By Our Reporter
Refugee hosting districts in the West Nile have acquired social amenities that would help them curb water related diseases and gender based violence as a result permanent and sustainable interventions by development agencies.
A consortium of development agencies including Oxfam, CARE International, Save the Children and CEFORD, a local organization, constructed the facilities during the implementation of the Shs21 billion project that was funded with European Union Humanitarian Aid to support over 200,000 South Sudanese refugees and their host communities in West Nile region.
Mr Theophillus Emanu, the Oxfam Field Response Manager said that they started with water trucking and construction temporary shelters.
He said that as the number of refugees coming in per day reduced, they embarked on putting up motorised piped water systems, household latrines, as well as centres to handle gender and protection cases.
“The European Union grant was timely. We were able to respond to the basic needs of refugees including water, shelter and protection at the peak of the influx in April 2017,” said Mr Emanu in a statement. The project, launched at the beginning of last year, provided water, sanitation and hygiene services to refugees and host communities in Yumbe, Arua, Moyo and Adjumani districts.
The most vulnerable refugees also benefited from new semi-permanent homes and services to keep them safe from violence and disease. Over 14,000 vulnerable people were reached with special care for sexual and gender-based violence, illness or for being elderly or physically disabled.
According to the statement, three solar powered water systems were put up and 10 hand pumps drilled to improve access to clean water.
Mr Emanu explained that the safe water supply greatly helped to improve hygiene and sanitation practices and, by extension, reduce the cases of water borne diseases like diarrhoea and malaria. Officials said that as the number of school going children increased, 36 Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) centres were set up by Save the Children to ensure that children are protected and get a chance to learn and play.
“The ECCD centres have provided safe spaces where children can exercise their right to play, associate and enjoy their childhood,” said Mr Cephas Hamba, Save the Children Project Manager.
He added: “7,835 children have been attended to by our caregivers to address their traumas, isolation and nightmares resulting from the tragedies they experienced back in South Sudan.” Ms Delphine Pinault, the CARE Uganda Country Director said: “The link between access to improved water, sanitation and hygiene services and prevention of gender based violence has proven evident through this intervention.
Our integrated approach has given many women and girls their dignity back.” Development agencies say that while so many lives have been transformed by the project, a lot still remains to be done because funding for the South Sudan crisis remains low with a glaring gap of 62 percent. The government of Uganda, in coordination with UNHCR, still needs $541.5million to respond effectively according to the last appeal.