Uganda hosts more refugees than any other country in Africa: there were over 1.4 million in 2017. The high number has put significant strains on the humanitarian system making it necessary to reduce food assistance to many refugees. The study aimed to examine vulnerability among Uganda’s refugee population and assess whether the targeting mechanism being used by the World Food Programme to select refugees for food assistance was effectively identifying the most vulnerable.
The research found that, in reality, the vast majority of refugees continued to be vulnerable. Even with food assistance, 68 per cent of refugees were living on less than $1.68 (PPP) per day. In the absence of food assistance, this would have increased to 80 per cent of refugees. Only a very small proportion of refugees were living on more than $5.00 (PPP) per day, a level that may indicate some level of self-reliance. In fact, only 2 per cent of refugees were found to be food secure, despite the majority receiving food assistance.
Indeed, despite efforts by the Government of Uganda and donors to support self-reliance among refugees, there was little evidence that the policy was working, except for a very small proportion of them. For example, very few had domestic animals and many had garden plots that were well below the minimum that they were supposed to receive. Further, the targeting mechanism used to identify recipients of food assistance had many errors, including among the most vulnerable households.
The report concluded that the self-reliance model for refugees that was used in Uganda would need to be re-thought. The targeting of food assistance would also need to be reformed. Indeed, given the scale of the challenge, it was clear that support from international donors would be required for many years to come.
Following the report, WFP reformed its targeting and began to provide every refugee with a full package of food assistance, a form of universal support.
Read the paper here.