Women’s livelihood strategies in urban internally displaced persons settlement : A case of Acholi Quarters, Kampala
Abalo, Innocent Catherine
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War pushes humanity to jeopardy; forcing millions out of their homelands every year, into internal displacement settings and sometimes refugee settings. Uganda like other countries has had her share of war and displacement as evidenced by her history of a two-decade war between the Lord’s Resistance Army rebel movement and Government forces. The conflict, which mostly affected the Acholi tribe of Northern Uganda, contributed to the rise of internally displaced persons settlements throughout the country, to accommodate the fleeing citizens. Many of these displaced people found themselves resettled in Kampala, the capital city, in a suburb later renamed Acholi quarters, to reflect the presence of the new IDPs. While war affects people equally, regardless of their status, this study paid attention to the livelihood situation of internally displaced Acholi women, living in Acholi quarters in Kireka, a Kampala suburb. This study’s main objective was to find out the strategies that displaced women put in place to earn a living for themselves and their families, and the challenges they faced in their pursuit of a better life. The findings revealed, that despite the presence of several non-governmental and government agencies and departments that deal with humanitarian issues, there has so far been little effort put on addressing the plight of urban displaced women for the sole reason that it is difficult to differentiate them from the urban poor population, and hence obtaining help for them as a specific group of displaced persons, is not easy. The study noted that over the years, the displaced Acholi population living in Kampala slums, have become a forgotten lot, living on the margins of life, destitute, and exposed to a multitude of problems and risks to wellbeing in their efforts to survive. The findings revealed that, despite having the desire to live a better life, the IDP women were constrained in their livelihoods choices and options and confined to odd jobs due to their low levels of education. Many resorted to risky behavioral practices and in some cases recruited their own children into such risky behavior as prostitution, stone quarrying, late night hawking which put their welfare at great risk. Apart from being in low-paying, these jobs were also detrimental to their health, resulting in loss of life for some of the women and their children, or causing injuries and permanent disabilities. The study recommends that the government through the Office of the Prime minister (OPM) in charge of displaced persons puts in place an effective repatriation program to cater for the greater percentage of displaced women that are willing to be resettled back to their districts of origin. The study also recommends mobilization of funds from various sources including OPM, donors, and humanitarian agencies, to help such women earn a living, through skills training, capital support or linking to financial institutions to help them support themselves whether in the urban IDP settlements or back in their villages of origin. Thirdly, there is need for improvement in social amenities and services in the IDP settlements to enhance the quality of life of those who are unable to return to their home villages. Basics needs like proper housing, drainage systems, water facilities, schools/functional adult literacy, financial services, and health centers are key to enhancing social welfare and important in supporting a decent human life yet are lacking in these urban IDP settlements.