The World Bank has approved a grant of USD 150 million (Shs 560bn) additional financing from the International Development Association (IDA) to boost an ongoing project to improve access to basic social services for refugees and host communities in Uganda.
The funds will also go towards expanding economic opportunities, and enhancing environmental management targeting both refugees and communities that host them.
The USD 150 million project is financed through the IDA 18 Refugee Sub Window.
Uganda is currently the largest refugee-hosting country in Africa and the third largest worldwide. Approximately 1.2 million refugees and asylum seekers are living in Uganda due to ongoing conflicts and instability in some parts of the region.
World Bank said in a statement on Thursday that the additional financing builds on an initial USD 50 million-project approved by the World Bank Board IN 2016 and will go to the Development Response to Displacement Impacts Project (DRDIP) which covers 11 districts that host the largest number of refugees and “bear a disproportionate amount of strain on existing community social services and infrastructure”.
The project is implemented by the Office of the Prime Minister.
“It supports investments in basic social service infrastructure, integrated natural resources management and income generating activities including alternative livelihoods like value-addition to agriculture produce, and fish farming,” the World Bank said in its statement.
The project also seeks to strengthen transparency and accountability while addressing social risk management and gender-based violence.
Prime Minister, Dr Ruhakana Rugunda welcomed the support from the World Bank which he said will “boost our efforts in responding to the needs of refugees and communities hosting them”.
“It is a strong demonstration of solidarity with us, which we appreciate. As we all know, no one chooses to be a refugee, and therefore, responding to the needs of refugees and the generous communities that host them requires our collective support,” said Prime Minister Rugunda.
The Development Response to Displacement Impacts Project is part of a regional operation – also being implemented in Ethiopia, Kenya and Djibouti. The World Bank has significantly scaled up support in Uganda through its Forced Displacement Program. In addition to the DRDIP and the Additional Financing operation, two other projects have already been approved by the World Bank’s Board.
Tony Thompson, the Country Manager for World Bank in Uganda said; “Uganda’s progressive approach to refugees provides some of the best prospects for self-reliance”.
“This grant shows that the international community – and the World Bank – greatly appreciates Uganda’s generosity towards refugees. We look forward to working very closely with other development and humanitarian partners to support the government and the people of Uganda in these efforts,” he said .