KOBOKO: Local leaders of Koboko Municipality have hailed the plan to expand social services under the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF).

The municipality currently hosts over 23,100 urban refugees from South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) who share the same services with citizens.

Mr Joel Azabo, the health inspector of Koboko municipal council said boosting capacity of health sector through construction of Lasanga health centre III and a mental unit at Koboko general hospital will help in decongesting the hospital which is the only public health facility within the municipality providing services to both the refugees and the host communities.

His comments were re-echoed by Mr Francis Bobole, the division chairman for Koboko West division who lamented that his division has had no public health facility since inception of Koboko municipality.

The leaders were speaking during a recent stakeholders meeting to disseminate research findings under the CRRF for effective implementation of Inclusive Urban Development and Mobility Action in Koboko municipality with technical assistance from Italian non governmental organization ACAV.

Funded by the European Union (EU), the five months research undertaken by consultants from Research and Development Management (U) Ltd, centre for Policy Research and Capacity Enhancement and Jecon Group found out key gaps in social service delivery in the municipality.

Key among them was the shortage of public health centres in the municipality leading to congestion in the few facilities in the municipality.

It also found out serious staff shortages in the existing health units and a lack of a psychiatric ward at the general hospital to help mentally sick patients.

Based on the findings, the research recommended construction of a fully-fledged Lasanga health centre III in Koboko West Division and establishment of a mental health Unit at Koboko general hospital.

Other recommendations to be implemented under the 3.8million Euro fund include infrastructural developments in selected primary and tertiary institutions as well as the establishment of five satellite markets in the three divisions of Koboko municipality to diversify business and economic opportunities for the refugees and host communities.

The meeting was also attended by leaders from Koboko district, representatives from NGOs, UNHCR, and Office of the Prime minister (OPM), World Food Program, Religious leaders, the Judiciary, security and other development partners.

“We are grateful that the consultants were able to do a great job, for which their findings have been disseminated and validated by the different stakeholders to reflect on the actual needs, the priorities and kind of response strategy needed to address the pertinent concerns of refugees and host communities”, Mr Patrick Bongo, the Programs manager of ACAV said.

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Mr Peter Aringu Morison, the chairman for South Sudan Refugees Association (SURA) in the West Nile Region said the projects will address some of the challenges both the urban refugees and host communities face in the process of accessing basic social services in Koboko Municipality.

Koboko municipal council in Uganda and Addis Ababa in Ethiopia are the only urban set-ups implementing Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework; Inclusive Urban Development and Mobility Action project in Africa.