ARUA. Mr Darlington Asizua, the headteacher of Odobu primary school in Rhino camp refugee settlement in Arua district beams with a broad smile as he speaks to reporters.
“It has previously been a big challenge to supervise teachers who do not reside in the staff quarters, they can give any excuse and you as the head will do nothing because indeed they operate from long distances”, Asizua narrates the past.
His school now boasting of 25 teachers and close to 3000 pupils has had a fairy-tale story of transformation, a village school at its inception in the early 1990s to a thriving institution with permanent structures in its current state.
On 23rd August 2019, new 2-blocks of twin staff houses were commissioned under the development response to displacement impacts project (DRDIP) at the school, this, Asizua says will now bring all his teachers within watch although the majority are still residing in temporary structures.
DRDIP, a government of Uganda program is aimed at improving access to basic social services, expand economic opportunities and enhance environmental management in refugee-hosting districts.
The targeted districts include Arua, Moyo, Yumbe, Koboko, and Adjumani in the West Nile region. The regions are some of the poorest in the country and further competition for resources reduces the quality of life hence the justification for the project.
It was kick-started with a USD 50Million loan which is to be followed by another USD 150 Million grant all by the World Bank to improve the livelihood for the refugee-hosting communities.
The project is run under four component areas of social and economic services and infrastructure, sustainable environmental management, livelihoods and support to local and national coordination activities.
Dr Robert Limlim, the director of DRDIP under the office of the prime minister says the projects are implemented through a community demand-driven approach with the district and OPM only offering technical support.
Dr Limlim praises the community in Odobu for the competence of its management team that enabled the houses to be completed just in six months.
He says there is indeed value for the total sh306million that besides the basic structure was used to install water tanks, lighting arresters, solar system, latrines and bathrooms and planting trees and grass around the house as well as capacity building training.
Despite the human resource and infrastructure developments in schools such as Odobu and Ocea that have benefited from DRDIP, there is still the question of whether this can directly translate into good performance by the pupils.
“I now want to see an improvement in performances because you have a good number of teachers; I heard that the ones who pass in first grade are the refugees, so what’s wrong with our Terego children? Why aren’t they in first grade? Aren’t they in front of the same teachers? Or you parents are burdening them with domestic chores?” Ms Grace Freedom Kwiyocwny, the state minister of Northern Uganda wonders.
Mr Mario Obiga Kania, the internal affairs state minister while commissioning the new staff houses appealed to local leaders to protect the facilities ‘jealously’.
Ms Parum Mahoau, the deputy country representative of the United Nations high commissioner for refugees (UNHCR) praised the host communities for the hospitality accorded to their troubled brothers and sisters.
She hailed the host communities as being at the forefront of Uganda’s open-door policy towards refugees which she said is commendable and an example to the rest of the World.
Out of the 2903 pupils of Odobu primary, 1736 are refugees and only 1467 nationals sharing the same facilities.
The next phase of the DRDIP on livelihoods will target households. Uganda continues to receive an average of 10 refugees every day according to the UNHCR.