Why are South Sudan refugees in Uganda wary of plans to provide them with money rather than food rations? Apophia Agiresaasi explores this in the Global Press Journal special report.
Monthly rations include particular items because they have been considered by WVU and the WFP as having value for families. Rations are part of the overall support for families living in the Rhino camp. Part of the WFP’s work in Uganda is to reduce malnutrition rates. They hope to achieve this by providing vulnerable populations with ‘specialized nutritious food, nutrition-sensitive cash transfers, nutrition counseling and communication aimed at promoting the consumption of more nutritious food.’WFP
Refugees in Uganda
Uganda hosts the ‘world’s third-largest refugee population‘. This landlocked country produces more food than it consumes. Unfortunately, peoples access to nutritious food has been limited by poverty. People have fled to Uganda from South Sudan, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo, leading to this country hosting more refugees than any other African country.
World Vision Uganda started working there in 1986. Providing relief and resettlement packages after the ‘1981-1986 war’, now operating in over fifty districts. They are responsible for fifty-three area development programmes. To date over ‘128,633 registered children benefit from World Vision Uganda’s work.’
In order to encourage self-sufficiency, the government ‘gives refugees plots of land to cultivate’. Regardless of the size of the family, their plots measure ‘30 meters by 30 meters (98.4 feet by 98.4 feet)’. People are encouraged to create a home and to consider developing the space as a farm or business.
Refugees Receiving Money Instead of Food Rations
Refugees at Rhino camp receive food rations of ‘Ugandan staples such as beans, cowpeas and mealie meal, a maize flour.’This is made possible by World Vision Uganda, with support from the World Food Programme. South Sudan refugees getting money rather than food rations is seen as being in support of refugees. Providing them with ‘purchasing power, capital to start small businesses and the opportunity to diversify their diets.‘
These plans are being met with mixed reactions by families. The option to purchase items not currently available within the food rations can be appealing but access to shops can be an issue for some people. Travelling can also bring additional costs for families. This could directly affect peoples ability to use their purchasing power when attempting to consume more diverse food products.