Joint Multi-Sector Needs Assessment - Identifying humanitarian needs among refugee and host community populations in Uganda (August 2018)
As a relatively stable country in a volatile region, Uganda has opened its borders to become one of the countries hosting the most refugees in the world. Civil war in neighbouring South Sudan, insecurity in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and political unrest in Burundi have contributed to the most recent waves of refugee influxes in the past few years. However, Uganda has had a history of welcoming refugees for decades. Nearly 500,000 South Sudanese refugees fled to Uganda after the outbreak of violence in Juba in July 2016, and more than 86,000 Congolese refugees have arrived in the country since fighting escalated in eastern DRC in December 2017.1 Following a contentious presidential election in Burundi in July 2015, around 40,000 refugees settled in Uganda.2 These newer refugee populations join refugee communities from Ethiopia, Eritrea, Rwanda, Sudan, and elsewhere already settled in the country, bringing the total number of refugees in Uganda to an estimated 1.4 million people.
Throughout the next year, more refugees from both South Sudan and DRC are expected to arrive, with limited returns anticipated based on a continuation or escalation of the current conflicts. Due to the high numbers of refugees in Uganda, the range of origins, and the varying lengths of displacement, humanitarian needs among these groups are significant and diverse varying by population group and location.
The primary effects of the three crises are similar in terms of displacement resulting from conflict, but the magnitude and intensity differ. The South Sudan refugee crisis was the largest in magnitude, with extreme violence causing high levels of rapid population movement. While the magnitude of the refugee influx from DRC is less as compared to South Sudan, the rate of influx suggests a high intensity of displacement. Burundian refugees fled in smaller numbers in fear and anticipation of violence, and due to targeted killings before and after the 2015 election. Despite these differences, most recently arrived refugees in Uganda, and other refugees that have lived in the country for longer periods of time, face similar challenges dealing with the effects of being displaced from their homes, such as experiencing trauma, and attempting to rebuild their lives in refugee settlements. In addition to dealing with the psychological aspects of displacement, many have lost their livelihoods and are unable to afford basic necessities (food, non-food items (NFIs), education, health services, etc.) due to their lack of income. Other issues such as access to land and fertility of soil in the location of settlement present challenges for refugees. Aggravating the primary and secondary effects of the crises are underlying factors relating to Uganda’s relatively weak economy and lacking public services. While the country has made progress in reducing the proportion of the population living below the national poverty line, areas such as the Northwest region, where the majority of South Sudanese refugees reside, continue to have higher poverty rates. Additionally, service delivery concerning sanitation, electricity, education, and health is overstretched across the country, and especially in poorer areas.
As part of the Grand Bargain, an agreement among major humanitarian donors established at the 2016 Humanitarian Summit, one of the ten areas identified to be improved was needs assessments, highlighting the lack of standardized and coordinated information gathering and analysis systems that are tailored to local responses. Through a global inter-agency effort, REACH is facilitating joint multi-sectoral needs assessments (JMSNA), to address information gaps and assessment concerns at the request of the inter-agency standing committee or agencies leading the humanitarian response in various situations. In Uganda, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) requested REACH to facilitate a JMSNA, with support from the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations, with the objective of establishing a comprehensive evidence-base of multi-sectoral needs among refugee and host community populations across all existing refugee settlements nationwide (30) and the districts hosting these settlements (11). The report also incorporates findings on needs among refugee and host community populations living in vulnerable urban neighbourhoods of Kampala.
The findings and analysis from this report has been used to support the Refugee Response Plan for 2019-2020, along with informing other programmatic, strategic, and operational decision making for the humanitarian response coordinators and partner organisations. The JMSNA aims to compare humanitarian needs across population groups and locations in order to highlight groups and areas of most concern. Consequently, it aims to answer the following research question: what is the situation for specific population groups (refugees residing within refugee settlements and host community populations) in Uganda regarding health and nutrition; water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH); livelihoods, environment and energy; shelter, site planning, and non-food items; education; and food security.
The JMSNA process in Uganda began in February 2018, with REACH facilitating the research design under the auspices of UNHCR and Uganda’s Office of the Prime Minister (OPM). Through the inter-agency coordination group and other coordination mechanisms, a collaborative tool was developed with input from many partners. Data collection was conducted from 2 April to 14 July, 2018, in all 30 refugee settlements (Agojo, Alere, Ayilo I/II, Baratuku, Boroli, Elema, Kiryandongo, Kyaka II, Kyangwali, Imvepi, Lobule, Maaji I/II/III, Mireyi, Mungula I/II, Nakivale, Nyumanzi, Oliji, Olua I/II, Palabek, Pagirinya, Palorinya, Rhino Camp, Rwamwanja, Oruchinga, Bidibidi) and eleven host community districts (Adjumani, Arua, Hoima, Isingiro, Kamwenge, Kiryandongo, Koboko, Kyegegwa, Lamwo,
Moyo, Yumbe) in the Midwest, Northwest, and Southwest regions of Uganda.3 Data collection was carried out in Kampala from 6 to 16 March and 28 March to 9 April to assess the needs of refugee and host community households in vulnerable urban neighbourhoods of Kampala.
As mentioned above, the JMSNA analysis was conducted with the objective to identify where humanitarian needs are most prevalent and which population groups might be in most need of humanitarian assistance. With this objective in mind, an analytical framework highlighting households categorised as “people in need” (PIN) was developed. The proportion of households categorised as PINs were identified through composite indicators identified to measure different indicators contributing to a sector need.5 Through the Joint Analysis Task Force (JATF), UNHCR sector coleaders and technical experts from humanitarian and development organisations jointly selected the indicators to be considered as part of the PIN categorisation, as well as the criteria and thresholds to determine whether a household would be considered in need as defined by the set criteria.In Uganda, the majority of refugees receive life-saving humanitarian assistance. The purpose of the PIN analysis framework is not to minimize the needs of any household or recommend that only PIN households should receive any type of support. Rather, categorisation of “in need” using this framework aims to highlight population groups and areas that are to be prioritised in light of restricted funding and resources for humanitarian responses globally.