The World Bank has approved $256.54 million aid to Uganda to improve the lives of refugees and host communities battling the economic impact of Covid-19.
The financing is part of the recently-approved 19th replenishment of the International Development Association, the World Bank’s fund for the poorest that will run from July 2020 to June 2023.
Grants account for $153.92 million of the aid, targets bolstering access to basic services, creating jobs and boosting the economic self-reliance of refugees and communities hosting them.
Refugees include those from South Sudan, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo and Eritrea, according to the government.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on livelihoods on the poor and most vulnerable. With this new allocation, the Government of Uganda will be able to provide vital assistance to refugees and host communities to recover quickly and to strengthen their resilience to these and other shocks,” said Tony Thompson, World Bank Country Manager.
Uganda is home of about 1.4 million refugees and asylum seekers, making it Africa’s largest refugee-hosting country and the third-biggest in the world.
The aid follows the lender’s earlier assistance worth $500 million, mainly in grants, to Uganda government.
Joel Boutroue, the U.N. high commissioner for refugees’ representative to Uganda said that because of the protracted refugee situation, donors are fatigued and are failing to sustain support extended to refugees.
As a result, he said, the World Food Program has cut rations by 30 percent and cash handouts by the same percentage.-The VOA reported.
“Come September, what happens? Well, for education, around $10 million” is at stake, he said.
“We may have to totally discontinue financing the over 4,000 teachers that we pay. We will not have any more funds to continue supporting the over 100 health centers that we support throughout the refugee hosting districts. We will not have any more funds to continue livelihood activities or distribute soap and other nonfood items to the refugees.”
More funding needed
Uganda recently admitted another 4,000 people fleeing clashes in the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo. Quoting a top Ugandan official, VOA reports that more funding is needed to support the new refugees, 44 of whom have tested positive for COVID-19.