Tuesday October 4 2011

Food shortage hits refugee camp


Despite relying on donations, refugees in Nakivale Settlement Camp have not been spared the high food and other commodity prices. The two settlements of Orukinga and Nakivale in Isingiro District have not had food distributions for the last two months sparking fear of unrest by refugees.

The deputy settlement commandant, Mr Johnson Okot, last week told the newly-appointed World Food Programme (WFP) country director, Mr Sory Ouane, that the biggest challenge the camps face was food shortage.
“The biggest challenge is to make sure that food arrives on time to prevent food riots which we normally experience in the months of September to November,” he said.

Other challenges include lack of houses for WFP staff, pit-latrines at food distribution centres which affects distribution and compromises hygiene during rainy seasons. However, Mr Ouane assured the refugees that they had enough food and would speed up the delivery. He added that food deliveries had started and would end in two weeks.

As he addressed leaders, two WFP tracks arrived with sacks of food. “As a lead food provider agency we are working with other development partners like UNHCR, Norwegian Refugee Council, German International Cooperation and the government to see that the situation is under control,” he said.

To encourage refugees from relying on food handouts, Mr Ouane donated a hammer mill as an income-generating project and also mill the maize they receive from WFP. The chairperson of the refugees’ welfare council, Mr Donat Tubanambazi, welcomed the donation, saying the refugees have been facing difficulties in milling the maize.

He, however, requested for more mills because the camps occupy a vast area (about 35 square miles) and was optimistic that it would be put to good use. Some refugees own private mills but are not enough for the large population.

Other agencies working in the camps have also taken steps to boost the self-sustenance of the refugees. Denmark through the Danish Refugee Council is set to promote farming and have opened an office in the camp.