Monica Wenzu a South Sudanese refugee in Rhino camp in Arua district takes a cup of coffee.

Standing with refugees through provision of shelter, water and livelihood services

In Uganda, the Danish Refugee Council stand with refugees together with the government and partners - on World Refugee Day as well as all other days of the year. Read the story here


Monica Wenzu and her 10- year old grandson Lazuru Azai now have a better house in which to live compared to when they first arrived in Uganda in September 2017.

Wenzu and Azai fled conflict in their home town of Yei, South Sudan. ”There was killing and fighting everywhere,” said Wenzu. ”We had to run away”.

Wenzu and her grandson live in Rhino Camp refugee settlement in Arua district in the West Nile region. They are part of more than a million South Sudanese refugees in northern Uganda.

For being open and welcoming, Uganda has been hailed as an exemplary model for refugee response. Wenzu and her grandson are beneficiaries of Ugandan generosity.

”The people in Uganda have been good. I have not had any problems with them since I came,” she said between sipping a cup of coffee she had brewed from a charcoal stove under a tree in her compound.

Shelters for the elderly and weak

July 2016 is when the influx of South Sudanese refugees into Uganda began.  Presence of the refugees gave rise to urgent need for basic services like clean water, sanitation facilities, shelter, food and a means of livelihood besides humanitarian assistance.

The Danish Refugee Council (DRC) in Uganda with the support of donors like the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), European Union Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid(ECHO), European Union Emergency Trust Fund(EUTF), UK Aid, Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) and Danida among others, has been working to compliment the efforts of the Uganda government and other humanitarian actors to enable refugees in the country to live a dignified life amid the challenges that come with displacement.

Unlike the young and energetic, during displacement the old, sickly and child-headed households face challenges in erecting shelter.

The house in which Wenzu and her grandson live was built under a DRC led consortium funded by the European Union Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid. Other members of the consortium include Lutheran World Federation, Windle International Uganda and REACH Initiative.

”This house is better than the old one I had. The old one leaked. I am enjoying living in the new house,” said Wenzu who does not know how old she is but describes herself as ”old”.

DRC and its partner the Lutheran World Federation(LWF) are building 960 shelters for vulnerable person in the West Nile region. So far 250 shelters have been completed.

”As soon as I entered the new house, I felt better,” said Grace Asero 68, a resident of Palorinya refugee settlement in Moyo district. She shares her new house with her 80- year old husband.

Addressing water needs

At the peak of the influx of South Sudanese refugees in Uganda, the need for clean water was urgent. ”There were long queues of women and young girls at water points,” said John Paul Mwaniki, a Water and Sanitation Emergency Coordinator with DRC.

Today the water situation in Rhino camp is much better than it was in 2017, thanks to solar powered water systems built with support from European Union Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid.


A staff of the Lutheran World Federation(LWF) and the Danish Refugee Council at a solar powered water system in Adjumani.

”The systems in Rhino camp produce 413,500 litres of water per day benefitting 27,560 individuals,” explained Mwaniki.

A similar system in neighbouring Imvepi refugee settlement built with the support of UK Aid produces 400,000 liters per day, benefiting 26,250 individuals.  The water is used by both refugees and their host community.

Livelihoods for refugees & hosts

Alternative sources of livelihood for refugees besides humanitarian assistance is critical to a more sustainable livelihood. In Uganda DRC and its partners is supporting the government of Uganda to stand with refugees through provision of livelihood opportunities for both refugees and host communities to start small scale businesses.

Jackson Moranita’s group of 15 received a 10-million-shilling grant which they used to buy a grinding mill. The mill in Ofua 5 in Rhino camps brings in between 30,000- 70,000 shilling per day for the group.

”We grind maize, sorghum and millet for the community here. But our group’s plan is to buy our own seeds, grind, package and sell it,” said Jackson Moranita, the leader of the group.

Rose Dawa, 37, a member of the group is optimistic that profits from the grinding mill which began to operate a month ago will benefit their families. ”I will use the money from the mill to support my other small business of selling household items in the market,” said Dawa, a mother of eight.


Through the European Union Emergency Trust Fund (EUTF) support programme for refugee settlements in northern Uganda, 25,102 individuals including refugees and Ugandan nationals have benefited from livelihood projects like chicken rearing.

DRC is the lead in another consortium funded by the European Union Emergency Trust Fund (EUTF) support programme for refugee settlements in northern Uganda, a four year programme already in its second year which seeks to sustainably improve food security, nutrition and livelihoods of the refugee population and host communities.  NGO Members of the consortium includes Save the Children, ZOA and Community Empowerment for Rural Development (CEFORD). The NGO consortium’s efforts is complimented by the Austrian Development Agency (safe water and improvement of environmental sanitation) and Enable (former Belgian Technical Cooperation) which focuses on skilling refugees and host communities to support their livelihoods.

From 2016 to April 2018, the project has benefited 25,102 individuals belonging to 1,151 farmer groups. Daniel Moro’s group is a member of one of the farmer groups that benefitted. ”This project is an opportunity for us refugees to re-settle afresh, engage in agriculture and earn an income that will support us when we return to South Sudan,” said Moro.

Peaceful co-existence of refugees and host communities

In the refugee hosting areas in northern Uganda, facilities constructed under the Uganda refugee response is benefiting both refugees and hosts.  Under the Northern Uganda Resilience Initiative (NURI), DRC with the support of Danida has in the last one year constructed 28.1 kms of community access roads in Rhino camp, a market and latrines. Of the 28.1 kms of road, 10.1 kms is in the host communities while 18kms is in the refugee settlement.

”The refugees and hosts jointly chose which facilities they wanted. The roads and market is promoting co-existence,” said Martin Malinga, the Programme Manager NURI.