KOBOKO. The government of Uganda is intending to borrow an extra 150 million US dollars (Ushs 556,484,655,991) from the World Bank to support refugee hosting areas in the country. This is in addition to the 50million dollars (shs185,446,738,680) borrowed earlier.
This was disclosed by Eng Hilary Onek, the minister of relief, disaster preparedness and refugees during the launch of classroom blocks construction at Kandio Primary school in Kuluba Sub County, Koboko district.
He said the money would be used for development response for displacement impact project (DRDIP) programs in refugee hosting communities.
"This is one of the best ways through which local people access services directly on the ground without the funds being controlled from the centre," Onek remarked.
Under the system of the project, money is sent to Sub Counties contrary to the traditional ways where the monies for such projects are always controlled from district headquarters and hence slowing the pace of work.
"It is my main stream plan to ensure that hosting refugees in Uganda also becomes a blessing to the hosting communities as collaborations to ensure peace restoration in the warring South Sudan, DRC and Somalia continues to yield fruits," Onek said.
He called upon leaders and local people from Northern Uganda in particular to be in unity in order to maintain the existing peace in Uganda.
But he decried the low absorption rate of the 50 million US dollars where only a third had been utilized compared to the project period.
DRDIP is a government of Uganda project through the office of the Prime Minister (OPM) funded with a loan of 50 million US Dollars from World Bank for components of infrastructural developments and environmental protection in the refugee hosting districts of Uganda.
Ms Grace Freedom Kwiyocwiny, the State Minister for Northern Uganda warned contractors against shoddy works that she said will be as a loss to Ugandan tax payers.
"The money we are using is a loan that we have to pay back. We have had an experience where we start a foundation and grass ends up growing on the foundation and when you ask what has happened, people keep telling stories. If there is quality work done within specified period of time, this will give us morale to start another phase," she stressed.
Kwiyocwiny also cautioned local leaders against diversion of funds meant for a specific project.
The UNHCR assistant representative for protection in Uganda, Ms Margaret Atieno said "we are here to support the government of Uganda to meet the needs of the people of the country who for many years have opened their hands and hearts to host refugees."
Koboko district hosts about 4535 Congolese refugees with over 76,000 self-settled South Sudanese in Kuluba Sub County that borders DRC and South Sudan.
Currently, Uganda is hosting about 40,000 Somali refugees, about 300,000 Congolese refugees and over one million South Sudan refugees, majority of them in West Nile region and Lamwo district.