YUMBE. It took some time for the residents in Yumbe district to realise the importance of hosting refugees but little did they know that it can contribute to the development of an area.

When Yumbe district local government accepted to host refugees in 2016, there were a number of issues that emerged during the emergency period ranging from infighting, recruitment, land offered among others.

But when one goes to Yumbe now, from the town up to the five zones in Bidibidi refugee settlement, one can conclude that the Office of PrimeMinister (OPM), United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and the implementing partners have done wonders in infrastructural development.

A number of projects have been initiated under this program of hosting refugees in Yumbe district both in the settlement and the host communities.

One of the projects is Development Response for Displacement Impact Project (DRDIP) in which close to 20 projects have been initiated under the program in the district.

Some of the projects have been completed while others are still in progress.

Mr Yassin Taban, the district chairman could not hide his excitement during the commissioning of 4 subprojects of Ushs 1.5billion under DRDIP in the district on Thursday at Lodonga demonstration primary school.

In the four sub-projects, 8 blocks of 3 classrooms each, 12 blocks of 5stances drainable latrines were constructed at Awoba, Yumbe, Hilaltopio and Lodonga demonstration primary schools including the supply of furniture, installation of lightning arresters and 10,000-litre capacity stainless steel rainwater harvesting tanks in each of the blocks.

These are the kind of projects which had alluded the district because it could not undertake them despite being in their plans due to meager local government funding.

"Our people were doing a lot of things but with the projects like DRDIP and others, people have seen that its a curse and also a blessing to host refugees. We used to have a lot of conflicts between the communities and the Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) over resources", he said.

"With all the different projects being implemented, under the various programs, conflicts are getting down which means the projects are creating an impact in the minds of the people", he added.

Mr Gerald Menya, the commissioner for refugees at the ministry of relief and disaster preparedness said refugees continue to put pressure and competition on resources and facilities in the country.

He said they continue to receive an average of 500 refugees every day and this has led to the total number of the refugees in the country to accumulate to over 1.3 million.

"With the increasing pressure and competition on services like this, I am very excited through the government, we managed to secure some resources that are helping to reduce the pressure in the refugee hosting districts", he said.

He added; "As we hand over the facilities, in 2 to 6 years down the lane, we want to see that the facilities are well maintained and also to be added on so that we don't lose them".

The minister for Relief and Disaster Preparedness Engineer Hillary Onek said the 20 projects being implemented in Yumbe are yet the beginning but more will come.

Hillary Onek 26 08 19Hillary Onek unveils the foundation stone at Lodonga demonstration primary school on Thursday. PHOTO BY ROBERT ELEMA

"These projects you have seen here is from the $50million that we borrowed from the World Bank but because we are kind to the refugees, the world bank has opened hearts to us and now gave us additional $150million to do projects in all the refugee hosting districts so what will come to Yumbe will be 3 times what you have seen now", he said.

He added; "we are also negotiating $500million for tarmacking Laropi-Yumbe-Koboko road and Yumbe-Arua via Terego. All the major roads will be smooth and the trucks will not spoil them".

He said with all the developments, Yumbe will be one of the leading districts in development.

"If you move in this direction, Yumbe will be among the top districts from the bottom. Before refugees came, Yumbe was at the bottom now you are going to rise up with all these projects", he said.