Building Resilience of Refugee Host Communities

Nov 13, 2017

UNDP Ethiopia is one of the partners to be recognized for its work in promoting livelihoods of refugee hosting communities. The award ceremony took place during the National Week of Livestock and Fisheries organized from 15 to 19 November 2017 in Addis Ababa.

Ethiopia currently hosts almost a million refugees drawn from 19 countries. The majority come from neighbouring Eritrea, Somalia and South Sudan.

Around 47% of the refugees, mostly from South Sudan, make their way to Ethiopia’s Gambela region, which is lightly populated and thus the large influx places a huge burden on the host community in terms of access to scares natural resources. Over 80% of the refugees coming into Ethiopia are hosted in areas that are already drought prone and highly vulnerable to climatic shocks. Gambela has also faced the loss of its forest coverage due to the increased demand for firewood, building houses and other needs of the large refugee population as well as host communities. Food insecurity is also a major concern for some host communities and the refugee population’s access to higher rations can be a cause of hostility between the two groups.

With 1.4 million USD from the Government of Japan, UNDP works with the National Disaster Risk Management Commission to pilot intervention (2016-2017) that focuses on building the resilience of host communities in four woredas of Gambela region that receive the largest influx.

By the end of the year, over 24,000 households had benefited from an income generating scheme that involved the setup of cooperatives around livestock, poultry, fishery as well as the establishment of grain mills. The community members used their new income to cover their basic household nutrition needs, pay off medical bills, and pay for their children’s schooling. 

Ensuring the peaceful co-existence of host and refugee communities is another priority area addressed by the UNDP intervention. The programme focused on strengthening conflict prevention and peace structures in the region through organizing dialogue sessions and trainings for public sector officials, the police, religious leaders, elders as well as youth. Student peace clubs have also been set up to ensure that the young generation grow up with the necessary peace building and conflict resolution skills. Most of the refugees coming into the region fall within the 5-39 age group and include mainly women and children, who account for approximately 56.5% of the total refugee group. Read more

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