Oruchinga settlement, which opened as a transit center in 1959 and was officially established as a settlement in 1961, hosts more than 6,800 refugees from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Rwanda. The settlement is not receiving new arrivals, aside from family reunifications, referrals, and protection cases. Although shelter and infrastructure are developed, and the refugees seem to be well integrated with the host community, protection concerns and conflict over land and resources remain a challenge.
Gaps & Challenges
Refugees reported having to walk long distances to the health centers that are overcrowded and lack available equipment. Pregnant mothers and persons with disabilities struggle in overcoming this challenge due to their decreased capacity to travel. Furthermore, the limited stock of medication in the health centers combined with the poor referral systems present increase refugees’ inability to access health services.
Both refugees and the host community emphasized the long distances they have to walk to reach the water points that are severely overcrowded, often leading to tensions between the two groups. The quality of the water was reported to be poor with the water containing high levels of iron. The lack of provision of water purification tablets thus means the population is accessing unsafe water.
Refugees also requested support with the construction of community latrines to support families who do not have latrines as well as support with latrine construction materials.
Insufficient vocational training institutions has prohibited refugees and nationals to acquire relevant skills to access employment or start small scale businesses. Though several groups were supported this year with access to capital and cash grants by livelihoods partners, FGD participants reported still needing further access to capital. Refugees requested an increase in the implementation of income-generating activities to enable them to earn a living, which has been particularly hard due to the unfavorable climate damaging agricultural practices.
High dropout rates have resulted from high tuition fees, early pregnancies and marriages, overcrowding in the classrooms, a lack in school materials and an inability of education partners to translate refugee children’s certificates from their original countries to the Ugandan educational system. Refugees as well as the host community struggle to further their education after primary school due to the limited scholarships available and few secondary schools in and around the settlement.
Refugees participating in the FGDs reported several cases of rape and assault of young girls where women are attacked in and around the settlement. This has meant that families restrict young girls’ movements especially at night.