Refugees Benefit from Social Protection Program in Lamwo District
In Lamwo district, Northern Uganda, a beacon of hope is shining for refugees and their host communities. The “Empower U Cash” program, a part of the Social Protection Program by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), is making a substantial difference in the lives of those affected by displacement and conflict.
Margret Andrew Aloyo, a refugee in Palabek Refugee Settlement, attests to the program’s impact. She describes how this initiative has enabled her and other refugees to establish the PALUDA Farmers Savings and Credit Cooperative Society (SACCO). With monthly stipends of UGX 180,000, they have been able to save over UGX 50 million, lease 30 acres of land, and grow cassava for a local starch factory.
Impact of “Empower U Cash” Program
|Margret Aloyo||Establishment of PALUDA Farmers SACCO, land leasing|
|Filde Angwech||Increased women’s social capital, reduced violence|
|James Rizils||Improved living conditions and family well-being|
Filde Angwech, another refugee in Palabek, highlights the transformative power of digital cash transfers into women’s accounts. These transfers have not only reduced poverty and food insecurity but also empowered women, enabling them to maintain control over funds and protect them from potential harm.
Before the introduction of the “Empower U Cash” program, domestic violence was prevalent in the camp. However, the infusion of cash has brought stability, mitigating the potential for conflicts in households.
Refugees and host communities living in Palabek Refugee Settlement have welcomed this program with open arms, expressing their gratitude. It’s a joint effort between UNICEF, the Ugandan government, and various stakeholders.
|Uganda Parliamentary Forum on Social Protection (UPFSP)||Advocacy for vulnerable persons in Uganda|
|Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development||Support from government agencies|
|World Food Programme (WFP)||Food assistance and support|
The “Empower U Cash” program, initiated six months ago, is set to conclude in December 2023. Its impact is evident in the harmonious coexistence of refugees and host communities in Lamwo district.
About the Social Protection Program:
The “Empower U Cash” program is a collaboration between UNICEF, the Ugandan government, and the Dutch-funded Development Response to Displacement Impacts Project (DRDIP). It aims to enhance child welfare, foster sustainable income-generating skills, and alleviate socio-economic pressure for both refugees and host communities in Lamwo district.
Table 3: Program Objectives
|Savings Culture||Buffer against shocks, promote financial stability|
|Skills and Training||Empower individuals for income-generating activities|
|Child Welfare||Address malnutrition and food insecurity|
Tawanda Chinembiri, Social Policy Manager at UNICEF Uganda, emphasizes that the programme has benefited thousands of households, including those with a maximum of four children, people with disabilities, orphaned children, and families with vulnerable income sources.
In a comprehensive approach, the program combines cash transfers with services such as protection, health, education, and nutrition. Additionally, DRDIP has provided savings and skills training for refugees and host communities, addressing the challenges faced by the working population and social services.
Lamwo district hosts a substantial refugee population, with an estimated 137,948 people residing in 86 wards and 527 villages. There is a call for mechanized agriculture to enhance food production, necessitating government support.