Rwamwanja settlement was established in 1964 to host refugees from Rwanda, but closed in 1995 when many repatriated. The settlement was reopened in 2012 to host refugees fleeing insecurity in the Democratic Republic of Congo due to violence in North and South Kivu. The settlement, currently hosting over 78,000 refugees, is at full capacity and no longer receives new arrivals.
Gaps & Challenges
Lack of specialized doctors, language barriers, overcrowding in health facilities and the need to sometimes pay prior to being seen by doctors have resulted in reports of poor examinations and thus many patients not receiving the appropriate treatment and care. Both refugees and nationals have reported the health centers are ill equipped particularly with regards to antenatal care leading to cases in which women gave birth on the floor or on the way to the centers.
High teacher per student ratios and overcrowding at education facilities were highlighted by refugees and the host community as the main issues inhibiting children’s learning development. This has led to many children staying at home or dropping out. Parents also struggle to pay tuition fees as they are expensive and there are limited scholarships available. Furthermore, early pregnancies and high rates of HIV/AIDS have also discouraged students from staying enroled in school.
The insufficient supply of water has prevented refugees and nationals from accessing the water they need. Refugees and nationals reported the water sources available are located far away with only certain blocks having boreholes and an inadequate number of taps that are not functional on a regular basis. Furthermore, there is poor latrine coverage in the settlements, which means families are often sharing latrines with each other.
Refugees reported issues such as insufficient food rations that would not last for a whole month, and incorrect food rations where they would receive fewer kilos of maize than they are meant to (8 or 9 kilos instead of 10). Moreover, they emphasized there is limited diversity in the food distributed, which refugees themselves linked to malnutrition and ulcers. Further issues arise as refugees are in some cases not included in the manifest for food distribution or cash for food, which means they cannot receive their rations.
Refugees noted having inadequate shelter materials, such as plastic sheeting and tarpaulins, provided to housheolds. Plastic sheetings are old and leaking, which is particularly an issue during the rainy seasons. Persons with special needs (PSNs) are particularly vulnerable with little access to adequate shelters and facilities.
Refugees and host communities have struggled to sustain a livelihood due to the limited access to capital and lack of vocational institutions present to provide technical and vocational trainings. Additionally, there is limited access to productive assets such as grinding machines and land, which further prevents them from starting small scale businesses or livelihoods projects.