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Graduation and Refugees Initiative Expands to Uganda

By: Helen Greene




Trickle Up


Trickle Up, AVSI, and IMPAQ International receive award from USAID to support 13,200 households in Uganda.

This past fall, Trickle Up, in consortium with AVSI and IMPAQ International, was awarded a grant from U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID’s) Office of Food for Peace to pilot a Graduation program for refugees in Uganda. As part of Trickle Up’s larger Graduation & Refugees Initiative, the Kamwenge Graduation Activity will be implemented to improve food and nutrition security, self-reliance, and resilience among 13,200 extremely poor households in Kamwenge District in western Uganda. Half of the households will be refugees, mostly from South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the other 6,600 households will be Ugandans living in extreme poverty in host communities. The project will directly work with 26,400 individual participants, and indirectly benefit an additional 39,600 household members and neighbors.

Trickle Up will provide technical assistance, contributing expertise on issues related to refugees and livelihood aspects of Graduation, leading gender integration, and leveraging institutional assets to benefit the shared goals of the project.

Uganda is home to one of the largest refugee populations in the world, and is a fascinating country to study the Graduation Approach in refugee and host community contexts. Like many countries today, Uganda is facing a tremendous new influx of refugees (nearly 1.4 million), testing the country’s response, resources, and openness. The country has one of the most open policies for refugees, providing them with the right to work, the freedom to move freely, and even small plots of land to build a home and start a new life. Uganda is also one of the first countries to implement the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework, a global initiative set out in the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants to strengthen refugee self-reliance and inclusion, and test creative responses to refugee crises by convening funders, private sector actors, development practitioners, and humanitarian actors.

With this grant, USAID is supporting Uganda’s “Refugee and Host Population Empowerment (ReHope) Strategic Framework.”

Launched in June 2017 in partnership with the United Nations, the World Bank, and implementing partners, ReHope is “a transformative strategy to bring together a wide range of stakeholders in a harmonized and cohesive manner to ensure more effective programming. It is a response to specific challenges faced in delivering protection and achieving social and economic development for both refugee and host communities.”

On September 19, 2017, Uganda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Honorable Oryem Henry Okello spoke at the United Nations saying: “I was a refugee from Uganda when I was 11 years old…I know what it is to be a refugee, and half of the cabinet were refugees at some point. We need to avoid the risk of creating a dependency syndrome, and instead we need empowerment strategies to complement our policies about land, free movement, identification cards… Above all we need to tap into the skills and education of the refugees to benefit our own national development.”

The Kamwenge Graduation Activity will provide Trickle Up the opportunity to lead the testing of the Graduation Approach through a distinct gender lens while continuing its commitment to using the best techniques to monitor, evaluate, track impact, and bring to scale. Together with AVSI and IMPAQ International, Trickle Up will help both refugees and host communities in Uganda reach sustainable food and nutrition security, self-reliance, and resilience.