Uganda : Population Movement DREF n° MDRUG027 - Final Report

Summary: CHF 269,527 was allocated on 19 June 2012 from the IFRC’s Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) to support the Uganda Red Cross Society (URCS) in delivering immediate assistance to some 15,700 beneficiaries (2,617 households) over three months.

In February and March 2012, the conflict in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) between the government and rebel factions intensified, causing unrest and instability, which provoked an upsurge of refugees who fled over the border into Uganda in search of protection and assistance. The refugees were provided with assistance at the reception and transit centers, and refugee settlement, through cooperation between URCS, the Ugandan Government, United Nation High Commissioner for refugees (UNHCR), World Food Programme (WFP), Red Cross Movement Partners, and local communities. During this DREF operation, URCS carried out First Aid services and referrals, and restoring family links activities (RFL). A total of 4,417 vulnerable persons were provided with shelter and basic household items, which improved their living conditions while 3,736 refugees received psychosocial support and 354 in need if psychosocial First Aid were provided with the care needed. Friendly centres were established as a way to reduce stress for the refugees, enhance wellbeing and promote co-existence.

URCS managed to implement all of their planned activities, and cover the most urgent needs identified in the refugee reception and transit areas, as well as refugee settlement. In total 11,772 refugees and 3,700 persons from the host communities were provided with potable water, 1,970 households and 8 schools given water purification products thereby, contributing to reduced risks for water related diseases. Latrines were provided to 187 households and in the community on strategic locations to improve sanitary conditions. A total of 7,976 refugees and host community members gained increased knowledge in hygiene and sanitation, and 1,936 vulnerable households were given soaps. To contribute to the protection of the environment, 9,470 trees were planted as a way to reduce the impact of the refugee settlements on the surrounding area.

The capacity of URCS was enhanced through training of staff and volunteers in assessment methodology, relief distribution, camp management, psychosocial support, First Aid and participatory hygiene and sanitation transformation (PHAST). The operation provided valuable experience and important lessons for URCS to draw from. Important cooperation and partnership was formed with the refugee and host communities, the Government of Uganda, UNHCR, WFP, and the Red Cross Movement partners. A total of CHF 3,727 that was unspent at the close of the operation will be returned to DREF.

Lessons learned:

  1. Changes usually take time to be assimilated or demonstrated in behaviour, whether individual or institutional. The operation benefited tremendously from the amount of time committed to it (three months in the emergency phase allocated by the DREF period but also the extended time allocated by the partnership agreement with UNHCR and GoU). This facilitated the overall effectiveness of program activities by allowing for staff to monitor progress in the areas of the hygiene, safe water provision and environment protection during the implementation. Additionally, having local and refugee demands informing the actions in the right directions ensured effectiveness, and providing opportunities for follow-up initiatives although not anticipated in the original planning ensured sustainability, such as involving the district officials and linking the water system to the district plans.

  2. The team set up by the government and UNHCR in Kisoro to oversee the operation functioned throughout the program period and made a major contribution to program implementation. This team included representatives not only from the supporting, managing and implementing organizations such as MTI, WFP, UNHCR and OPM but also from several district stakeholders. While it took time for the group to get fully established and meet regularly, the often energetic discussions held at the coordination meetings (and, when appropriate, via e-mail) became invaluable in providing different perspectives, considering the evolving influx situation and the demands that followed.

  3. Bunagana and Matanda as border areas are likely to continue to receive refugees as witnessed over the past years. It is important that URCS developed plans to increase the capacity of the communities in these areas to be able to host refugees without straining their resources. Similarly, the branches of Kisoro and Kanungu should be strengthened in DM to be able to fully and adequately engage in any future refugee operations and equally support their communities once faced with these and other disasters

Future plans: Based on the lessons learned, the URCS disaster management department is in process of strengthening the branches and to develop a new and comprehensive disaster risk reduction project that addresses the needs identified and prioritized in those areas. URCS will be exploring possibilities for funding from different partners for the proposed project.

The Netherlands Red Cross/Government, Belgian Red Cross/Government and DG ECHO contributed towards a 100 percent replenishment of the DREF allocated for this operation. The major donors and partners of DREF include the Australian, American and Belgian governments, the Austrian Red Cross, the Canadian Red Cross and government, Danish Red Cross and government, the European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO), the Irish and the Italian governments, the Japanese Red Cross Society, the Luxembourg government, the Monaco Red Cross and government, the Netherlands Red Cross and government, the Norwegian Red Cross and government, the Spanish Government, the Swedish Red Cross and government, the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID), the Medtronic and Z Zurich Foundations, and other corporate and private donors. The IFRC, on behalf of Uganda Red Cross, would like to extend thanks to all for their generous contributions.

Details of DREF contributions can be found on:

All operations-related appeals, reports, updates and information are available on the Appeals, plans and updates section of the web site: