UNHCR boss calls for mobilization of funds to support education in refugee settlement areas

HOIMA – The country representative for United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), Joel Boutroue, has called for the need to mobilize more funds to support the education of refugees and host communities.

He made the call as the Ministry of Education, United Nations High Commission for Refugees and Kikuube district local government launched a district education response plan for refugees and host communities.

The response plans will work as a guiding tool in promoting education among the refugees and host communities in Kyangwali refugee settlement area with 14,116 refugees.

The response plans will focus on addressing issues affecting the education sector resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic, skilling school dropouts, and advocating for girls who got pregnant during the lockdown to go back to school.

Special consideration will also be made for construction of class rooms and technical schools, staff quarters, sanitary facilities, empowering teachers, school administration and school management committees.

The initiative will benefit 30,000 learners from eight government schools and 13 private schools.

In his address, Boutroue from UNHCR said, there is a need to mobilize funding from development partners such as World Banks (WB) and European Union (EU) to support education in refugees’ host districts in the country.

According to Boutroue, UNHCR is supporting more than 400,000 primary refugee school going children and over 4000 teachers in refugee host districts. He added that they have been supporting education with $20million every year.

Boutroue further noted that, as the world copes with the new normal, funding is inadequate to deal with the challenges affecting the education sector in refugee settlement areas.

He also noted that as the country plans to open schools next year; there are many challenges that will need to be addressed before children report back.

“Our emergency as the president said, is to open schools in January. We therefore have to plan well to ensure that by January, we have the required infrastructure or necessary organizations to put in place double shifts because already schools were crowded before the Covid19 pandemic. Now, we have two cohorts or more lining up to join school. We need to be practical about setting up temporary structures, and double shifts which mean having more teachers at a time of limited resources,” said Boutroue.

While launching the response plans in Hoima City, the State Minister for Primary Education, Joyce Kaducu commended UNHCR and other partners for supporting education.

The Minister also said, the government is planning to integrate digital education in pre-primary and primary schools to take forward the education sector.

She noted that to adapt new technology, there is need for different stakeholders to start critical planning because Covid-19 has brought on board critical thinking and effective implementation of strategies.

“Social media is something that the Education Ministry is working on. We need digital education, we need a digital rollout to the entire country but that alone needs to be regulated, to help the girls and boys to use it meaningfully because there is a lot that can destroy the lives of these children equally from the same social media,” she said.

Minister Kaducu further noted that there is a need for stakeholders to prepare for the opening of schools next year. Issues such as inadequate staffing, school structures and SOPS materials must be addressed before schools open.

The Minister also called on different stakeholders including religious, cultural and political leaders to advocate for the education of the girl child. She added that there is a need to mobilize parents to take the girl children who got pregnant during the lockdown back to school.

According to the Minister, the Covid-19 Pandemic has exposed parents’ and communities’ weakness in looking after their children.


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Ministry of Agriculture needs Shs 20bn for foot & mouth vaccines

KAMPALA – The Ministry of Agriculture needs a 20bn supplementary budget to buy foot and mouth vaccines for animals in the cattle corridor.

The money, half of which will also be used to procure motor bikes for the Veterinary Officers in the same area.

The cattle corridor districts include; Isingiro, Kazo, Sembabule, Gomba, Nakasongora, Lyantonde, Mubende, Luwero, Nakaseke and some districts in Teso and Lango regions and Karamoja region.

The Minister for Agriculture, Frank Tumwebaze told the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture, that out of the funds required, Shs.15bn would be used to buy at least 4 million doses of the vaccines that is expected to cover up to about 15 million heads of cattle.

“We shall need to procure a minimum of four million doses of the foot and mouth vaccines to cover the animals in the cattle corridor,” Tumwebaze said.

The cattle corridor districts of Sembabule, Lyantonde, Kazo and parts of Gomba have been locked in the cattle quarantine for a period of at least one year due to the infectious disease that affects animals.

Tumwebaze says, vaccination would be free to all farmers, and at some point it would be made mandatory.

“This disease causes severe production losses, and while the majority of affected animals recover, they become weak and unproductive. That is why we need to vaccinate at the onset of the disease,” he added.

Scientists have reported that areas neighboring game reserves and parks are prone to attacks, as animals share grazing fields with the wild animals.

Lyantonde, Kiruhura, Isingiro and Kazo all share boarders with Mburo National Game Park, while Nakasongora and Nakaseke have a similar challenge.

According to the Minster, part of the funds will be used to procure at least 30 motor bikes for each of the cattle corridor districts, to facilitate veterinary officers to attend to the animals.

“We shall use Shs 500 million for procurement of 30 motorcycles for each of the thirty districts in the cattle corridors,” Tumwebaze told the Committee.

Another Shs 900 million would be used for procurement of veterinary medical supplies, for the veterinarians to use.

Other beneficiaries of the supplementary allocation would be districts along the livestock trading routes, that are also prone to attacks.

These include districts like; Masaka, Kalungu, Lwengo, Mpigi, Mbale, Kumi, Katakwi, Lira among others.

The Ministry plans to start the vaccination exercise before the disease spreads during the wet season, and aims at covering at least 90% of the nation livestock population.

Foot and mouth disease spreads much in the wet seasons, when livestock movement is unlimited especially close to the wild game.

According to the National Animal Census conducted in 2020, Uganda reportedly has at least 58 million heads of cattle, with a high concentration in the cattle corridor.

The disease is reportedly widely spread by the migrant cattle keeping communities that roam the cattle corridor, although livestock traders are also to blame for the same.

The exercise will also include 16 million goats, 5 million sheep, pigs and other animals.


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