Uganda + 1 more

Rapid Diagnostic Assessment of Land and Natural Resources Degradation in Areas Impacted by South Sudan Refugee Influx in Uganda Field Mission Report, 11-19 March 2018

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1. Introduction

The ongoing refugee crisis in South Sudan has led to the establishment of some of the world’s largest refugee settlements over the border in northern Uganda. As of 28 February 2018, just over 1 million South Sudanese refugees and asylum-seekers had migrated to Uganda, over 350,000 of them in 2017 alone. Uganda is also hosting refugees from Somalia, Burundi and Democratic Republic of the Congo, making it the largest refugee host country in Africa (and second in the world) with a total of 1.44 million refugees and asylum-seekers (UNHCR, Flash Update, 16 March 2018).
The refugee influx has reportedly had a range of environmental impacts, including land degradation, woodland loss, competition for water and rangeland resources, and constrained access to wood energy for cooking, as well as impacts on local services for host populations (e.g. education and healthcare). In response, the World Bank has contracted the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)to undertake a “Rapid Diagnostic Assessment of Land and Natural Resources Degradation in Areas Impacted by South Sudan Refugee Influx in Kenya and Uganda”. The assessment is expected to determine the environmental impacts of the refugee influx, with a focus on forest resources, and propose appropriate interventions options to mitigate pressure on the environment and support energy access to the refugee and host communities. This assessment in Uganda targets 14 refugee settlements in West Nile region and is taking place between February and July 2018, using a combination of satellite remote sensing, biophysical data collection and socio-economic investigations.
Uganda is eligible to benefit from a portion of a new $2 billion sub-window for refugees and host communities, which was created under the 18th replenishment of the World Bank Group’s International Development Association (IDA). Uganda’s progressive refugee policies enhance its prospects for support under this window. Uganda is also benefitting from ongoing support to refugee-hosting areas under the Development Response to Displacement Impacts Project (DRDIP).
The FAO-led assessment is expected to generate practical intervention proposals for potential inclusion in financing packages submitted to the IDA 18 sub-window for refugees, and to inform ongoing World Bank (WB) support to the Government of Uganda under DRDIP.

2. Mission objectives and main activities

FAO and UNHCR took part in the field mission to Uganda between 11 and 19 March 2018 in order to consult partner agencies and government institutions at national and district level about refugee impacts and suitable mitigation measures, to initiate socio-economic and geophysical surveys in and around the refugee settlements, and to gather contextual information to inform the impact analysis and potential interventions. A representative of the World Bank also joint the mission.
The key activities of the mission were to:

  • Conduct consultative meetings and technical interviews with the country offices of the World Bank, FAO, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the World Food Programme (WFP), Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and the Centre for Research in Energy and Energy Conservation (CREEC);

  • Consult the district-based staff of FAO, UNHCR and NGOs involved in refugee-related energy and environment operations, including the Adventist Relief and Development Agency (ADRA) in Yumbe and the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) in Moyo;

  • Consult administrative and technical staff from government agencies, including the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), the National Forest Authority (NFA) and District Local Governments (DLGs) in Arua, Yumbe, Moyo and Adjumani;

  • Train and mobilise a team of enumerators for socio-economic field survey in Bidibidi and Maaji II refugee settlements and nearby host communities, to assess woodfuel consumption, define gender aspects of forest resources use, and ascertain implication for livelihoods of refugee and host communities;

  • Train and mobilise a second team for biophysical field survey by measuring dendrometric parameters at pre-determined plot sites, in order to verify satellite image diagnostics and to estimate above-ground biomassstock from trees and shrubs suitable for woodfuelsupply and their changes; and - Become familiar with the physical, social and political environment in which the refugee settlements of north-west Uganda are located, and the potential mechanisms for WB project structuring and funds disbursement, in order to design appropriate and workable intervention packages.