Refugee and host communities in Uganda empowered through emergency employment opportunities
Josephine Kyaligonza, a single mother of 4, lives in the Kyangwali subcounty, in Western Uganda, home to a refugee settlement hosting more than 112,000 refugees (UNHCR, Refugee Statistics September 2019) following a massive influx of Congolese refugees since end 2017.
People in the region, refugees and host communities alike, face a number of challenges ranging from access to health care, protection, education and livelihoods.
Living on small subsistence farming, Josephine was struggling to pay school fees, so she put her children in a free public school which was far and overcrowded. Her young girls found it difficult to travel the 3 km each way daily to reach school.
Yields were poor and Josephine could barely get 50,000 Uganda Shillings (around USD 13) in a month, which was too little to get the sewing machine she hoped would make her life and that of her family better.
In response to Josephine’s plight, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Uganda has been implementing a livelihood project in partnership with Living Earth Uganda, World Vision, Volunteer Efforts for Development Concern (VEDCO) and Save the Children since June 2019, funded by the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF). The project provides emergency employment opportunities to over 1,700 vulnerable refugees and host communities in 8 districts to support their basic life needs. There are 330 beneficiaries including Josephine in Kikuube district.
“I was lucky to be selected as a beneficiary and started road work with a tool like a rake. Ever since I started working for this project, my life has changed. I started thinking things positively and became happier because my dream of starting sewing business would come true. When the project paid me for the first 20 days of road work, I went straight away to buy a sewing machine. I am positive that from that day, my life won’t be the same,” Josephine says. She also addressed that the project brought her to change school for her children to a closer private school from her home.
“To my knowledge, this is the first project of its kind in Kyangwali subcounty. Often, organizations only work in the refugee settlement, but as a subcounty we are happy that our communities are benefiting. I have personally witnessed communities using the money to buy items that create positive change in lives such as iron sheets,” says Munguriek Jonathan, secretary works, Kyangwali subcounty in Kikuube district.
Josephine started to grow her dream further, being empowered by this project. “I had almost lost hope before, but now that I have a sewing machine, I have a plan to give hands-on training on tailoring for my fellow women who are in the same situation as I was,” she says.