Uganda is My Homeland- Demystifying UN Top Envoy’s Message in Gulu.

By E K Benj

Updated at 0327 GMT on Tuesday 19 May 21


United Nations Ambassador to Uganda H.E Rosa Malango on Monday started her first engagement with inspiring Ugandans to love and secure their country beginning with their homes. Addressing Young people gathering at Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative founded by Forest Steven Whitaker an American actor, producer, and director. (Famous Movie, “THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND” ), Malango said the country is to experience significant transformation on social – economic aspect if citizens can realise how important it is to love and appreciate their nation.

Photo montage – EX Ugandan President Field Marshal Al-haj Idi Amin Dada & Forest Whitaker

Malango who earlier had been welcomed by Office of the President, the Gulu Resident District Commissioner Mr. Odong Latek Stephen called for joint cross boarder initiatives to empower young people and ensure food security to avoid conflicts. “If DRC, South Sudan, Uganda & Kenya can create opportunities for the youth at the boarder, peace will be achieved. ” Malango said.

The RDC confirmed that people from neighboring countries take advantage of the stability of Gulu which has assumed city status to do business. He promised to seek extension of the free land use by the Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative as requested by Ms Malango who mentioned that Whitaker is a UNESCO International Ambassador.

Malango latter visited the GBV Shelter, UN Women in partnership with Action Aid International. Through Public-Private partnerships, a total of thirteen (13) GBV Shelters have been established in Uganda. GBV Shelters are part of the referral system that provide victims and survivors with temporary refuge, lodging and other services and link victims and survivors to medical, legal, economic and psycho-social services.

The UN Chief also visited Takataka Organisation which manages plastic waste as part of the initiative to save the environment. Addressing the media, Malango introduced members of the Youth Coalition for SDGs she traveled with emphasizing that they are ready to solve problems but need visibility and support like the Stanbic Youth Facility. She called for mind set change with Afrocentric positive values which connect with the universal values.

The UN Resident Coordinator latter had working lunch and joint meeting with UN Area Coordination teams – UNAC.

Towards the close of the day, Ms Malango had Art and craft sessions with women and girls at the CLC.

Today Tuesday, Malango is expected Travel to Maaji 2 refugee settlement in Adjumani and also visit UNICEF/DLG Collaboration Project Water and Sanitation Improvement Project in Okusijoni sub-county Health Center III & Primary School, Visit to UNHCR/DLG/Windle Trust Education Project Secondary School, Travel to WFP Food Distribution Point (FDP) and visit to WFP/OPM/UNHCR Food Distribution Point.

View 117 Images here of First Engagement by UN Resident Coordinator H.E Rosa Malango in Gulu here

Part of the UN Northern Uganda Mission will also include Uganda Host & Refugee Community Empowerment Project, a visit to UNFPA/CARE International Projects; Women, Adolescents and Youth Empowerment Programme (WAY) and ANSWER Programme.

Visit to UN Women/FAWE – Uganda Chapter Power Project, Visit to UNHCR/OPM/DLG Farming Project , Integrated livelihoods for refugees and host communities and visit  to Adjumani town and Arua for several projects including; Women, Adolescents and Youth empowerment programme (WAY) to ensure income generating activities and VSLA activity for Women and safety.

UNFPA Updates on safe spaces in Adjumani district – Majji settlement. SDG contributed to by UNFPA: Good Health and Wellbeing – SDG 3; Gender Equality-SDG 5; Peace Justice and strong institutions SDG 16; Partnerships for the Goals- SDG 17. 


Background  UNFPA is providing support to the West Nile region through mainly two programmes Women, Adolescents and Youth empowerment programme (WAY), a five-year programme that started in 2018 and the ANSWER programme that seeks Advancing Sexual Reproductive Health Rights project, a four-year project that started in 2019, and through CERF.The Womens and girls safe space in Majji II is supported by UNFPA through the WAY Programme which seeks to empower women and young people in northern Uganda, including refugees, to contribute to their own and their communities’ development through an integrated approach to gender equality, SRHR, GBV services and socio-economic empowerment. The programme is being implemented through a partnership of UNFPA with the Ministry of Health (MOH), Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development (MGLSD), CARE International, Outbox Uganda, Reach a Hand Uganda (RAHU) and 10 districts in northern Uganda, namely, Adjumani, Agago, Amuru, Arua, Madi-Okollo, Kitgum, Lamwo, Moyo, Obongi and Yumbe. One of the key interventions in Adjumni district is support to the Women safe spaces one of which is in Majji II. The group was formed in 2018 and the structure was constructed in 2019.

  • A total of 80 women meets at Majji II safe space to share information on gender-based violence and sexual reproductive health, and conduct IGAs.
  • 4 trained volunteers support and facilitate Majji II safe space and who meet twice a week to educate the women and young people on SRH/GBV using IEC materials and discussions among the group. Ongoing mentorship sessions are being conducted to strengthen the skills and knowledge of the volunteers at the space.

Income generating activities: The Women and girls of the space requested and have received IGA start-up. The start-up items included 3 rolls of material for bed sheets, threads 3 boxes, 4 rings, 1 Sawing machine, 2 rolls of kitenge, meddles -re-usable pads -cotton cloth, scissors, polythene paper, kitenge’s pins, threads, mats, pins buttons. Most of the women who received the items are busy generating some income because of the support.

VSLA activity: The safe space volunteers have been trained on VSLA have formed 2 groups and they have been given the saving tool kits including saving boxes, books, calculator, pens, padlocks, plates.

Some of the Achievements

  • The safe space that started its income generating activities with women have now progressed to training young girls out of school on tailoring using the sewing machines they have been given in the WAY project.
  • The VSLA activity now enables women to have financial discipline by saving and borrowing with a purpose.

The safe space is very active that is beginning to attract other service providers to support the women.

UNICEF WASH Improvements in Institutions Programme: – Schools and Health Centers

Project: Water and Sanitation Improvement Project in health facilities and schools.

UNICEF WASH Improvements in Institutions programme majorly focuses on schools and health centers. In schools the WASH improvements are aimed at providing hygienic conditions that will contribute to aspects of Menstrual Hygiene Management that contributes significantly to keeping the girl child in schools. A strategy that ensures the especially the girl-child complete the primary school cycle while healthy hence reducing the drop out rate. While in health centers the WASH Improvements were aimed at elevating Infection Control and Prevention for maternal Child health services that is a risk factor to maternal/neonatal mortality and morbidity.

At Uksijoni primary school two 5-stance latrine blocks were provided; one for girls and another for boys, including a disability friendly stance. These have two handwashing facilities conveniently placed at the outlet of the facilities to enable the pupils’ have a re-call for hand washing after latrine use. In addition, the girl’s latrine has a washroom and an incinerator annexed to the to it. This design enables the adolescent girl to manage her menstrual hygiene while at school. To further promote hand washing practice in the school, two additional hand washing facilities (one for short children and for taller children) were positioned at conspicuous points in the school quadrangle. This always provides an opportunity for hand washing especially with current COVID-19 pandemic affecting the world.

At the Uksijoni health centre III, two 4-stance latrines blocks were provided;(one for females and another for males and each including disability friendly stance). The facilities also have hand washing facilities conveniently positioned at the outlet to enable re-call for hand washing. The health centre package also provided 2- two stance bathing shelters (males and females) with flowing water connected to a tap and a rose head shower. This helps the patients and care takers manage their personnel hygiene with privacy.

To ensure all these facilities have a safe and reliable water supply, a borehole drilled by the Adjumani District Local Government (Yield of 5.1 M3/Hr) was motorized to provide water to the two institutions which neighbour each other. The bore hole was upgraded into a mini -solar powered water system which ensures a safe and reliable source of water that was connected through a pipe network to all points that need water both in the school i.e., the girl’s washroom and all hand washing facilities and at the health centre the critical points like the OPD, laboratory, the maternity ward including the labour suites. The mini-water system delivers water into 10,000 litres water reservoirs constructed at each institution. From each institution a water a 2-faucet community tap stand was provided to serve the community. This arrangement ensures that the school and health centre always maintain an exclusive water supply.

Project two: Health System Strengthening and support for integrated nutrition service delivery.

UNICEF, through Adjumani District Local Government (Health sector), supports the supply of health and nutrition services through Health Systems Strengthening and Support as follows: Integrated Management of Acute Malnutrition (IMAM) for children with Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) in Outpatient Therapeutic care (OTC); screening for children 6-59 months and identification and referral of SAM cases with medical complications to Adjumani hospital for specialised inpatient therapeutic care (ITC) is supported. Other nutrition-specific interventions supported include; vitamin A supplementation (to children 6-59 months), deworming, growth monitoring and promotion, iron and folic supplementation for pregnant women, Maternal  Infant and Young Child and Adolescent Nutrition (MIYCAN) counselling services, capacity building for health workers in IMAM and MIYCAN training packages and supply of key anthropometric equipment (weighing scales, height boards), job aids and delivery of integrated supplies through the National Medical Stores (ready-to-use therapeutic feeds (RUTF)) for treatment of severe acute malnutrition at  Ayiiri HC II, Maaji-A  HC II, Maaji-B HC II, Maaji-C HC II and Ukusijoni HC III.  In addition, UNICEF supports Adjumani DLG to strengthen district level coordination, planning, monitoring and quality assurance of nutrition service delivery; supports improving nutrition data capture and reporting on nutrition indicators by all health facilities and integration of refugee data into health management information systems/district health information systems (HMIS/DHIS2); as well as improving the availability of nutrition data for programming.

Nutrition results January -March 2021

A total of 84 children identified with Severe Acute malnutrition (SAM) were treated in Outpatient therapeutic care (OTC) programs, 3824 received Maternal Infant and Young child feeding (MIYCF) counselling, 2,484 children received vitamin A supplementation, 2504 children received deworming tablets, 9669  clients were screened for acute malnutrition, 424 pregnant women received iron/folic acid supplementation and 247 lactating women were supported to initiate breast feeding within one hour of delivery. A total of 120 cartons of RUTF were delivered at health facilities to support treatment of SAM. (source DHIS2, NMS data)

Projects; Uganda Host and Refugee Community Empowerment Project (2019-2022)”

UNDP is implementing a multi-year project: “Uganda Host and Refugee Community Empowerment Project (2019-2022)” in Adjumani, Lamwo and Obongi districts with support from Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA). The second project is “Fostering Humanitarian, Development and Peace building Nexus for Resilience among Refugees and Host Communities in Lamwo District (2020-2021)” supported by the Government of Japan. The two projects aim to respond to the livelihoods and social protection.

In 2020, cumulatively the KOICA project supported 4,100 beneficiaries in the three (Adjumani 1,740, Lamwo 915 in Lamwo and Obongi 1,445) who accomplished opening/rehabilitation of 90.2km community access road, 67.8 woodlots of trees planted, and 792 household energy stoves constructed, trained, and established VSLA groups, and 1000 beneficiaries supported in Lamwo under the JSB project

Project site 1: Phone charging and accessories business: Mr. Taban is a 32years old South Sudanese refugee orphan who lost both Parents in the war. A beneficiary of Cash for Work Intervention who used the benefit to start a small business “Phone charging etc.

Project: ‘POWER project

With Funding from UN WOMEN, entered in consortium with International Community of Women Living with HIV Eastern Africa (ICWEA) to implement the ‘POWER’ project-a program on Women’s Empowerment in Sexual, Reproductive, Maternal, New-born, Child, and Adolescent Health Rights (SRHMNCAH) in Humanitarian Settings, the project intention is addressing critical bottlenecks that prevent women, children, and adolescents from accessing, demanding, and realizing their full rights to SRMNCAH services. Target age group 15-49 years inclusive of Women and girls living with HIV/AIDS, people with disabilities, survivors of GBV and FGM, commercial sex workers, child mothers and school dropouts among others vulnerable groups of women and girls. The consortium has 2 groups of Vulnerable women and girls consisting of 20 members each (a total of 40 members) in Maaji 2 under Okusijoni Sub County in Adjumani District. Meaning 40 POWER Club members in Maaji 2.

AMAVUADRAGA AND UNITY POWER GROUPS: The group is a VSLA group, who acquired knowledge and skills in VSLA methodology. A group member who has had sufficient training in VSLA methodology and record keeping leads the group. The consortium has a VSLA expert who oversees the intervention who offers technical guidance and monitors the groups. Group enterprise started and so far, some of the group members started saving and members are free to borrow from the group savings. About 14 members have started their own small businesses at the nearby market by selling food stuffs like silver fish, onions, tomatoes, and other basic needs.

Most of these disadvantaged women and girls, through listening too many of their fellow women and girls, have gained self-esteem and confident and are seen actively attending the groups meetings and vividly sharing their ideas. Bringing their meager funds together and lending amongst themselves, improved their economic resilience with members of these 2 groups beginning to have access SRHMNCAH services and advocate for the SRHMNCAH Right. The groups organize weekly meetings where they can share health talks on access to SRHMNCAH services and Rights, key discussed are topics such as particularly issues of overcoming stigma, male engagement in Antenatal care and FP, issues of referral of SGBV cases, positive parenting, adherence among other issues. This has helped some members to receive psychosocial support through referrals especially SGBV survivors. So far 3 have been referred by members of these clubs to LWF and 01 to UNYPA.

WFP in partnership with OPM and UNHCR provides Humanitarian Assistance (Food assistance or Cash based transfers) to about 219,903 refugees monthly in Adjumani. Maaji 2 is one of the fourteen (14) Final Distribution Points (FDPs) in Adjumani settlements / Adjumani District. It is in Ukusijoni Sub-County, South West of Adjumani district and 45 kilometres away from Adjumani town.

Activity 1: Food Assistance (General Food and Cash Transfers): On a monthly basis, WFP provides four (4) food commodities to refugees. These include Cereals, pulses, Vegetable Oil and Salt. Or CBT at a rate of 19,000 UGX equivalent to 60% of the normal (31,000 UGX)

Activity 2: Food Assistance (Nutrition): Crisis affected households have access to nutrient-rich foods achieved through targeted supplementary feeding programme that treats moderate acute malnutrition in children below 5years and PLWs; and the Maternal Child Health and Nutrition programme that prevents chronic malnutrition (stunting) and the onset of moderate acute malnutrition. The latter equally targets PLWs and children below 2 years of age (the first 1,000 days of life).  

Maaji 2 settlement is served by Ayiri health centre III, a government aided health facility based within the settlement. WFP through our partners Action Against Hunger, a local community-based organisation Palm Corps, UNHCR partner Medical Teams international and Food for the hungry can provide nutrition sensitive and specific services to the refugee and host community:

In Maaji 2, Asset Creation and livelihood project engaged 596 participants in Zoka Central P/S, who were paid for participating in labour intensive work for the schools for four (04) cycles each lasting 13 days. The school benefited from the following during ACL implementation.

  • Kitchen and Energy saving stove.
  • Produce store.
  • School Garden opening: 20 acres of vegetable garden opened, though they utilized only 02 acres,

Fruit trees; 756 stands of orange brother heart, and some Guavas.

Project 1: Provision of Secondary Education in Maaji 2 refugee settlement

Maaji 2 has 8 primary schools but there was no secondary school hence majority of the primary school graduates would drop out after completing primary education.  To address this gap and in consultation with relevant stakeholders, DLG authorities agreed to open a secondary school in October 2016.  Classes were initially conducted in a Church in Maaji III settlement and continued for 6 months in the same premises.  Then a land of the existing school was offered by one of community members but there were no structures in place. Classes were conducted under trees exposing teachers and students alike to various weather changes. Over time, UNHCR and partners supported the construction of temporary structures for classrooms, provided salaries of 12 teachers, scholastic materials, instructional materials, laboratory equipment and chemicals.

As of 2018, there were 106 students. During the same year,  2 classroom blocks were constructed, and the same structures are used to date, with an enrollment of 647 students. The student/classroom ratio is 1:107 against a standard of 1:53.  The school continue to operate despite many gaps.

In 2019,  Government of Uganda provided a grant of UGX 1,794,661,794 as a seed funding, from the DrDIP and UGIFT- World Bank-funded projects under the refugee host sub-component, for upgrading into a Government Aided School for Okusijoni  sub-county. The funds were used to expand the school infrastructure including the construction of an administration block,  multipurpose hall, 1 additional classroom block, science laboratory and  teachers’ quarters. 

In May 2021, the Ministry of Education posted a total of 14 staff including 12 teachers and 02 support staff to the school on Government Payroll.

To date, the Maaji Secondary School continue to provide opportunities for secondary education to the host populations and refugees. The transition rates from primary to secondary have increased significantly, creating increased opportunities for Higher Education. In 2018-2019, a total of 51 candidates (14 in 2018 and 37 in 2019) sat their UCE examination in this same school, and 1 passed in Division I.  Many children are aspiring to attend higher levels of education and the Maaji Secondary School will continue to play an important role towards achieving their life goals. 

Project 2:  Support to livelihoods and self-reliance of refugees and host communities through commercial farming in Mungula

Commissioned in November 2020, this 2000-acre innovative project located in Mungula, Itirikwa sub-county demonstrates the strategic partnership of DLG/OPM and UNHCR to improve household food and income security through agricultural production, bridging humanitarian and development.  An initial 100 acres is planted with maize and the farming will continue progressively with diversified crops as the land clearing expands to cover the entire acreage. This project is guided on the core principle of both the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) and the Global Compact for Refugees (GCR), with the idea that when given a chance, refugees can build their skills, support themselves, their families and become self-reliant, while making positive contributions to and fuelling the development of the communities hosting them.  Through this intervention, refugees and host communities will mutually empower each other both socially and economically.

Project core Objectives

  1. Strengthen the communities social – economic resilience.
  2. Increase sustainable incomes and employment for refugees and host community and raise revenues to address gaps in the District Response Plans Strengthen peaceful co-existence between refugees and host community
  3. Enhance the protection space for refugees and host communities

Implementation arrangements: UNHCR will support the progressive establishment of the commercial farm through a mix of mechanized and labor-based works; establish a semi-autonomous farm management structure with skilled and un-skilled refugees and host communities; contract farming,  contracts secured with large scale buyers; farm expands using internally generated revenue. The project is currently managed by Adjumani DLG and supported by a management board consisting of district authorities and UNHCR.  The district will undertake an Environmental Impact Assessment to inform appropriate mitigation measures to manage excesses of the commercial farming project.

Status, Achievements & Outcomes.  270 acres have so far been opened, of which 100 are currently under cultivation with high-yielding maize to be inter-cropped with high-yielding beans.   In season 2021B, acreage of the farm will double, and diversified crops will be planted. To date, over 200 households (> 1000 PoCs) are already benefiting from “Cash for Work” opportunities at the farm that involve planting and weeding, workers consist of 50% refugees and 50% host communities. So far, the workers have used the money they earned to cover basic and other needs as well as establishing micro-businesses among others.

Whitaker Peace and Development Initiative (WPDI) is a non-profit International Non-Government Organization, founded by UNESCO Special Envoy for Peace and Reconciliation and UN Advocate for SDG’s, Forest Whitaker, with the mission of helping societies affected by destructive conflicts transform into safer and more-productive communities.

Since its inception in 2012, WPDI has created and managed peace building programs in Uganda, Mexico, South Sudan, South Africa, Cameroon, Chad, Gabon, and the United States. WPD works to empower and inspire youth, women, and global citizens to promote peace across the planet. We conduct and sustain our peace initiatives through conflict resolution education (CRE) programs and methodologies, community projects at the grassroots, and state-of-the-art 21st -century communication tools and content.

Key Achievement: 2020- April 2021

  • Through the different activities implemented at the CLC and within communities, WPDI has been able to achieve the following as of April 2021.
  • 84,448 people have been directly impacted by WPDI activities in the region.
  • 78,465 people across the sub region were reached by WPDI Covid 19 information campaigns.
  • 2,878 people utilized our internet and library services at the CLC in Gulu.
  • 510 community members enrolled in WPDI vocational skills training courses at the CLCo 102 in peace building and conflict resolution.
  • 161 in Information communication technology
  • 127 in business and entrepreneurship
  • 120 in Arts and craft
  • 1,797 people participated in community dialogues led by youth peacemakers ü 995 community leaders have been trained in conflict resolution education.
  • 225 local youth and 50 vulnerable women have been trained in business and entrepreneurship skills.
  • 5 women groups have been supported with start-up grants.
  • 52 youth community projects have been supported with start-up grants.

Other activities include;  Art and craft sessions with women and girls at the CLC  and ICT sessions with youth at the CLC

Project: GBV Shelter

Action Aid International Uganda is running the Gulu District GBV Shelter which is one of the 10 Shelters that emerged out of the “WomenWon’t Wait (WWW)” campaign launched 2007 on the intersection of HIV and violence against women and girls. The Gulu GBV Shelter was launched in September 2014, at Opwonya Road next to Bardege Division offices in Gulu District, with support from UNFPA under the UN Joint Program on Gender Equality and Women Empowerment.

The Gulu GBV Shelter then implemented the Support Uganda’s Response to Gender Equality (SURGE) project from 2015 to August 2020 with Funds from   UKAID through DFID. The goal of the project was to achieve equal access for women and men to opportunities and a life free from violence and ultimately gender equality.

Services offered at the Shelter.

The GBV Shelter is a safe space for survivors who are at risk or severely injured because of GBV. Survivors are offered basic needs such as food, clothing, sanitary items, bed, and rest. This enables survivors feel safe and have time to recover as steps are being taken to manage their cases. Other services offered include:

  1. Emergency/Temporary accommodation, protection, psychosocial support, and security for survivors and related referrals. 
  2. On spot counselling and psychosocial support to survivors of GBV.

This is the first and immediate service offered to the survivor upon arrival at the Shelter. The psychosocial service is offered by trained technical personnel to enable the survivor to overcome the trauma from the violence and determine next steps for further action. From November 2021 when the UN system in Uganda started funding the GBV Shelter in Gulu, a total of 193 survivors have received this service.

  1. Specialized health services.

The Shelter has an in-house facility that allows a survivor in need of medical support to receive health care without having to deal with stigma associated with obtaining services at public facilities. This is done in collaboration with the local referral hospital that has health personnel on call for emergencies (Focal point person from Gulu Regional Referral Hospital). Through this service, a total of 134 survivors received medical support. This figure is disintegrated in table A of Appendix A of this brief.

  1. Legal aid, case management and representation as and when necessary.

The GBV Shelter has an in-house Legal Officer to handle the legal components of cases reported at the Shelter. In doing this, the Shelter works collaboratively with justice actors to ensure effective and speedy delivery of justice for women and girls. All the survivors registered by the shelter during the GBVS project received legal Aid these were 193 survivors as disaggregated in Table E of Appendix A and 58 Survivors received legal representation under the UN Women funded GBVS project.

  • Rehabilitation and resettlement of survivors (including mediation).

Upon evaluation and discharge from the Shelter, survivors are facilitated with essential items such as food, beddings, and sanitary materials. This is to enable them cope with the most immediate challenges during integration.

Referral: Survivors are referred to different service providers as considered appropriate for specialized care. For example, courts, health facilities, childcare facilities, police, and other referral points. The number of referred cases is in table B of Appendix A.

Key results and achievements of the GBV Shelter

  • Increased reporting of cases: Whereas were recording 10 cases monthly upon COVID pandemic we started recoding 30 cases monthly and the UN funded period we have been recording 40 cases monthly.
  • Strengthened GBV referral pathways that enables survivor to get services from different points without delay. Refer to Table B Appendix A.
  • Increased advocacy with other partners on women and girl rights. This was done in partnership with Care international and District stake holders which led to increased reporting of cases from 30 cases monthly by end of SURGE project in August 2020 to an average of 42 cases per month.

Model for learning: The WPC is now a learning model for other partners and several NGOs & Government, they visit to learn and hosted researchers from Africa and the globe for shared learning.


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