In 2014, Oruchinga settlement in Isingiro district suffered a terrible drought. This was a climax of a series of environmental challenges that threatened the livelihoods of the 6000+ refugees depending and surviving on the land.
On a 50 by 100 meter plot, refugees cultivate year in year out. The constant strain on the land coupled with the increasing populations’ demand for the same resources led to environmental deterioration.
HIJRA implemented various programmes to combat the severe situation. Resources were geared towards giving refugees skills and equipment to venture in to non-agricultural Income generating activities. However successful these efforts were, HIJRA livelihoods team sought to find sustainable climate resilient and environmentally friendly sources of income that both the refugees and the host community could adopt.
With funding from the United Nations development Programme (UNDP), HIJRA has this month began implementing activities that will ensure food security and improve climate resilience of the refugees in the settlement.
Daphne Nalumansi, Monitoring and Evaluating officer- HIJRA, said that the activities to be implemented will make use of a range of skills and natural resources.
“Some of the activities include fish caging which will be done in Lake Oruchinga, backyard gardening where we encourage the community to grow vegetables using drip irrigation, and establishment of mini-green houses that will be used to demonstrate good agronomic practices, which the community can then use with the grown distributed seedlings”
These activities will be implemented by developing and nurturing a community-based extension system that will ensure spill-over and adoption of a variety of climate risk management technologies and practices for a better livelihood.
“We will use the existing community structures to implement the project. For example, we use community based extension workers to pass on information and trainings to their community,” Daphne explained.
She added that fish caging and the mini green houses will be communally shared. “We will elect key community members responsible for the maintenance of the resources, and teach them their roles and responsibilities to ensure the protection of the community resources,” Daphne revealed.
The project will target the whole settlement but with more emphasis on the worst hit areas. “The host community in a radius of 1 kilometre of the settlement will also benefit from this project in line with the ReHoPE campaign,” Daphne added. She explained that vulnerable households will greatly benefit from the project too. “We are ensuring that households with People with Special needs, the elderly and foster families are major beneficiaries,” she said.
To ensure sustainability, the project will target active and productive households who will make good use of project resources. “Using people who are interested and experienced in the activities will ensure continued delivery of the desired results. This will attract the other community members to participate,” Daphne explained.