in the settlement to respond to the emergency.
Gaps & Challenges
Refugees reported a lack of nutritional diversity in food distribution and inconsistent ration sizes of maize, flour, and beans. However, full food rations are provided on a monthly basis either in-kind or cash. With residents unable to gather sufficient wood for cooking, food preparation is an issue.
Cholera and diarrheal illnesses have spread across the settlement leading to mortalities. This has been exacerbated by insufficient household latrines, the sharing of communal block latrines, inadequate water and soap supplies, and limited water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) awareness programs.
There is insufficient medical personnel and infrastructure. Refugees reported that some ill patients end up sleeping on clinic floors due to lack of sufficient beds, including children, pregnant women, and elderly refugees with no separate quarters. Limited diagnostic equipment, translation issues, and a lack of medication have also contributed to poor health services for the population.
Income generating activities are limited and allocated plots are too small to cultivate for livelihoods purposes. Refugees who have lived in the settlement for years were using certain areas, such as Maratatu and Mombasa, for farming; this land has recently been allocated to new arrivals, heightening tensions among refugees and between refugees and host community members.
Inclement weather has destroyed emergency shelters, forcing some refugees to sleep outside without any protection. Many refugees are still waiting to receive shelter kits and some persons with special needs (PSNs) need assistance constructing their homes. Previously, some households were relocated without plastic sheets, but as of February 2018, those who did not receive now have plastic sheets for shelters, as well as all new arrivals.
Access to water is limited. There are few water points, which are congested, leading to long waiting times. Some refugees reported sleeping at the tap stands or waking up early to travel long distances in order to claim a spot in line.
Schools have been unable to accommodate new arrivals and many Francophone students with education certificates in French face difficulties enroling. There is a strong desire for residents of all ages to learn English in order to better assimilate.
Strengths & Opportunities
Strong coordination structures across implementing partners, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Uganda’s Office of the Prime Minister, and the local government, contributes to a response that is robust and adaptable. This strength was demonstrated in the effective cross-sectoral mass mobilization response to the cholera outbreak.
A positive relationship with the host community and established refugee welfare council (RWC) structures ensures a safe and harmonious environment.