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Why refugees’ self-reliance is important.

February 25, 2020

Our new volunteer Marina Munoz writes about her experiences living for a year in Nairobi. She observed the difficulties that refugees experience integrating in Kenya and addresses the benefits of Uganda’s approach to refugees and how IRT contributes to it. Uganda: A Role Model for Refugee Integration Uganda, as of February 2020, hosts around 1.4 […]

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Our new volunteer Marina Munoz writes about her experiences living for a year in Nairobi. She observed the difficulties that refugees experience integrating in Kenya and addresses the benefits of Uganda’s approach to refugees and how IRT contributes to it.

Uganda: A Role Model for Refugee Integration

Uganda, as of February 2020, hosts around 1.4 m refugees that run from political instability and violence from neighbouring countries such as Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan. Despite the massive influx of refugees, Uganda is considered one of the most progressive refugee hosting countries in the world because of their ‘Refugee Self-Reliance Strategy’. Under this model, refugees have the right to work and move freely within the country, which is believed to have supported the national economy’s development. Moreover, Uganda’s government has been allocating plots of land for these refugees so they can grow their own food, which makes them less dependent on food aid, boosting their self-esteem and providing them with useful skills that they can use in rebuilding their communities upon return.

How is IRT working towards the achievement of this goal?

IRT acknowledges the importance of self-sufficiency for refugees by partnering with the Organisation for Community Action (OCA) which operates in Uganda, and aims to empower people to force a positive change through their StepUp Programme.

StepUp is divided in four main areas: sustainable agriculture, social ventures, savings, credit, gender and community development. In order to promote sustainable agriculture, better farming as well as crop management skills are taught. The social venture project is mainly focused on three enterprises: improving hygiene, raising awareness about solar lighting and production of sanitary pads. As a member of the community expressed: “I was very ignorant because I did not go to school. Because of OCA, I acquired a lot of knowledge. I now use a sewing machine and make reusable sanitary towels for women and young girls in the community”. Refugees were also trained to manage their own finances, explore small scale business opportunities and loan record keeping. As another member of the community indicated: “OCA taught me how to do business, and I thought about selling cooking oil, soap and onions. The business is helping me in paying school fees, that is why I thank OCA for the plan that they gave me”. Lastly, IRT aims to empower women within their own community encouraging them to take on leadership roles and offering girls basic education. As refugees, Aceng Collin and Ogwal Bruno, shared: “I thought girl-child education was useless, I never advised my children to study hard. We did not bother to check their report cards. When OCA came in, they trained us on the importance of education and encouraged us to give our girls equal treatment as the boys.” 

My experience in Kenya compared to Uganda

I think that IRT’s support to the StepUp Programme is crucial to ensure the self-sufficiency of refugees to remind them of their autonomy and agency. Fleeing one’s home is a traumatic experience for many refugees, normally having terrible consequences for their mental health, self-confidence and integration in the host society. During my experience last year living in Kenya where there is an encampment law that does not allow refugees to leave the refugee camps, I understood how relevant projects like StepUp are to provide refugees with the skills to depend on themselves and integrate. IRT acknowledges this issue and needs your support to make the life of refugees in Uganda much better.


WaSH – Boreholes

January 31, 2020

What is a Borehole? Boreholes are narrow wells operated by hand pumps, which tap into the deep water reserves of aquifers (underground layers of water-bearing permeable rock), providing safe, accessible and reliable water for entire communities. IRT are working to fund boreholes in rural northern Uganda. It costs IRT £3000 to install a Borehole. This […]

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Water, Sanitation, Hygiene

What is a Borehole?

Boreholes are narrow wells operated by hand pumps, which tap into the deep water reserves of aquifers (underground layers of water-bearing permeable rock), providing safe, accessible and reliable water for entire communities. IRT are working to fund boreholes in rural northern Uganda.

It costs IRT £3000 to install a Borehole.

This is small price to pay to ensure that no child has to choose between an education and safe water.

Following a period of high population growth, 22 million people in Uganda lack access to safe drinking water – that’s 51% of the Ugandan population. High demand and poor management mean there is a fundamental lack of facilities providing clean water, leading to the spread of chronic waterborne diseases such as diarrhoea and cholera. One effective solution is borehole wells, sources of fresh water which are created by drilling into the ground.

The construction of a Borehole.

The Ugandan government has previously installed boreholes during the creation of camps set up for villagers to flee to during the terrifying insurgency of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). Following the aftermath of the LRA’s destruction, internally displaced Ugandans have been able to move back to their homes, where they are now hours away from the camp boreholes. Villagers are faced with the choice of trekking several miles a day to fetch clean water from camps or make shorter trips to contaminated water sources such as unprotected springs. Often, the job of fetching water falls on women and girls, reinforcing gender inequality as they are unable to work or go to school as a result of travelling on foot for 4 or 5 hours a day.


WaSH – Toilets (Roots)

January 29, 2020

ROOTS The treatment and disposal of human waste is becoming increasingly important as the world’s population increases. Every year, over 2 million children die from diarrhoeal diseases – the second most serious killer of children under the age of 5 (WHO). The main source of such infections is human excreta. Clearly, the effective management of […]

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Water, Sanitation, Hygiene

ROOTS

The treatment and disposal of human waste is becoming increasingly important as the world’s population increases.

Every year, over 2 million children die from diarrhoeal diseases – the second most serious killer of children under the age of 5 (WHO). The main source of such infections is human excreta. Clearly, the effective management of human waste is key to reducing infant deaths worldwide.

In the developing world, many people use pit latrines

These consist of a hole in the ground, which may be unlined or lined, with a reinforcing material to contain human excreta. They generally provide little shelter or security. Moreover, larger pit latrines, which are often used in schools, are prone to collapsing into the holes over which they are built.

In Uganda, studies have shown that most pupils in rural schools are demotivated by the poor hygiene and sanitation facilities. Pit latrines often lack privacy, have poor ventilation, inadequate hand-washing facilities, and present a high chance of contracting air- and water-borne diseases. Girls especially are likely to drop out of school because of the lack of privacy

New eco-san lavatory blocks at Adoma Primary School, northern Uganda, alongside old pit-latrine block.

In Uganda, IRT is working together with Wessex Social Ventures and our local partners, Organisation for Community Action, to tackle this appalling situation through a scheme known as ‘Roots’. Under Petal, micro-enterprises produce ‘eco-san lavatories’ in schools. These enable the conversion of human waste into 100% natural fertiliser. The fertiliser is then sold to local farmers at a lower price than other commercial alternatives.

Pupils pose for a picture in front of the newly-constructed eco-san lavatory block at Adoma Primary School, northern Uganda.

The Roots scheme confers enormous benefits.

For the user, it reduces the chances of contracting disease and is both safe and discreet. The school is able to avoid the repetitive and costly task of filling-in existing pit latrines when they fill up, and having to construct replacement toilet blocks. Roots also removes the barrier to girls attending school, especially during menstruation. For the local community, the gains are apparent in a reduction in the spread of disease and the prevention of soil contamination. For the fertiliser customer, the end product can be 70% cheaper than alternatives, and has also been shown to increase crop yields. The entrepreneurs running the Roots micro-enterprises are able to establish a sustainable income over the long term, allowing them to afford healthcare and an education for their children (secondary schooling in Uganda is not free).

“IRT believes that it is a human right to have access to safe, secure and private lavatory facilities, and is committed to continuing to fund and spread the Roots scheme in Uganda”.

Steven Smith, CEO of IRT
Access hatches to waste collection buckets at rear of eco-san lavatory block.
Access hatches to waste collection buckets at rear of eco-san lavatory block.
A pupil poses for a picture in front of the newly-constructed eco-san lavatory block at Adoma Primary School, northern Uganda.