This bulletin presents an overview of findings based on Ground Truth Solutions’ survey with Congolese and South Sudanese refugees in Uganda who have received aid and support from humanitarian organisations in the last 12 months It is the third such survey, the first took place in 2017 and the second in 2018. With support from the UK Department for International Development (DFID), the scope of the project has increased this year to include refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and to cover the top ten settlements in which refugees live.
The survey design and analysis has been informed by the five pillars of the Office of the Prime Minister’s Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF), which focus on (i) admission and rights, (ii) emergency response and ongoing needs, (iii) resilience and self-reliance, (iv) expanded solutions, and (v) voluntary repatriation. This ensures that the feedback from affected people can be used to track the comprehensive refugee response. Survey design integrated feedback from key aid actors in-country.
Hosting more than one million refugees, Uganda is the third largest refugee hosting country globally. According to UNHCR, there are currently 1,362,269 people seeking refuge in Uganda. South Sudanese make up the largest share of the refugee population in Uganda (854,859), followed by Congolese (389,276) and people from Burundi (44,611).
The sample size for this survey focused on South Sudanese and Congolese nationals, who collectively constitute 92% of the total refugee population in Uganda. They are currently concentrated in 15 settlements, of which we selected the top ten to survey.
The sites selected are: Adjumani (Nyumanzi, Baratuku, Elema), Bidibidi (Zone 1 and Zone 3), Imvepi (Zone I and Zone II), Kiryandongo (Ranch 1 and Ranch 37), Palorinya (Belemaling, Chinyi, Morobi), Rhino (Zone 2 – Omugo, Zone 3 - Ocea), Kyaka II (Byabakora, Kakoni, Mukondo), Kyangwali (Kirokole, Maratatu A, Maratatu B), Nakivale (Base Camp), and Rwamwanja (Base Camp, Kaihora, Nkoma).
Together, these locations host over 90% of the targeted refugee population. The total sample for this survey is 1,511, with 71% of respondents from South Sudan (1,070) and 29% from the Democratic Republic of Congo (441). To better understand how refugees perceive the aid provided, only people who reported having received humanitarian assistance in the past 12 months were included in the survey.
Top line findings are presented in the body of the report. Site-specific and other breakdowns are presented in the Annexes.
Overall, the refugees surveyed view their relations with Ugandan locals and aid workers positively, saying they feel welcome in Uganda and treated with respect by humanitarian workers.
Building on this positive relationship, communication between aid providers and refugees could be more open and robust. Currently, just over half of the refugees interviewed say they are able to provide feedback to humanitarian staff, and only a minority is aware of what assistance they are eligible to receive. Around half of the respondents feel that aid is unfairly distributed.
Refugees consider the aid received insufficient to meet their most important needs, so it is perhaps not surprising that they are also pessimistic about achieving self-reliance. Less than a quarter feel that their life prospects in Uganda are improving. While a clear majority points to the need for livelihood opportunities to strengthen their sense of self-reliance, three-quarters of respondents say they lack access to such opportunities.
Almost everyone in our sample has been allocated land, and many consider it too small or not fertile enough, which is reflected in the high percentage of people (79%) who say they are dissatisfied with the land they have received.
Refugees surveyed would appreciate more support from humanitarian actors when it comes to making decisions about returning to their countries of origin. Similarly, internal movement within Uganda and opportunities to migrate to a new country are areas in which refugees say they lack guidance from humanitarian agencies or other actors.
South Sudanese refugees respond more positively on most topics
With the inclusion of Congolese refugees in the survey sample this year, we see that they are more negative on almost all fronts, as compared to refugees from South Sudan. The Congolese refugees surveyed consider the aid they have received less sufficient to meet their most important needs and also find aid distribution less fair.
Aid recipients from the DRC are also less aware of their rights as refugees in Uganda than refugees from South Sudan, and most do not know how to exercise their right to provide feedback to humanitarian agencies on the assistance they have received, nor how to report instances of abuse or mistreatment. This is concerning, as Congolese refugees also feel less safe than South Sudanese refugees in both their day-to-day lives and when accessing humanitarian assistance.
Despite these more negative views, Congolese refugees feel relatively welcome in Uganda and also better supported regarding questions around returning to their home country, as compared to refugees from South Sudan.
Notable regional differences.
There are notable regional differences in refugee perspectives between the ten settlements. Kyaka II settlement scores lowest on several fronts, as the refugees surveyed there feel least respected and least able to participate in decisions about humanitarian assistance, to give feedback on the assistance received, or to report potential instances of abuse or mistreatment by aid providers.
Similarly, refugees in Kyaka II settlement are the most dissatisfied with the aid provided and the way aid is targeted, saying assistance does not meet their needs or go to those who need it most. Furthermore, refugees in this settlement perceive access to education to be lowest, which seems to confirm the challenging funding situation, which provides for only one secondary school for refugees in this settlement.
In contrast, refugees surveyed in Imvepi settlement are the most positive on several topics, including feeling safest when accessing humanitarian assistance. Similarly, the refugees we spoke to in Imvepi settlement are most aware of their rights as refugees and also say these rights are respected.
Only minor changes amongst the communities surveyed last year
While the sample size for this survey round was considerably larger than in previous years, our analysis includes a comparison over time among those locations that have been included in all three survey rounds to date (2017, 2018, and 2019). This comparison shows that, similarly to the two previous rounds, South Sudanese refugees in Bidi Bidi, Kiryandongo, and Rhino settlements say they feel largely respected by humanitarian staff. However, they note feeling increasingly unsafe in their day-to-day lives and less welcomed by the host community than in previous years.
Over the past three years, the South Sudanese refugees interviewed in these settlements have been consistently negative about their ability to achieve self-reliance and their prospects for the future.