A study on socio-economic and institutional factors affecting income generating activities among refugees in Uganda: a case of Nakivale Settlement
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Since 1940's Uganda has been hosting refugees with the first group being the Polish Ex-service men. This therefore indicates a long experience in hosting refugees. However, refugees have not lived a dignified life despite interventions from UN agencies such as UNHCR and other implementing partners. Refugees are encouraged to participate in Income Generating Activities (IGAs) as source of livelihood as one of the strategies to contribute to their wellbeing. This study sought to find out IGAs that refugees are engaged in with a view to assess the factors affecting these activities in a refugee setting. The data was collected from Nakivale refugee settlement one of the oldest settlements in Uganda using quantitative and qualitative methods. The findings reveal that refugees were engaged in various activities such as cultivation, petty trading, livestock keeping, tailoring, and offering casual labour. The issues that formed a focus of the study were categorised into social, economic and institutional factors. These are the factors that affect the self reliance strategy of refugees through IGAs. The economic factor that came up prominently was lack of sufficient capital which constrained refugees from engaging in any activity or force them into activities not of their choice. The socio-economic factors reported were language barrier, inaccessibility of the settlement to business centres, lack developmental and entrepreneur skills, and limited resources such as water and land. This has resulted into unprecedented overuse of natural resources for shelter, cultivation and animal grazing. It has also fuelled social conflicts which stem from sharing of the scarce resources especially water for animals and domestic use. The institutional factors which limit the participation of refugees in IGAs are animal movement restrictions and the bureaucratic procedures to get a movement permit. Based on these findings, it is therefore highly recommended that refugees be provided with financial and technical support to enable them engage in IGAs. Furthermore, the host communities and refugees should be sensitised on how to co-existence so as to use scarce resources in a harmonious manner. The sharing of scarce natural resources need to be planned and implemented through a social communication campaign. The host communities should be taught to respect the refugees as human beings that need to be treated with the same dignity. The restrictive administrative measures and bureaucratic procedures should also be made simple so as to enable refugees in business carry on with ease.