IDPs in North Uganda
In the North, particularly in Gulu and Kitgum districts, twelve years of violence by the rebel group, the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) has forced over 330,000 people from their homes. A further 24,000 are estimated to have been abducted, including 6,000 children according to UNICEF estimates. These people have either congregated in "protected villages", moved in with host families, or have found shelter in public buildings. The instability and relocation have prevented farming in many cases and has resulted in a food shortage among the displaced, although some are able to cultivate in their new location. Over the reporting period, the security situation has generally been stable and some of the IDPs have been able to move out of the protected camps to return to their villages (OCHA - 15/09/99).
Despite the relative calm, there are still urgent unmet needs in Kitgum and Gulu according to a recent report by OCHA. The districts lack adequate qualified staff for the provision of many local government social services due to the continued fear of insecurity in the area and a poor tax base due to the displacement. Although IDPs are able to cultivate increasing amounts of land, some food aid remains an absolute requirement. WFP continues to provide food assistance to approximately 318,000 IDPs in both districts. In addition to the general food distributions, WFP assists with food for school children and food-for-work projects. At the time of going to print, over 60% of the resources for this emergency operation were still to be resourced (OCHA - 19/07/99; WFP - 05/09/99, 15/09/99).
There have been no new nutritional surveys amongst the IDPs in Gulu or Kitgum during the reporting period. The most recent surveys, which were conducted in March, estimated the prevalence of acute wasting between 4.9-7.0% depending on the district (see RNIS 27).
IDPs in Western Uganda
There are an estimated 106,000 IDPs in Bundibugyo District who have been displaced by attacks by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF). The beginning of the reporting period (July) was characterised by an increased number of attacks on civilians in this area, including attacks on people trying to cultivate their land with a security escort. However, security has improved since a visit to the district by President Museveni who ordered extra troops into the area. The enhanced security has allowed relief agencies to carry out their activities uninterrupted (OCHA - 19/07/99, 15/09/99).
A "back to the village" strategy which aims to encourage IDPs in densely crowded urban areas to move to camps closer to their fields has been put on hold until the deployment of all the newly arrived troops is completed. There are some concerns about the voluntary nature of the movement to, and presence in the new camps, although district officials guarantee that the strategy is strictly voluntary (OCHA -13/08/99, 15/09/99).
The most recent survey undertaken in Bundibugyo District reported that the area was facing a public health crisis, with massive overcrowding and very poor sanitary facilities and water of unknown quality. A high number of deaths due to diarrhoea was reported (see RNIS 27). Since this survey some of the most urgent needs - such as the water supply and sanitation facilities - have been addressed by relief organisations and the number of cases of cholera has decreased dramatically. WFP is in the process of establishing a permanent presence in the District in order to continue delivering food assistance to the IDPs, however the EMOP is seriously under-funded (OCHA - 13/08/99).
An MOH/UNICEF/WFP joint assessment mission to Kasese conducted in late July reported that the nutritional situation of 25,000 IDPs living in camps, and several thousand more living with relatives or integrated into communities, has deteriorated in recent months. The WFP nutritionist estimated that between 2-3,000 children were in need of supplementary feeding, although as the report is not yet available to the RNIS the basis of this figure is unknown. The IDPs, who have been displaced for 2-3 years due to ADF attacks in the area, had been receiving food rations from ICRC until October 1998 when ICRC was forced to suspend distributions and some other activities due to security concerns. The mission identified several factors other than the lack of food assistance which may have contributed to the poor nutritional status including: malaria, the recent drought and the decrease in accessibility of land due to insecurity (OCHA - 13/08/99; WFP - 23/08/99).
WFP completed a one month ration distribution to 28,000 IDPs in the district in August. ICRC will probably continue providing food and non-food items in the future (OCHA - 15/09/99).
The Government of Uganda has indicated that 700,000 people have been affected by drought in 28 districts and require food assistance. According to the Government report, the late onset of rains in the first season combined with a variety of other factors such as the breakdown of bore holes, silting and drying-up of valley dams, burning of pastureland and cassava mosaic have badly affected many farmers and cattle owners. WFP is organising an assessment of the situation at the household and district level (OCHA - 15/09/99; WFP - 15/09/99).
An estimated 155,000 Sudanese refugees benefit from WFP assistance in Uganda. A further 20,000 no longer receive food assistance as they are considered self-sufficient (WFP - 15/09/99). There have been no nutritional surveys in the camps in the reporting period, the most recent survey estimated the prevalence of acute wasting at 5.6% in Kiryandongo camp (see RNIS 27). The latest UNHCR epidemiological report (June) estimated total CMR at 0.11/10,000/day and under-five mortality 0.45/10,000/day. The most common causes of death were malaria, diarrhoea. No deterioration in the nutritional status of the refugees was noted (UNHCR - 09/07/99).
The official WFP caseload of Rwandan, Burundian, Congolese and Somali refugees in Uganda stands at approximately 17,600. There is no new information on their nutritional status which was reported to be adequate in March (WFP - 03/06/99).
Overall, the nutritional situation has been relatively stable in Uganda over the reporting period. However, the IDPs in Bundibugyo, Kitgum, Gulu and Kasese are considered to be at moderate risk of malnutrition, partially because the WFP EMOP for this population is under-resourced (category IIb). The nutritional situation of the refugees is not considered to be critical (category IIc).
Priorities and Recommendations:
· Support WFP's programme for IDP's in Uganda.
· Assess the nutritional situation of the IDPs in Kasese District.