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Building durable solutions for refugees and host communities through inclusive value chain development in Uganda

A comprehensive agricultural livelihoods approach in Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement

Refugee Integration in Uganda - FAO Project

Uganda hosts over 1.5 million refugees, primarily displaced due to violence and civil unrest in neighbouring South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Around 95 percent live in settlements across eleven refugee-hosting districts, with 80 percent living below the international poverty line, and 54 percent experiencing food insecurity. Despite Uganda's progressive refugee policy, refugees struggle to integrate into local economies and become self-reliant. The protracted displacement situation of most refugees and limited prospects of return to their countries of origin mean that local integration is the most realistic durable solution for refugees in Uganda.

In Uganda, FAO conducted value chain and market systems analyses in order to develop the skills of 1 000 refugees and 1 365 members of Ugandan host communities in Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement to participate in productive agriculture. Using FAO’s Farmer Field School approach in partnership with a local Ugandan non-governmental organization, mixed groups of Ugandans and refugees learned how to grow passion fruit, a valuable cash crop, using locally adapted, climate-smart techniques. Participants were also trained to grow horticultural crops, including tomatoes and eggplants to improve household nutrition, and were encouraged to form Village Savings and Loan Associations and producer cooperatives to negotiate prices collectively on the market.

This good practice fact sheet provides an overview of a four-year inclusive value chain development project implemented by FAO from 2020 to 2024, with funds from the IKEA foundation, in refugee-hosting regions of Kenya and Uganda.


  • On durable solutions: The protracted displacement situation of most refugees and limited prospects of return to their countries of origin mean that local integration – into existing markets and communities - is the most realistic durable solution for refugees in Uganda. FAO has promoted a comprehensive agricultural livelihoods approach, that in contrast to traditional funding approaches in refugee contexts which focus on short-term outcomes, provided a framework that enabled FAO to invest in the longer-term process of developing an inclusive agricultural value chain that benefits both refugees and the hosting communities. FAO’s approach was to assess the market and agroecological opportunities and implement an inclusive agricultural value chain that considered climate change impacts alongside the existing power dynamics and the needs and capacities of refugees, hosts, women and youth.
  • On the HDP nexus: This practice is a successful combination of humanitarian and development approaches that holistically address food insecurity and malnutrition, climate change impacts, natural resource scarcity, while building the socioeconomic inclusion and empowerment of both refugees and host communities. The intervention has increased crop diversification and the production of high-value crops to improve dietary diversity at the household and community level with a focus on women’s economic empowerment and climate-smart techniques. It has served as an opportunity for participants to ‘earn as they learned’ through the Farmer Field School method– an approach that is especially effective for youth. This approach is a promising practice of operationalization of the humanitarian—development—peace (HDP) nexus, for replication in other forced displacement contexts (see key takeaway on conflict sensitivity for more info).
  • On conflict sensitivity: Including the Conflict Sensitivity Programme Clinic at an early phase of the project can lead to several important project adaptations, particularly related to gender dynamics and youth. Future projects should incorporate a Programme Clinic to inform design and include women and youth more intentionally at the participatory project design phase.
  • On social cohesion: Mixed host/refugees Farmer Field Schools enable both groups to learn and work together, sharing knowledge and skills, and discussing the experience in applying the techniques learned. This creates a sense of group unity, as both communities work together for a common goal. Additionally, by improving farmers’ productive capacity, refugees and hosts interact more frequently in the markets, which is proven to reduce tensions and promote peaceful coexistence. Ensuring the economic sustainability of these activities, for example by establishing linkages with the private sector and producing high-value crops, enables them to continue without humanitarian funding and facilitates the economic integration of refugees over the long term.
  • On gender: Training women not only in agricultural techniques, but also in business and marketing can improve their productive skills and access to information, resources, and decision-making, potentially leading to a change in gender roles and a reduction in women’s work burden. Including women in agricultural activities such as marketing and selling products, can also foster greater understanding and appreciation of women’s abilities among men. Lastly, activities around the male role model can promote changes in men’s attitudes towards traditional gender roles, the need to address gender-based violence, and sharing domestic responsibilities.
  • On youth: Organizing a specific Farmer Field Schools (FFS) for youth can foster the engagement of previously unemployed young people who were also lacking the opportunity to acquire new productive skills. Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs), organized around FFS, support the improvement of young people’s financial management and planning skills. Moreover, such initiatives can foster a sense of unity, pride, and purpose in youth groups.
  • On access to land: The development of legal tools, including land tenure protection agreements, enables refugees to continue negotiating secure access to land and expand production in the future. Refugees’ access to land can also be expanded by the creation of mixed host/refugees FFS groups, which enables them to farm collectively with the host community on their land.
  • On water stress: In a refugee-hosting setting, building an inclusive value chain means that refugees, who often lack the access to water resources, social networks and economic resources (credit) to initiate commercial production – in particular women and youth – are given the tools to participate productively in the food system. FFS groups were trained on how to effectively water crops in a low-water setting, promoting climate-smart agriculture. Water scarcity due to lack of rainfall was a key limiting factor of expanding production at scale. During the project period, FAO in Uganda secured funds from the Government of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to construct some water infrastructure and water management structures, but there is a need to further expand and rehabilitate water points for production, as well as water harvesting and water collection infrastructure, to support the sustainability of the agricultural livelihoods of refugees. There is an opportunity to rehabilitate water points and other water infrastructure, through joint cash-for-work activities to bring a sense of cooperation between communities, ownership over the infrastructure, and ensure access to safe water.
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