General food assistance continues to enable refugees to meet their immediate food and nutrition needs and sustain a minimum level of food security. During the period there were no new arrivals reported as borders remained closed by the GoU, however, WFP continued to provide hot meals to the asylum seekers pending registration and relocation and those awaiting Refugee Eligibility Committee. The refugee response resource constraints remained a challenge therefore PoCs continued to receive a 70 percent ration for both in-kind and CBT across all settlements. Stricter controls at the border together with procurement delays, created new resourcing and supply chain challenges causing pipeline shortfalls in pulses for the months of November and December. WFP, therefore, had to adjust the food baskets substituting pulses for cereals in two settlements during those months. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and to diminish contacts between the POCs, WFP provided two-month rations for all settlements except Nakivale, Oruchinga where PoCs receive monthly cash transfers through the Agent Banking system; Kiryandongo and Palabek were provided food rations in the off months (staggered approach).
WFP continued its food assistance using cash-based transfers to vulnerable urban refugees via mobile money (Airtel) and cash over the counter (Post-Bank) modalities to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 pandemic to urban refugees. The exercise was implemented jointly with UNHCR, who was responsible for the cash assistance covering he NFI requirements. Operational challenges forced WFP to shift its cash delivery mechanism from Mobile Money to immediate cash over the counter.
The sector has expanded the use of cash-based transfer modality interventions to refugees in the South-west settlements to a coverage of over 90 percent and this resulted in the fact that over 50 percent of the total refugee population are receiving cash-based food assistance. This gave additional flexibility to PoCs to choose locally available food commodities, has enhanced local market prospects and the efficiency for WFP’s provision of food assistance and reduced the time people spent at Food Distribution Points, thereby limiting the risk of potential exposure to COVID 19. WFP availed of both ‘Bank on wheels’ with the Post Bank and Agent Banking by Equity Bank as cash transfer modalities to refugees in the settlements. WFP signed a field level agreement (FLA) with the Finnish Refugee Council (FRC) to roll out financial literacy training in 11 refugee settlements in the coming year, targeting refugees and asylum seekers who receive WFP’s assistance through cash-based transfers. FRC will use the financial education training toolkit that was developed by WFP and UNCDF in 2019, customized to the needs of displaced populations in Uganda.
In November 2020, the proportion of households with insufficient food consumption was 47 percent among settlement-based refugees, 32 and 13 percent among Kampala-based refugees and nationals in host communities, respectively. Overall, Kampala-based refugees are fairly better-off than settlement-based refugees partly due to available labour opportunities in Kampala.
The proportion of settlement-based refugee households with inadequate food consumption in November (47 percent) was comparable to October (45 percent) but 10 percent less when compared to the same time in 2019 (57 percent in November 2019). Compared to October 2020, an improvement in food consumption was recorded in most refugee settlements notably in Rwamwanja, Palorinya and Oruchinga in November. However, Bidi-Bidi recorded a deterioration.
About 6 in 10 (59 percent) of settlement-based refugee households used medium or high food-based coping strategies. This was 7 percent and 39 percent higher when compared to October 2020 and November 2019, respectively. Female headed households were more likely to use negative food-based coping strategies (65 percent for female Vs 56 percent for males). Bidi-Bidi (79 percent), Imvepi (76 percent) and Adjumani (69 percent) had the highest proportion of households that resorted to the use of negative food-based coping strategies.