NIRAS has been chosen to take over management of a EUR10-million programme to support refugees in Uganda as it takes in more than one million people fleeing violence in South Sudan
A refugee crisis requires immediate action
In late 2017, the Ugandan Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) with funding from the German development bank (KfW) established the Refugee Response Fund (RRF), representing a EUR10-million commitment to meet some of the most urgent needs of South Sudanese refugees fleeing ongoing violence in their home country. By the end of 2017, enormous numbers of refugees from South Sudan had entered Uganda and were living primarily in informal refugee settlements in rural areas, often in close proximity to local communities.
With a goal of immediately alleviating some of the critical issues faced both by refugees and host communities, an interim consultant supported the Office of the Prime Minister to get the fund off the ground, by selecting and overseeing fast-tracked interventions in education and water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH), which are being implemented by Oxfam and Save the Children. Yet moving forward, the fund at overall level and the funded projects require more in-depth management and oversight. NIRAS was selected to manage the fund full-time, taking over the responsibility in February, 2019. The programme is expected to run until at least the end of October, 2020, but an extension is likely.
Graphic credit: UNHCR 2019
Managing the immediate response – and preparing for the future
As a part of managing the fund, the NIRAS team streamlined the processes for working with the implementing partners so funds can be used most effectively. Given that the international community has mobilised a significant response, of which this programme constitutes only a portion, the team is also supporting the Office of the Prime Minister in coordinating such activities. This task is made easier by the fact that the NIRAS team is based in the OPM’s Department of Refugees, where all of Uganda’s refugee programmes are anchored.
The initial fast-tracked interventions in education and WASH are ongoing, and working with the implementing partners is another key part of the work. Save the Children is implementing the education project in Bidibidi Settlement, building schools and housing for teachers and establishing sustainable programmes to maintain quality education. Oxfam is implementing the WASH project in Rhino Camp, upgrading water supply and sewage treatment systems for the community. NIRAS acts as helpdesk for the NGOs during the implementation of these major interventions, working to maximise effectiveness.
An image from the education project currently being implemented by Save the Children
Finally, KfW anticipates that the RRF could receive additional funding in the future for projects beyond the fast-tracked ones already initiated. If additional funding is pledged, the team will be responsible for creating appropriate processes for needs assessments and project selection, as well as updating the fund’s governance depending on the partners involved. This represents a second phase of the programme, and preparing for this second phase may become a major component of NIRAS’s current tasks.