Uganda-Adjumani - 2007

Refugees International Japan visits refugee communities around the world on a regular basis so that we can see at first hand the kind of impact your donations have. We are used to hearing bad news from countries affected by war. However, the people we meet, who are doing their best for their families and their communities, always impress our teams. Their resilience is amazing. The programs we fund help them to rebuild their lives and prepare for the return home.
VISIT REPORT: Lutheran World Federation – Uganda Adjumani Program   
A project run by the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) in Adjumani, north west Uganda, to improve kitchen facilities in schools hosting internally displaced people (IDPs), and thus improve nutrition and hygiene  
In March/April 2007 there was a tenuous ceasefire in northern Uganda and Lord’s Resistance Army rebels were in peace talks with the government. Around 400,000 people, some of whose families have been displaced since the 1960s, were slowly returning home from overcrowded camps. The process of return was slow due to poor infrastructure in their home villages – lack of  water-points and inadequate schools.                                             
We took advantage of the improved security situation to visit Uganda to inspect some of the projects we are funding there. The enthusiasm and commitment we encountered were truly inspiring. 
There are three official camps in Adjumani and three unofficial camps with approximately 50,000 refugees and 30,000 IDPs. We went to Ogolo and Arinyapi camps in the north of Adjumani, some distance from the town. Arinyapi camp was established in January 2006. There are 6,700 people in the camp or 1,499 households. The camp leader and others had spent three years hiding in the bush but came to Adjumani after insurgents abducted two people and killed others. The problems of life in the camp include lack of money for school fees and a high dropout rate. Widows and female-headed households need particular assistance. As a result of the traumas they have experienced, displaced children fall sick often and tend to be wild. Parents told us that the school feeding programs play an important role: because their children are not hungry, they stay in school, concentrate better, and are more respectful.
In the district there are 75,000 pupils to feed, and, according to the UN World Food Progam (WFP), only 24 good kitchens in 75 schools. The LWF project, which was funded by Refugees International Japan in 2007, was set up to provide more good kitchens. 
In the three primary schools chosen for the project new kitchens had been built, rocket elbow stoves installed, drying racks erected and storerooms secured. We thought the stoves excellent: they save time and money, are more comfortable to operate (less heat and smoke) and are more hygienic. The cost of firewood for open fires is around ¥70,000 per term and we calculated that this will be reduced by a quarter using the new stoves. The cooking time on the new stoves is about two hours compared to four hours on open fires.
School ECO Clubs
Unfortunately the school feeding program in Adjumani is in jeopardy because WFP does not have enough funds to continue. WFP estimates they will have to cut back rations by 60%. This will probably mean that they will just serve porridge in the mornings but no lunch. LWF is, therefore, helping the schools to develop the capacity to grow food. The LWF Esia Nursery produces seeds and plants for school ECO clubs at no cost. These include teak trees, mahogany trees and fruit trees such as mango, jackfruit and guava. We were very impressed with the nursery.

Our team met many people during our visit. These are some of their stories.

An elder: “There was an insurgency in our village and houses were set alight. So we gathered everyone together with their belongings and moved to Ogolo. The security people told us where to go for safety. It was a two-day walk for some people. I suffer from pain in my legs now and medical treatment is difficult – the nearest clinic is 2km away. There are six in my family. I was a peasant farmer and there is little available land here to farm.” Patrick, 24 years old: “This is my third year in the camp. There were several attacks by rebels on my village and we lost some family members. We were attacked twice and displaced twice. I earn money through burning charcoal. The problems for youth are lack of education and having to maintain a family.” Jane from Elegu: “There was an armed attack on my village and several people were killed, so I took my children and ran to Ogolo. My husband’s other wife died so I take care of her three children. My sister-in-law died so I have her four children, plus my four children. Thus I had 11 children to care for. Now I am caring for about 18 children as many were left without families. We are willing to return but we have children and are afraid of the insecurity. We must try to rebuild our lives.” Gloria from Melakue: “My village was regularly attacked by rebels so we ran and returned. Then the rebels attacked again and surrounded the huts. In the confusion of trying to escape I was shot in the foot. I was taken to a hospital but the bullet splintered the bone and my foot is deformed. I have a lot of pain. Life in the camp is not easy – people come from different villages and the available land is limited.”