Water crisis hits Uganda refugee camps

Tuesday February 19 2019

Kiryandongo refugee settlement

Refugees at the Kiryandongo settlement line up their jerricans at a borehole in the camp. Many settlements in northwestern Uganda are facing water shortage due to ongoing drought. PHOTO | BILL OKETCH | NMG 

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Refugees in settlements in northwestern Uganda are struggling to access clean water as drought takes toll in the region.

Long queues have been witnessed in various camps as women, the elderly and children seek the life-giving commodity.

A refugee welfare officer at Ofua Six settlement in Imvepi, Arua district, Mr Isaac Ayume, says the situation is terrible. He said women and children are forced to queue for water for many hours with many schoolchildren having to skip classes.

Mary Candiru, 62, a grandmother of six children, says it’s a huge struggle for her. She says she has to wakeup early with the grandchildren to go and fetch water before the children go to school, some two kilometres away.

At the Bidibidi refugee settlement in Yumbe district the situation is not different.

Ms Joyce Jokudu, a 20-year-old mother of two, says the problem started in November when the dry season set in.


At the Palorinya camp in Moyo district residents went up in arms against Uganda Red Cross officials who are said to have been dismantling a water treatment plant following the end of their contract.

The Obongi County Member of Parliament, Mr Hassan Kaps Fungaroo termed the Red Cross move to dismantle the treatment point as unfortunate and in bad faith.

Officials from both the UN refugees agency, UNHCR, and Uganda Red Cross are yet to disclose how they will address the water crisis in the resettlement camps.

Uganda hosts about 1.4 million refugees, more than a million of them from South Sudan. Others are from neighbouring Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).