Raphael Magyezi the minister for local government has lauded refugees in Pagirinya settlement, Dzaipi sub-county in Adjumani district for embracing agriculture.
“When I came to Adjumani in 2021, the refugees used to only depend on food rations given to them by the World Food Program (WFP). I am really glad to see that they have embraced agriculture and aren’t depending on the food rations given to them by WFP,” Magyezi said.
He said this during his a two- day official visit to Adjumani district.
Magyezi said the move taken by the refugees with aid from Action Against Hunger is aimed at ending hunger in the settlement camps in Uganda.
Magyezi’s remarks came after WFP reduced food rations given to the refugees.
During the outbreak of COVID-19, the support that was given to the refugees was greatly reduced, which greatly affected their livelihood.
A report released by WFP in 2020 warned that UN’s food-assistance branch would reduce the monthly relief cash and food ratios for 1.26 million refugees in Uganda due to a funding shortfall.
The reduction started in February 2021, with only 60% of the refugees who were most vulnerable to receive a 100% food ratio.
A report released by Uganda Refugee Response Plan (RRP) 2020-2021 indicated that refugees living in Palorinya, Imvepi, Rhino Camp, Bidibidi, and Koboko settlements will receive their food entitlement at 70% ration, those in Adjumani, Kiryandongo, and Palabek will receive 60% and those in settlements in the southwest will receive 40% ration.
Magyezi noted that during his interaction with some of the refugees in the Dzaipi, they informed him that they are not willing to go back to their homes, especially at a time when they decided to engage in agriculture so as to earn a living.
“These people left their country because of various reasons but they have coexisted with the locals and they are now self-employed. How do you expect a person who is earning sh112m from one planting season to start thinking of going back to his or her home country where he or she will start from nothing again?
They are right to say that they don’t wish to return to their home countries,” Magyezi said.
He however expressed displeasure towards the locals who don’t want to engage in agriculture and later cry out to the government that they need jobs
Albert Siminyu, the country director for Action Against Hunger said in their areas of operation, they are helping refugees to access agricultural land from the landlords with the help of the local government.
He said through connections, they have promoted the coexistence of both the refugees and the host communities who have formed groups in which they practice communal farming together.
Alex Lou a refugee farmer in pargirinya settlement revealed that he has little hope of going back to his country because he has now made Uganda his new home.
He said through the groups they formed, they hired over 50 acres at sh9m for three years on which they planted cassava and got sh112m from their first harvest.
“We hired over 50 acres for sh9m for three years from a landlord and we collected sh112m from our harvest.
Why should I even go back to South Sudan yet am minting money from Uganda from my agricultural produces,” Lou said.