This is an excerpt of a blog originally published on Foodtank.
Refugee camps provide crucial safe zones for displaced people fleeing danger, but resource scarcity can lead to social tensions and exacerbate instability. In Uganda, a massive influx of refugees over the past several years has put a strain on humanitarian resources and the environment.
The U.N. refugee agency UNHCR and other humanitarian organizations managing the camps, have their hands full with the provision of lifesaving interventions.
More than 1.2 million refugees have found asylum in the country, the majority fleeing conflict in South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo over the past three years.
In Uganda, asylum seekers benefit from the government’s unique and progressive policy toward refugees, which allows them freedom of movement, the right to work and access to national services.
Most refugees live in designated settlements across 11 districts and in the capital Kampala. The government provides land, assigning small plots measuring 30 square meters. The land they receive provides them with the opportunity to produce some of their own food.
Refugees receive food provisions from the World Food Programme. They also receive monthly food rations once they are settled in their allocated plots. UNHCR partners support refugees with agricultural and livelihood activities to supplement dietary needs.
Treed areas are preferred by inhabitants because they offer an additional source of food, firewood, building materials and outdoor shelter, said Lalisa Duguma, a climate change researcher at World Agroforestry.
Over time, trees are often cut down without being replaced, exacerbating the potential for conflict over resources, an ever increasing number of refugee households adding pressure on the ecosystem.
Duguma and a team of researchers from World Agroforestry recognized the need to develop ecosystem and landscape management in the camps.
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