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Celebrating our growing Refugee programme on World Refugee Day

By Mandy Burrows, Senior Programme Manager

We have always had big plans for our work with refugees. However, when COVID and lockdowns hit, and with the withdrawal of UK Aid funding, the original project was scaled down to work in just one settlement (Nakvale Refugee Settlement) and with one partner (Opportunity Bank Uganda Ltd. (OBUL)). I don’t think even we could have imagined how quickly the project would grow in the 18 months following the Covid lockdowns in Uganda.

We have now established a refugee programme which has the potential to grow and grow. Building on RISE (Refugees: Innovation, Self-reliance & Empowerment), early in 2022, financial inclusion was expanded to serve urban refugees in Kampala and Mbarara. In October 2022, we embarked on a project (RISE-Transition) funded by the Dutch Government’s Challenge Fund for Youth Employment (CFYE), which will continue the financial inclusion element in Nakivale and expand it to Rwamwanja Refugee Settlement, while also creating 1,194 jobs and improving 1,560 jobs for refugee youth (for this project we will partner with PHB in Nakivale and Cohere in Rwamwanja).

Following the establishment of OBUL’s branch in Nakivale Refugee Settlement, which was officially opened by HRH The Princess Royal, Princess Anne in October 2022 and is one of OBUL’s most successful branches, OBUL are currently seeking to develop a branch in Rwamwanja.

Rwamwanja Settlement  
(Photos of Rwamwanja Settlement)

Rwamwanja Settlement

In April 2023, another refugee project began – this time with FINCA International as lead partner. This is a two-year pilot that will operate in Nakivale and Kiryandongo Refugee Settlements and in the urban space in Uganda, to help strengthen the capacity of Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres and to provide a link to financial institutions.

Back in March 2020, we conducted a baseline evaluation in Nakivale using participatory videos, in partnership with InsightShare – an expert in using media tools to give people a voice in participating with community projects. This was to capture refugee voices to help inform the project how to best serve them. Unfortunately, the process was cut short by the world going into lockdown.

 (Photos of participatory videos fieldwork in Nakivale Refugee Settlement, October 2022)

Training in Nakivale

It wasn’t until October 2022 that we were able to revisit and conduct a midline evaluation. Rather than obtaining a general view of life in the settlement (as we did in the baseline), we focused on capturing the 'Most Significant Change' in order to demonstrate the impact our programme  has had on individual refugee lives. Feedback was positive. Life still isn’t easy for many of the refugees but they are grateful for the presence of OBUL and for the commitment from OIUK.

 As always, the stories are truly inspiring. WATCH the summary video below:





For just £12.50 you could provide a refugee with the financial literacy training they need to build sustainable business. If you would like to support our growing refugee programme – please DONATE HERE.   

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