BUILDING COMMUNITY RESILIENCE AND SELF RELIANCE AMIDST CONFLICT
Since the onset of the conflicts in South Sudan in 2014, over 800,000 South Sudanese fled their homes to Uganda seeking safety from the fighting. Oxfam has been responding to the South Sudanese refugee influx since the onset of the conflicts in 2014, and with funding from agencies and affiliates like KLUB, Oxfam IBIS, Oxfam Hong Kong and Oxfam Belgium, we have been able to enroll youths-- both refugees and host community members in vocational skills training, bricklaying and concrete practice, tailoring, hairdressing, motor repairs, carpentry among others.
Besides the vocational skills, refugees have also been supported with agricultural inputs in form of vegetable seeds, beans, groundnuts, onions, as well as farm tools like hoes, garden forks among others. They have also been trained in general agronomy, group dynamics, farming as a business and post-harvest handling.
Read some of the stories from the benefactors of the Livelihoods project.
Aisha is one of the Ugandan host community members in Bidibidi Refugee settlement that benefited from Oxfam’s livelihoods project. The project, funded by KLUB saw the training of over 90 people, both South Sudanese refugees and host community members, to receive training in tailoring/sewing for 3 months. This training is a tool aimed at empowering refugee and host communities with professional skills and promote their independence and financial self-sufficiency.
Read her story here.
"Using my hands and creating something beautiful earns me a living and it also calms me down. The lady and gentleman who teach the tailoring class were like parental figures for us, and I am grateful for that" Isaac Gereny, a 24-year-old refugee from South Sudan settled in Bidibidi.
Read more about Isaac here.
Kennedy received training in barber work and haircutting, after which he set up his business at the trading centre in Bidibidi and notes that he now feels empowered to support his mother and siblings, for whom he has bought clothing, change of diet, and hired land for farming. All this is through the salon business that earns him not less than 15,000 Uganda shillings daily.
Read Kennedy's story here.
After a three months training run by Oxfam to empower Youth in Bidibidi Refugee Settlement, both Refugees and the host community, Samuel Towongo attained construction skills.
He first worked with NIKTECH, a local construction company on return from the training, where he prides in having put up a number of latrine structures within the settlement and in the neighbourhood.
Samuel has since taken on self-employment because of increased demand for his services. In a month, he earns about 300,000 shillings, a portion of which he saves and uses the rest to take care of himself and his family.
Inawayi Farmers’ group of 20 members is a representative of the 5 goat rearing groups that maximized the Oxfam’s income enhancement program. Each member was given a she-goat to breed, with the goal to alleviate poverty in their homes. The group was then given one he-goat to mate with all the female goats, and this has increased the number of goats owned by the group members.
To commence the kitchen gardening, Poni received training, tools like fork and garden hoes, and assorted seeds that included tomatoes, g-nuts, onions, and leafy vegetables like Okra. She is now happy that she can enhance the nutritional alternatives for her family and earn an additional income from the sale of surplus produce in the camp markets.
Iyibu co-operative is a group of smallholder farmers, consisting of both refugees and host community members from Kitoli Village in Bidibidi settlement. The group has been involved in producing tree seedlings to mitigate climate change amidst the growing weather changes. These members coming from both refugees and the host community have planted both fruit and non-fruit trees like eucalyptus, jack fruit, pawpaws, guavas, and oranges among others. From the previous season’s sale of tree seedlings, the group earned over 10 million shillings, a big portion of which was saved on the group savings scheme, and the rest was divided among the members, for their personal use.
With a significant membership of eight, Ngongitaling savings group was begun by the individuals themselves and has since been supported by Oxfam through the provision of training, saving boxes, among others. As a group, they meet every Wednesday and each makes a deposit of 10,000UGX on their accounts.
These Savings have helped reduce family fights because they have enabled many to start businesses, whose proceeds help them to meet their financial obligations like buying food, medicine, paying their children's school fees, among others.
They have sharpened themselves on the upsides of investment and are planning to employ their reserve funds to acquire an asset like a tricycle or milling machine to supplement their incomes.
Moses is a professional South Sudanese clinician who fled the clashes in his country and settled in Bidibidi Refugee settlement in 2016. He trailed on with his career upon settling here and the Oxfam Business Grant of 500,000 Uganda shillings has seen his clinic business blossom. He is happy and dreams of setting up and managing a bigger health care unit for himself. “I want to continue growing my business, and get required licenses to practice my profession,” he said.
God is Able is a group of 25 Refugees in Village3, Zone4, Bidibidi Settlement. They won 500,000UGX off an Agricultural competition that was organized by Oxfam during the World Food Day Fair in 2019 and has since used that money to hire land for cultivation.
This initiative has enhanced food security for not only the group members who are refugees but for the host community as well. “When we arrived in 2016, most of us did not know enough about farming and we used to only depend on the food rations given to us,” Richard, a member of God is Able Group narrates, adding. “But after we received training in farming as a business, we now have enough food to feed us and also sell; and we have our own incomes to improve our lives.”
The host community has been so hospitable and has continued to willingly share land for agriculture with refugees, as is the case with the land that God is Able Group leased from their winnings. This course of farming together has enhanced food security in Bidibidi Refugee settlement and the neighbouring community. This act is the surest way to peaceful co-existence between host communities and Refugees, which has equally strengthened collaboration and improved their financial wellbeing during the difficult times.
Ben Ondoga is a South Sudanese refugee and one of the beneficiaries of the business cash grant under the Livelihoods Project. He is minting big off his investment. After receiving a cash grant of 500,000(UGX), he topped up his 300,000 UGX and bought many items that he trades in his shop adjacent to the market in village1, cluster1, zone4, Bidibidi settlement. Ben is a champion of peaceful coexistence between the refugees and host community and with the increase in products and sales, he dreams of expanding his shop, to employ both Ugandan Nationals and his fellow refugees.
Faima Gune is a South Sudanese refugee who runs a vegetable stall and was empowered by Oxfam to add value to groundnuts by grinding them into a paste and packaging it. From her profits, she has been able to buy herself goats.
In village4, zone4 is Morojita VSLA that started as members were making energy saving stoves under the work for cash program. These energy-saving stoves were to mitigate environmental destruction caused by massive tree cut down in search of wood upon the arrival of refugees in Bidibidi Settlement. Later, they realized that through saving, their lives would not remain the same. They were empowered by Oxfam through VSLA training and provision of kits.