Feb 18, 2021

URIP turns 2, RLOs lead COVID-19 rapid response, and a new advocacy training for RLOs in Nairobi!

UR Uganda Team at our RLO+NGO Networking Event
UR Uganda Team at our RLO+NGO Networking Event

On behalf of the Urban Refugees team, we are thrilled to share that our programs in East Africa are growing. In this brief, we have exciting updates that cover: 1. Urban Refugees Incubation Program (URIP) Updates, 2. Our new advocacy training in Nairobi, and 3. Update on refugee-led efforts as part of our COVID-19 rapid response plan. 

Urban Refugees Incubation Program (URIP): Year 2

Following a successful launch in August 2020, UR conducted the audit phase with the latest Refugee-Led Organizations (RLOs) additions to to URIP, the Refugee-Led Organizations Network (RELON) and the Somali Community Association of Uganda (SCAU). After completing the  needs assessment audit which involved a series of participatory workshops with key organization leaders, focus group discussions with RLO beneficiaries, and interviews with RLO partners, both RLOs emerged with tailored training priorities to serve their organizational and community needs.

Training priorities for both RLOs were identified and cover: Project Management, Fundraising and Resource Mobilization, Advocacy, Partnerships, Income Generation Activities, and Governance. 

With training needs identified, both RELON and SCAU welcomed the New Year with the start of their Project Management training modules.

New RLO Advocacy Training Program Launches in Nairobi, Kenya

We are excited to announce that our latest training program, aimed at equipping regional refugee leadership with advocacy training, launches this February! Our vision for this program is to train RLOs so they feel confident and equipped with the tools to voice their own concerns and needs at the national, regional, and international level. Leading and designing this training program is our very own advocacy lead, Julia Zahreddine.

Key training topics include: Analyzing the context and defining specific advocacy goals, identifying targets and alliances, identifying key moments and opportunities, understanding tactics and articulating modes of action, and monitoring and evaluating an advocacy strategy.

Upwards of 50 Refugee leaders from three impactful refugee-led coalitions in the region were selected. In addition to RELON, joining the training will be refugee leaders from Global Refugee Led Network (GRN) and the East African Refugee Led Organizations Network (EARLO). Together, these coalitions represent 50 RLOs, and serve over 10,500 refugee beneficiaries.

This programming was made possible through the collaborative efforts of our partners at Amnesty International, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM), Mercy Corps, Young African Refugees for Integral Development (YARID), and the International Rescue Committee (IRC).

COVID-19 Crisis Response Team Grows and RLOs Shine

Our partnered RLOs, the Sudanese Women For Peace and Development Association (SWPDA), The United South Sudanese Urban Refugees Community (USSURC), SCAU, and RELON have been hard at work to deliver necessary relief packages, referrals, and services to their communities. 

In addition, the Refugee Entrepreneurship Association Limited (REAL) has joined the COVID-19 response plan as our 5th RLO partner. Founded in 2017, REAL strives to promote refugee skills and economic empowerment for most vulnerable slum communities, supporting over 600 beneficiaries including members of the host community.

During this period, RLOs referred 599 cases to humanitarian organizations for essential services such as food distribution, medical assistance, and legal counsel.  RLOs also provided over 3,442 community beneficiaries with access to translated COVID-19 preventive measures via RLO-made posters, SMS text blasts, and social media (WhatsApp and Facebook). Highlights include:

  • USSURC’s (URIP Year 1 Alum) successful distribution of food to 500 beneficiaries, including host community members, to support vulnerable households prioritize their income on other critical needs such as rent,
  • REAL’s support of 25 women-owned businesses affected by the COVID-19 crisis with business grants, and
  • SWPDA’s (URIP Year 1 Alum) support to 200 beneficiaries with food including the host community.

Looking ahead, each RLO is poised to launch their Income Generating Activities (IGAs) to improve the financial sustainability of their organization. IGAs being launched include: From SWPDA, a community retail shop, USSURC plans to open a hair and beauty salon, RELON will launch a restaurant business, REAL members will start a clothing line business, and SCAU will pursue garment and handcraft production. 

Now more than ever, RLOs are demonstrating their substantial impact on their communities, and at UR we are working with refugee leaders to amplify that impact. None of this work could have been done without your support. By continuing to support UR, you help us expand and refine our RLO partnering efforts in new contexts. On a larger scale, you ensure the advancement of a global movement to empower refugees through their access to replicable skill-development models.


The Urban Refugees Team

REAL members showcase IGA efforts
REAL members showcase IGA efforts
USSURC staff generating income from IGA products
USSURC staff generating income from IGA products
REAL member displays handmade bags
REAL member displays handmade bags
Oct 20, 2020

A shift of gears in Uganda: more achievements and a new COVID-19 rapid response program!

Summer 2020 has challenged URBAN REFUGEES, especially our Incubation Program in Uganda! It has been a tough and intense few months during which our team has spared no effort to provide support to urban Refugee-Led Organisations. I am so proud to share with you that we were able to innovate and strive to 1. get our activities going and continue to reach our beneficiaries and; 2. receive new funding from the US Government for COVID-19 rapid response in Kampala!

1. Incubation Program: end of year 1

In July 2020, training sessions have resumed in respect of preventive measures (social distancing, regular hand sanitization, masks) and refugee groups incubated in our program (the Sudanese Women for Peace and Development (SWPDA) who supports approximately 250 families and United South Sudanese Urban Refugees Community (USSURC) who organizes vocational skills training and provides assistance to over 800 South Sudanese refugees) have successfully completed the following modules:

  • Project Management
  • Communications: enhanced digital strategy (improved outreach and publicity); creation of a Facebook group; increased social media engagement.
  • Income Generations: concept and methodology

New collaborations have also been engaged with international NGOs for them to trust SWPDA and USSURC in providing materials, equipment and services to their communities with the help of URBAN REFUGEES. In this regard, USSURC was able to support women’s livelihood skills on liquid soap making and engage with youth through bookmaking. USSURC also set up a helpline with a Juba Arabic Counsellor to provide support to South Sudanese refugees affected by mental disorders (depression) and has integrated an advocacy network of local NGOs and INGOs known as Charter for Change (C4C) whose mandate is to advocate for localisation of interventions by all humanitarian actors and better recognition of the role played by local organizations in response to beneficiary needs. SWPDA has referred more than 100 women for food assistance to different partners in Uganda, enabling those women to feed their families. 

Finally, two new Refugee-Led Organizations (RLOs) are joining our Incubation Program for year 2: the Somali Community Association in Uganda (SCAU) who supports more than 18,000 Somali households and the Refugee Led Organisations Network (RELON) who is composed of 28 RLOs in Kampala and 6 RLOs in the settlements. RELON indirectly supports approximately 30,000 refugees and 4000 host community beneficiaries. We are thrilled to get them on board and can't wait to start the training sessions with them, welcome! 

2. New COVID-19 rapid response program

On July 6, the US State Department’s Bureau of People, Refugees and Migration (BPRM) donated $90,000 USD to Urban Refugees (UR). These funds will impact Refugee-led Organizations (RLOs) benefiting from UR incubation programs – meant to provide them with training on their key organizational issue and temporary funding – so they can, in this particular case, provide a solid response to COVID-19 for the benefit of refugee communities. Thanks to this new initiative, we have been able to refer 70 women refugees for Gender-Based Violence counselling and psychosocial support services; 630 women for receiving funding to support their businesses; 47 people for food assistance, 43 women for receiving cooking baskets; 70 people for receiving direct cash; 200 people for joining an apprenticeship program and 50 business groups for receiving business grants. 

The COVID-19 rapid response program aims also at increasing information sharing about the virus so that refugee communities are well informed and can take the necessary protection measures. In that end, the RLOs of the program have been posting COVID-19 preventive information to their community via social media (WhatsApp and Facebook). Most RLOs have designed communication plans to enhance their communication strategy and increase their community outreach.

We could not have done that without you and your sustained support. YOU are the people supporting refugees in Uganda and in the world by empowering them to be actors of change for their communities. Thank you so much. I look forward to sharing more updates with you as we enter Year 2 of our Incubation Programs coupled with our COVID-19 rapid response that is to last until the end of 2020.

All the best and stay safe!

Jun 23, 2020

Striving through Covid-19

First post Covid-19 reunion with beneficiaries
First post Covid-19 reunion with beneficiaries

The past three months (March - June) have been challenging for our Urban Refugees Incubation Program (URIP) in Uganda as the Covid-19 sanitary crisis put everything on pause. We've had to take on health safety measures for our staff but also for the sake of the beneficiaries of our action: members of the two refugee-led organizations we work with: the Sudanese Women for Peace and Development Association (SWPDA) and the United South Sudanese Urban Refugees Community (USSURC). During the month of March, the Ugandan authorities have increased restriction of movement crescendo, as a reaction we have had to suspend our program activities. 

Our head of mission, Jessica, stayed in Kampala and has worked intensively on mitigating the risks. In this respect, support to refugee-led groups has continued in other forms:

  • Implementation of a system of weekly assignments to reinforce the knowledge acquired from previous training modules and maintain regular contact;
  • Support in writing several proposals to donors for involving refugee-led groups in responding to the crisis.

While we start to resume work slowly (training is planned to start again fully early July and one session was held a few days ago with respect to social barrier gestures), we have learned a lot during this extraordinary global crisis:

  1. Refugee-led groups are the best place to respond to a crisis: our rationale has been confirmed as we have seen an unprecedented mobilization of the groups we work with to provide care and guidance to their communities;
  2. Capacity-building works: training provided has helped our beneficiaries greatly as they have been in a capacity to respond to the crisis in a structured manner (efficient use of money, team organization, etc.);
  3. Foreign and national aid for crisis response should go to the communities: refugees in urban Kampala have been hardly hit by the crisis. Whereas they have been able to get organized to respond to the crisis somehow, refugee-led groups lack means to strongly support their peers. URBAN REFUGEES is currently seeking more funding to support groups in Kampala to help them provide better care and services to their communities and to be a real partner of humanitarian action.

We look forward to sharing future updates as our respective projects continue to unfold and as an organization, we head towards partnering more and more with humanitarian actors to amplify impact. Until then, as always, our continued gratitude for your support of our work.

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