Sanitation, A Challenge In Refugee Camps In Uganda

The provision of adequate sanitation services is crucial to prevent communicable diseases and epidemics while ensuring good health and dignity.

Sanitation, A Challenge In Refugee Camps In Uganda
children playing around a newly constructed water point in Palorinya camp in Moyo District [Gurtong photo|Paul Night]

By Paul Night

MOYO, UGANDA, 09 December 2017 [Gurtong]-Though the importance of having adequate latrines is well documented, still refugee camps do not have adequate waste disposal services or latrines

Many refugee camps in Uganda today face a challenge of sanitation due to the continued increase of refugees from South Sudan.

In Palorinya camp in Moyo district most of the homes have either a shared latrine or shelters for bathing which is a significant risk factor for cholera due to an increase in the fecal-oral transmission of the disease.

In the recent months, the European Union humanitarian aid, United Nations support and International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Uganda has been constructing latrines and handing over several sanitation and hygiene facilities in Palorinya refugee settlement, since the influx of refugees in Moyo district.

The facilities which include latrines, bathing shelters, incinerators and pits for both the South Sudanese refugees and host communities were handed over to the office of the Prime Minister, UNHCR and the district local government and will benefit more than 90,000 people including the host population co-existing with the refugees in the settlements.

On the 06 of December during the handing over ceremony  Abdi Ali, the IOM Uganda Chief of Mission said the construction of latrines was financed by the European Commission’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid department (DH ECHO) and the United Nation’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF).

“The reason why the donors are supporting you with these facilities is so that you and your children are healthy enough to work, grow and prosper. Our hope and prayer is that you will make good use and take proper care of these facilities,” Ali said.

Due to the high number of refugees, there have been inadequate latrines and hand washing utensils in the camps. This has been attributed to the recent Cholera outbreak especially in Adjumani camps.

“This is a major investment which should help reduce over reliance on water trucking, an extremely expensive and unsustainable approach. European humanitarian support to IOM totals to Euros 2 million for the period between April 2017 and July 2018 respectively,” he added.

Julius Kibet , Lutheran World Foundation Team Leader, said: “This will go a long way in improving the hygiene and sanitation in this health Centre. This is one of the biggest within the settlement helping a lot of people of the host community and refugees and we appreciate your organization (IOM),” he said.

John Unzimai, a laboratory technician with Medical international team (MTI) attached to Idiwa health Centre said previously the facility had faced a lot of challenges especially on waste management.

“We had a lot of challenges and this facility has now solved our issues and whatever you have done. We are going to take care of it in terms of maintenance whatever is necessary,” he said.
Meanwhile the head teacher of Belle Primary School in Itula Sub-county just some few kilo-meters away from the refugees’ settlements, Mrs Elishoma Jame, said the school had only two latrines. 

“There is improvement especially in the area of hand washing. A child will come out clean because the hands are washed unlike the past and we appreciate the work the agencies have done for the school,” he said.

Mr Godfrey Byaruhanga, the settlement commandant of Palorinya refugees’ settlement in Moyo district urged the IOM not to only concentrate on schools and health Centres but also extend to other institutions like police post and markets.

“There is a need to take priority in ensuring our police post and the market also have the same facilities like latrines and garbage dumping site. The settlement has four police posts and all those need our attention as far as WASH is concerned.”

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