Uganda – Nakivale Refugee Camp

Nakivale refugee camp is a settlement located in Isingiro District in Southwest Uganda.

Nakivale, one of the oldest refugee settlements in Uganda, was opened in 1958 and officially established as a settlement in 1960. The settlement hosts more than 100,000 refugees from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, and South Sudan. During the Burundian crisis in 2015, the population of the settlement greatly increased. Markets are bustling and food is available for purchase, but many refugees struggle to afford basic items and face serious protection issues when utilizing the land near the host community.

Gaps & Challenges

  • Many children and youth do not attend school due to high school fees for secondary school, overcrowding, and long travel distances to schools. For girls who drop out of school, early pregnancy and marriage is common.
  • Protection issues, including burglary, sexual and gender based violence, and violent assault perpetrated by other refugees and members of the host community, threaten the security of refugees, especially women and girls.
  • There is limited access to water sources and the quality of water is reportedly poor. Refugees must use limited charcoal resources to boil it for cooking and showering or sometimes go days without bathing, which could lead to health and sanitation problems.
  • Lack of financial institutions in the settlement impedes refugees’ ability to effectively manage money and save. Most people use mobile money, but weak network coverage in the settlement makes this method unreliable.
  • Stress on the environment and natural resources heightens tensions between refugees and the host community. Collecting firewood outside of the settlement increases the risk of land conflict. This puts women at risk in particular, as they reportedly often experience sexual violence when gathering wood for cooking. Few organizations have dedicated initiatives to address environmental issues.

Strengths & Opportunities

  • There were recent community elections for Refugee Welfare Committees that introduced leadership from a younger generation, cultivating new thinking and approaches to community issues.
  • Fertile land allows refugees to cultivate crops. However, improved agricultural technology producing higher quality crops would enable refugees to sell their goods at higher prices.