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Aid Focus Shifts To Recovery In Northern Uganda

Uganda: Aid focus shifts to recovery

The return of relative calm to northern Uganda after two decades of devastating civil war has set in motion the return of about one million displaced civilians and highlighted the importance of funding post-conflict recovery, a key focus of the country's US$374 million Consolidated Appeal Process (CAP) for 2008.

"We have made a conscious shift away from traditional humanitarian programming to recovery in the awareness that 97 percent of formerly displaced people in Lango sub-region have begun the return process," Kristen Knutson, public information officer with the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Uganda told IRIN.

"With the goal of ensuring a seamless transition to recovery, neither humanitarian donors nor response organisations can afford to cease their support until the IDPs have completed the return process," the appeal document added. To this end, $33.5 million of the appeal is geared towards governance, infrastructure and livelihoods.

Ugandan Disaster and Relief Minister Tarsis Kabwegyere said during the CAP launch that a change of emphasis by the humanitarian community was now crucial. "At one time I had to intervene and stopped projects of boreholes at the camps, because that is not where we want them now. We need them where the people are going. Let us build the infrastructure ahead of the people, these will attract them back home," he said.

The CAP was drafted in line with the Ugandan government's $600 million Peace, Recovery and Development Plan, launched in October 2007.

Much of the infrastructure in the villages abandoned during the war with the Lord's Resistance Army lies in ruins. Schools require repairs, water points and sanitation facilities are non-existent, and health centres are not in place.

"Restarting communities requires reconstruction of infrastructure. Key roads must be rehabilitated, in particular those allowing populations to return and those which will allow access to markets and restart of commercial activities," Theophaine Nikyema, the UN humanitarian coordinator in Uganda, told IRIN.

According to OCHA, more than half the 1.8 million northern Ugandans displaced in early 2005 had started the return process by September 2007. Among them are half a million people who have completed the return and 400,000 who have started to move out of the camps.

Other areas of focus include establishing effective civilian administration with a strong security sector, policing, and landmine removal. "We need infrastructure for local administration. Return areas should be mapped, marked and cleared of land mines and explosive remnants of war," Nikyema told IRIN.

The LRA and the government initiated peace talks in mid-2006.


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