Refugee hosting districts in Uganda still lack basic services like water, sanitation and shelter

New report details situation of child poverty and deprivation among refugees and host communities

06 June 2018
refugees from Democratic Republic of Congo
UNICEF Uganda/2017/Ntabadde

KAMPALA – 6 June 2018 - People living in Uganda’s refugee hosting districts – both people from host communities and refugees - are deprived of basic services like water, sanitation and shelter.

This, according to a study on Child Poverty and Deprivation in Refugee Hosting Areas by the Economic Policy Research Center (EPRC), the University of Cardiff and UNICEF, which assessed child poverty, deprivation and social service delivery in refugee and host communities in West Nile, the South West, and Kampala. 

“This study represents the first attempt to compare child poverty and deprivation in host and refugee communities in Uganda” said Sarah Ssewanyana, EPRC’s Executive Director. “Globally, it represents the first application of a consensual approach to measuring poverty and deprivation in emergency situations.”
Key findings of the study include:

• Refugee children are more deprived of necessities. For items perceived by the majority of the population to be necessities for children, refugee children are more deprived than children from host communities, ranging from 8 per cent to 32 per cent depending on the item.  For example, the report states “refugee children are much less likely to receive gifts on special occasions and less likely to have new sets of clothes than host children.”

  • Deprivation among refugees tends to reduce over time. For some basic services such as water, sanitation and shelter, recent arrivals are the most deprived. Within five years of residence, however, deprivation rates among refugees are on a par with those of host communities; the reason being that levels of deprivation among host communities are already high.
  • Access to services tends to be similar for both host and refugee communities. Apart from a concentration of refugee-specific social service interventions in West Nile – which can be explained partly by the state of emergency there – host and refugee communities in the same area tend to experience similar social service conditions.
  • There is an urgent need to facilitate integration. To sustain the lives and livelihoods of refugees and people in host communities, there is a need to facilitate the full integration of refugees and host communities.
  • A special focus in refugee-receiving districts is required. Overall, both refugee and host communities experience a significant level of deprivation. Although conditions for refugees improve over time, basic needs deprivation among hosts remains high – in some cases higher than among refugees, such as water and shelter in West Nile.

“We need to go beyond emergency response to build the systems and capacities of all social services in refugee hosting districts,” said Dr. Doreen Mulenga, UNICEF’s Representative in Uganda.  “Only by doing so - with health, nutrition, education, water, sanitation, and child protection services, among others – will we reduce the multiple deprivations experienced by tens of thousands of refugee children and children in host communities.”

The study recommends to: expand access to basic social services and improve quality and efficiency; improve institutional mechanisms for delivering social services; boost household food security; introduce the accelerated education programme; provide employment and livelihood support to urban refugees; foster better cohesion and integration between refugees and hosts; improve the balance between refugee and host community programming; and routinely monitor multidimensional poverty in humanitarian contexts to inform programming

Download the report


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About Economic Policy Research Centre

Founded in 1993, the Economic Policy Research Centre is a reputable, credible and independent policy think tank. Based in Uganda, it is known for providing research-based evidence and policy analysis to support the formulation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the country's government policies. For more information on EPRC,