One of the newer settlements in Uganda, Imvepi was opened in February 2017 to accommodate South Sudanese refugees after the Palorinya settlement in Moyo District quickly reached its capacity. Although the settlement no longer receives new arrivals, many refugees are registered at the reception center in Imvepi before being transferred to another settlement, such as the Omugo zone extension in Rhino Camp.
Gaps & Challenges
There are few schools in the settlement, and some have old, inadequate facilities. A shortage of teachers and a lack of teaching materials, furniture and latrines have all contributed to create poor learning conditions. Additionally, many refugees have to travel long distances to reach school. These factors have combined to cause many pupils to drop out of school, especially girls.
The whole settlement is served by two health centres and four health posts. Refugees reported that this is not enough to meet the needs of the population. Refugees cannot afford private transportation to health centres, walking far distances of up to 6 kilometres, to seek treatment. Many refugees reported the health centre’s limited capacity for testing and diagnosis, and lack of medicine available.
Limited access to health services leads to some refugees resorting to traditional remedies or selling part of their food rations to afford transportation to the main referral hospital in Arua.
Many refugees have vocational skills in carpentry and handicraft making, but a lack of capital to start small businesses prohibits livelihoods options. Others who are qualified as teachers, doctors, and plumbers, among other professions, fail to find employment in the settlement or nearby town.
Many temporary shelters have been damaged by heavy rains and strong winds. Few of them have been repaired, forcing some refugees to live in emergency tents that leak every time it rains. Shelter materials are reportedly only distributed on arrival and many refugees cannot afford to purchase construction materials.
Strengths & Opportunities
There is strong leadership and coordination among the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Uganda’s Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), and local district government. This allows for smooth operation and implementation of partners in the settlement.
The host community generously provided land for the humanitarian response. All partners have taken advantage of and benefited greatly from the space to set up offices and implement programs.
A high degree of cooperation among partners has contributed to effectively responding in a new settlement with a large population. Partners work together to manage the response, by dividing the zones among themselves, in order to accelerate the process of implementation.
Implementation of the ReHoPE framework, a strategy to respond to the needs of refugees and their host communities, has contributed to positive relationships between the two populations. With interventions focusing on health, education, water, and other areas, host communities are also benefiting from services provided for refugees.