Youth: bridge between the past and future

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Happy faces of youth – Symbol of partnership; European Union and Government of Uganda
The two young women featured in the picture below are refugees from South Sudan to Uganda. As they are branded apparel to symbolize European Union partnership with Government of Uganda; the also symbolise bridging the gap of the past and future. This picture  was taken in Mungula 1 settlement, Adjumani District during the official launch of the European Union Emergency Trust Fund (EUTF) Support Programme for Refugee Settlements and Host Communities in Northern Uganda(SPRS-NU).
Culture has the power to transform entire societies,strengthen local communities and forge a sense of identity and belonging for people of all ages. As vector for youth  development and civic engagement, culture plays an essential role inpromoting sustainable social and economic development for future generations. Youth can act
as a bridge between cultures and serve as key agents in promoting peace and intercultural understanding.
Current situation
Youth comprise 18% of the world’s population.Representing a significant segment of the
community, young people:
  • Can contribute to local development and prosperity.
  • Can be a bridge between cultures and between tradition and modernity.
  • Have the interest, energy and passion to address issues and concerns, such as heritage management, sustainable tourism, local development and community involvement.
  • Have affinity for information and communication technologies to network and transcend geographical boundaries.
  • Are in the position to act as potent agents of positive social change that will yield greater economic and social well-being in the perspective of sustainable development for generations to come.
Investing in local cultural resources including tangible and intangible heritage including traditional knowledge and skills, as well as music, dance, theatre and festivals, can develop sustainable creative economies, open up opportunities to youth, and help strengthen identity and social cohesion. Promoting creativity for and among youth and harnessing young people’s creative potential and energy therefore needs to be a priority in finding creative solutions to today’s challenges.
Whilst implementing its programmes, the European Union Emergency Trust Fund (EUTF) Support Programme for Refugee Settlements and Host Communities in Northern Uganda(SPRS-NU) targets youth, women and girls highly due to the fact that they bridge the gap between the past and the future.

17-year-old mother of two dreams to become an accountant

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Keji attending classroom under the Accelerated Learning Programme (ALP) ar Ariwa Primary School, Rhino refugee settlement, Arua District, Northern Uganda

“My name is Esther Keji Nelson. I am a 17-year old mother of two children. I came from South Sudan in 2016. After losing my parents in the war, I dropped out-of-school and got married at the age of 14”.

Esther walks to Ariwa Primary School, 7 kilometers from her home in Rhino refugee settlement in the Northern Uganda district of Arua. She leaves her 3-year-old and 9-months-old children under the care of an elderly friend in pursuit for a bright future. “I decided to enroll back in school because the man I got married to cannot take care of me. Therefore, I must find means of earning to take care of my children.”

Esther is one of the 56 girls out of the total of 74 pupils enrolled this year in level 3 of the Accelerated Learning Programme (ALP) implemented by Save the Children. Save the Children aims to enable out-of-school children back to the education ladder through remedial education, as part of the Support Programme for Refugees Settlements and Host Communities in Northern Uganda (SPRS-NU) funded by the European Union Emergency Trust Fund (EUTF).

Esther’s dream is to become an accountant one day. Through this she hopes to earn income, build a house and take care of her children. She advises fellow young girls to enroll back in school because with education their future is bright.



Becoming a trainer of farmers is a great opportunity for me!

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Kenneth Probes for answers during a training with Munguci farmers group members

“My name is Kenneth Tako aged 26 years and I am a refugee from South Sudan. I was trained to become a trainer of farmers in February 2017, this is a dream come true!”.

“I am now the trainer for Munguci, Asante and Unity farmer groups in Wanyange village, Rhino settlement in Arua district, Northern-Uganda”.

Kenneth is one of the 10 trainers that underwent the Training of Trainers(ToT) in Participatory Agro Enterprise Development (PAED) Emergency Enabling Rural Innovation (EERI) livelihood approach. Each farmer group he trains comprises of 25 to 30 members.

Kenneth notes that during the ToT, he was trained on how to train other farmers in leadership, group constitution, approaches of mobilizing farmers, visioning, innovative agricultural practices for house-hold food security and self-reliance among others.

“As a trainer, I am targeting by mid-2017; at least 90% of the households within the farmer groups that I am training to have a kitchen garden that will improve their diet and also act as an income generating project for each family represented” says the enthusiastic Kenneth. As part of his role, he was given a bicycle to monitor individual households under the three farmer groups practicing the PAED EERI approach.

Kenneth rides his bicycle to monitor households in Wanyange 1 village, Rhino refugee settlement.


Kenneth was shortlisted after an advert by ZOA that required an agricultural certificate, reference letter from the Refugee Welfare Council (RWC), and a refugee native among others.

“I trained in agriculture but needed to practice the knowledge I gained and this is a great opportunity for me. I now earn an income to take care of my family. I hope to study further and contribute to the betterment of my community”.

Under the Consortium of NGOs led by Danish Refugee Council (DRC), ZOA is supporting refugee settlements and host communities in the Northern Uganda district of Arua (Rhino Settlement) to achieve home based food security, income and empowerment with funding from the European Union Emergency Trust Fund (EUTF).

European Union Emergency Trust Fund Launches the Support Programme for Refugee Settlements to improve food security and livelihoods

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Refugee Women sorting vegetables
Women from the Mungula 1 refugee settlement and host community sort vegetables together in preparation of a meal to be served on the launch day.

In a celebratory mood, small crowds of women, men and youth walk towards Mungula primary school in Mungula 1 Refugee Settlement, one of the already established camps in Adjumani district built to accommodate over 30,000 refugees in northern Uganda, just across the border from South Sudan. Clearly, their positive attitude is facilitated by their integration facilitated with the peaceful co-existence with the 

Refugee youth perform at the launch event 

The occasion to which the crowd proceeds, is the launch of the Support Programme for Refugee Settlements and Host Communities in Northern Uganda (SPRS-NU) funded by the European Union Emergency Trust Fund (EUTF) and aimed at supporting aspects of stability contribute to better migration management as well as addressing the root causes of destabilization, forced displacement and irregular migration in the Horn of Africa.

The SPRS-NU inauguration happens at a time of the rapidly expanding refugee influx in neighboring Uganda as a result of growing turmoil in South Sudan. The current civil war in South Sudan began in December 2013. Although it was triggered by disagreements within the government, its roots are historical and relate to the failure to create inclusive modes of governance in the newly independent country.

According to the UNHCR statistics (30th January 2017), of the 692,613 South Sudan refugees in Uganda, 64% are children below the age of 18 while 86% of this population are women and children whose critical needs must be addressed as a human right.

The critical needs of these refugees after settlement include enhanced livelihoods, provision of safe water and environmental sanitation conditions, skills for labor market relevance, conflict management and accelerated learning among others that are funded in this project by the EUTF to promote resilience, economic and equal opportunities, security and development and addressing human rights’ abuses.

In the presence of over 2,000 refugees and host communities, Hon. Hilary Onek and the European Union (EU) Head of Cooperation in Uganda, Michelle Labeeu, inaugurated the 10 million Euros SPRS-NU project with planting of trees at Mungula 1 refugee settlement in Itirikwa sub-county.

In her address during the launch of the programme, Ms. Michelle Labeeu commended Uganda’s exemplary hospitality and progressive refugee policies and added that “Uganda is not alone. Uganda can keep counting on the European Union’s support for handling such a challenging endeavor”. In furtherance, Ms Labeeu announced the decision of the European Union to add further 10 million Euros to the programme allowing to expand interventions to other effected districts.

 SPRS-NU is a 3-year programme implemented through three components: (i) Water and sanitation (WASH) component, managed by the Austrian Development Agency (ADA); (ii) Skills development & entrepreneurship training, managed by the Belgian Techincal Cooperation (BTC) Agency; and (iii) the Livelihoods, Conflict Management, Educational and Knowledge components, managed by a NGO Consortium, led by the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) consisting of the Save the Children, ZOA & CEFORD.
Ambassador Hugo Verbist and Belgian Artist Daan Stuyven plant a tree at Mungula refugee settlement

On this occasion, Minister Onek and the Head of Cooperation at the EU Delegation to Uganda, Ms. Michelle Labeeu, planted trees in commemoration of the inauguration of the SPRS-NU. The Ambassador of Belgium Mr. Hugo Verbist, and the Head of Austrian Development Agency Mr. Günter Engelits, also planted trees alongside refugees and host community members to signify a dignified co-existence of refugees and host communities in the refugee districts of northern Uganda including Adjumani, Arua and Kiryandongo.

Officiating as Guest of Honor, Minister Onek noted that Uganda has on its soil almost 1 million refugees and more than 85 per cent of the refugees currently arriving in Uganda are women and children under the age of 18 who lack access to proper shelter, food and health facilities, among other basic necessities



The hues of cultural diversity

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The hues of culture exhibit diversity of all time. I met these refugee women from the mirye tribe of south Sudan while they were performing at the launch of European Union Emergency Trust Fund programme in Mungula refugee settlement, Adjumani district in West Mile -Uganda.

The gap of language barier was bridged simply by joining them to dance to the dinka rythms- Cultural diversity. 

Belgian Development Agency (BTC) in partnership with Ministry of Education commission NTC MUNI

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H.E Hugo Verbist, the Belgian Ambassador to Uganda and Alex Kakooza the Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Education officially commission the administration block as part of phase one of construction and rehabilitation work at NTC Muni. Looking on are Ministry officials and Arua District Leaders.

Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES) in partnership with Belgian Development Agency (BTC) officially commissioned the first phase of rehabilitated and constructed facilities at NTC Muni worth 9.2 billion under the Teacher Training Education (TTE) project.

To officially commission this project was the Ambassador of Belgium, His Excellency Hugo Verbist and the, the Minister of State for Higher Education, represented by the Permanent Secretary of Ministry Education, Alex Kakooza at a colorful event that took place at the National Teachers College, Muni, Arua district.

The TTE project is jointly implemented by the Ministry of Education of Sports (MoES) – Teacher Instructor Education and Training (TIET) Department and the Belgian Development Agency (BTC) to provide an improved student-centered and practice-oriented learning environment in 4 teacher training institutions (NTC Muni; NTC Kaliro; National Instructors College Abilonino; Health Tutors College Mulago).

In his remarks at the commissioning, the Ambassador noted “the emphasis on infrastructure and creating a stimulating work environment is certainly no coincidence. Some would say that the Belgians like to build and are therefore ‘born with a brick in our stomach’. However, this is not why we are supporting the rehabilitation of these facilities. Together with our focus on training and management, this is a wider approach”.

The results of the five-year commissioned TTE project that started in 2012 include; strengthening support supervision by central level (TIET department; Kyambogo University), strengthening the college management, strengthening pedagogy to improve the quality of teaching and learning, and rehabilitation, extension and equipment of the college facilities.                    

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education and Sports, Alex Kakooza, said that rehabilitation of National Teacher’s Colleges is one way through which the Government of Uganda is improving education standards. He further commended BTC and the Belgian Government for the great work done and the partnership.

In terms of infrastructure, NTC Muni has been equipped with lecture rooms, offices, multipurpose hall, a user-friendly library as well as ICT facilities, laboratory equipment and easily movable furniture for active teaching and learning. The college design also incorporated construction of climate-smart approaches that factored in renewable energy and sustainable architecture with elements of solar energy & biogas and water harvesting for the college sustainability.

H.E the Ambassador of Belgium to Uganda Hugo Verbist plant trees in the college compound of NTC Muni to signify protection of the environment

In terms of pedagogy, all the academic staff (52 lecturers) of the college underwent training in student-centred Active Teaching and Learning (ATL) methodology. This was supplemented with distribution of ATL Manuals to all teaching staff and to the college Library for students’ access.

In the past three years, frequent support supervision visits facilitated by the project were conducted by national experts from Kyambogo University and from MoES/TIET department to provide pedagogic support to the college Lecturers, Mentor Teachers, Librarians and Heads of Departments.

To enhance the college management, the globally certified “Franklin Covey 7-Habits of Highly Effective People” training was delivered to management staff and execution grants were disbursed for the college to implement priority activities of their strategic plan. Management and support staff also received a series of training in assets and maintenance management as well as on Behavioral Change.

It is with the above pedagogic, management and infrastructure support that the Ministry of Education in partnership with BTC is commissioning this project and launching the second phase of construction and institutional development works in NTC Muni.

This is my creed

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To Sail Beyond the Sunset…
To Strive,
To Seek,
To Find,
and Not To Yield,
There is no glass ceiling,
Just rise.