In Uganda, refugees in Kyaka and Kyangwali settlements and their nearby host communities are currently benefitting from a EUR 2.00 million (UGX 8.3 billion) humanitarian water aid package from the European Union (EU).
The two piped water systems was recently completed by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), a United Nations agency.
This substantial EU funding was complemented by project funds from the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF).
CERF is however, one of the fastest and most effective ways to ensure that urgently needed humanitarian assistance reaches people caught up in crises. Established by the United Nations General Assembly in 2005 as the UN global emergency response fund, CERF enables humanitarian responders to deliver life-saving assistance whenever and wherever crises strike.
As an essential enabler of global humanitarian action, CERF’s Rapid Response window allows country teams to kick-start relief efforts immediately in a coordinated and prioritised response when a new crisis emerges. CERF’s window for Underfunded Emergencies helps scale-up and sustain protracted relief operations to avoid critical gaps when no other funding is available.
The two water systems were part of a one-year project aimed at strengthening the water and sanitation infrastructure for refugees and host communities in Uganda. Following the sudden increase in refugees fleeing into Uganda, there has been a growing strain on water and sanitation resources in Kyaka and Kyangwali refugee settlements. That has led to disease outbreaks, with IOM and its partners racing to meet the needs of the daily arrivals.
In Kyangwali, IOM used the funds to construct a 25-kilometre pipe network, a 100,000-litre reservoir tank and 30 triple-faucet tap-stands. In Kyaka, the new water system, able to pump 42,000 litres per hour, is expected to serve more than 21,000 people – both refugees and Ugandan host population.
The outgoing IOM Uganda Chief of Mission, Ali Abdi, hailed the contribution of the donors. “These water systems have again illustrated the decisive support of the European Union and CERF towards safeguarding and improving lives in refugee settlements in Uganda”, Abdi explained. “In both Kyaka and Kyangwali, the water systems remained on paper until the arrival of this funding from the European Union.”
Speaking about the two systems, the EU’s Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides said: “Thanks to EU support, safe water will be brought to communities at Kyaka and Kyangwali. It will reduce over-reliance on the distribution of water by trucks, which is not a sustainable method. The challenge now is for communities and the aid organisations involved to work together for strong governance structures to ensure that these systems are maintained in an excellent state.”
By ensuring that communities have better access to safe drinking water, preventing deadly water-borne diseases, this European Union and CERF funding has not only constituted a life-saving intervention, but it will also help reduce the risk of gender-based violence against women and girls, who otherwise had to collect water at distant and congested water points.
At the event to launch the water system in Kyangwali settlement, IOM’s Abdi was joined by the UNHCR team leader, Paul Nsiela, and the Settlement Commandant (under the Office of the Prime Minister), Jolly Kebirungi. Also present were representatives of the International Aid Services (IAS). Commandant Kebirungi said that access to safe water has long been a huge challenge for the settlement, and the new water system would go a long way towards alleviating the situation.
These new water systems are linked up to and complement already existing structures installed by other aid organisations in order to avoid duplication and make the best use of available resources.
Meanwhile, the European Union and its member states is the world’s leading donor of humanitarian aid. Relief assistance is an expression of European solidarity with people in need all around the world. It aims to save lives, prevent and alleviate human suffering, and safeguard the integrity and human dignity of populations affected by natural disasters and man-made crises.
Through the European Commission’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian aid Operations department, the European Union helps millions of victims of conflict and disasters every year. With headquarters in Brussels and a global network of field offices, the EU assists the most vulnerable people on the basis of humanitarian needs.