Mr David Wani, like many other refugees, left South Sudan with virtually nothing at the height of the war that claimed several lives four years ago.
He travelled to Uganda in 2017 with torn clothes and was resettled at Omugo refugee settlement in Terego District. Apart from the clothes he had, the father of three faced the harsh reality of life in the settlement camp, as feeding and meeting other basic needs were some of the biggest chalenges.
“The shelter was bad. I had a beautiful house in South Sudan, but here I was sleeping in a very small Tarpaulin makeshift with my family. Feeding was a problem for the family as we only depended on food rations by the World Food Program which people scrambled for,” Wani says.
But four years later, Wani is rebuilding his life in the settlement camp and is not ready to return to South Sudan soon. He is now engaged in farming that is helping him feed well and also sell some of the food items to generate income.
In his tiny compound, there is a vegetable garden where he planted different nutritious vegetables that have helped him come out of hunger and fight malnutrition.
“I never used to practice farming while in South Sudan, but here it is my lifeline. I have seven goats, five pigs and grow tomatoes which are a source of income,” Wani said.
From his earnings, Wani has been able to construct a house using locally made bricks.
“From the money we earn we are able to rent land from the host communities and expand our projects. We now have like three acres of groundnuts,” Wani says.
An acre of land is rented at between Shs 80,000 and Shs 100,000 per year.
“I have gained a lot of knowledge regarding farming and business. Even if I go back to South Sudan, I will be able to survive with these skills,” Wani boasts.
Wani is now living a hopeful life due to support of Security, Protection, and Economic Empowerment (SUPREME). The programme implemented under a consortium of World Vision, SNV, ZOA, RICE-West Nile brought together refugees and host communities, who are supported to grow vegetables like, dodo, tomatoes and cabbage among others.
Another South Sudan refugee, Ms Mary Ajonye, the chairperson of United Friends Savings Group, has been able to construct grass thatched mud and daub huts which offer better accommodation.
“Majority of the refugees are sleeping in huts like they were doing in South Sudan. We have food, since we can grow it. At least I do not cry of hunger because the garden is helping me during both wet and dry seasons,” Ajonye said.
Apart from gardens, the refugees have established small businesses where they earn a living. There are a number of shops in the settlement.
The project also links youth to private sector employment, develops sustainable agricultural value chains and non-agricultural enterprises and boosts the capacity of savings and development clusters.
Mr Charles Ssekatawa, the Consortium Manager, said: “Most refugees are not dependent on the food rations as it used to be. They can make their own money and this has reduced conflicts in the households.”
He explains that under the project refugees and host community members are targeted through community structures known as Savings and Development Clusters (SDCs).
He adds that the programme has increased access to decent employment and economic opportunities for refugees and host communities.
The four-year project funded by the European Union seeks to increase access to decent employment and economic opportunities for refugees and host communities in four districts Moyo, Obongi, Terego and Madi Okollo in the West Nile sub-region.
The project aims to directly benefit 25,000 members of refugee and host communities and indirectly impact the lives of 112,500 household members in the targeted refugee and host communities.