The World Bank Board of Directors approved a grant of $130.8 million from the International Development Association (IDA) to ease the movement of goods and people and improve access to social services and job opportunities in the refugee hosting districts in the West Nile sub-region of Uganda. It is financed through the IDA18 Window for Host Communities and Refugees.
The Uganda Roads and Bridges in the Refugee Hosting Districts Project will upgrade 105 kilometre (km) Koboko-Yumbe-Moyo road from gravel to bitumen and strengthen the institutional capacity of the Uganda National Roads Authority to manage environmental, social, and road safety risks.
“This road project marks our re-engagement and strong support for the transport sector, a key development pillar in Uganda. We expect it to bring economic and social benefits to both hosting communities and refugees and reduce the income disparities between West Nile and the rest of Uganda,” said Tony Thompson, World Bank Country Manager.
Uganda is the “land bridge” for the rest of the Great Lakes region, connecting its landlocked neighbors to coastal countries. The project will foster greater regional integration through trade with DRC and Southern Sudan, reduce travel time, and create employment for youth and women.
The transport sector contributes to about 3 percent of the country’s GDP. About 95 percent of freight traffic and 99 percent of passenger traffic takes place on Uganda’s road network. The traffic volume on the network has been growing at a rate of about 6 percent per year.
Uganda currently hosts the largest number of refugees in Africa and the third-largest in the world. Around 57 percent of the 1.4 million refugees living in Uganda live in the northern region, having come from Southern Sudan and the DRC. The historical lack of development in West Nile, a subregion in the North, combined with the continued inflow of refugees, has added to pressures on existing public services and infrastructure. Most refugee settlements are in rural and remote locations that increase the challenges for local economic development, thereby posing significant development challenges to both refugees and host communities.
The Government has prioritised interventions that create economic opportunities that benefit both refugees and host communities as a means of enhancing self-reliance and alleviating pressure on existing public service delivery and infrastructure. About 54 percent of refugees still depend on humanitarian assistance as their main source of livelihood. The proposed road corridor is the lifeline for the host and the refugee population of the districts of Koboko, Yumbe, and Moyo and passes close to Bidibidi (the most populous refugee settlement in Africa), Lobule, and Palorinya refugee settlements directly impacting 360,177 refugees and indirectly benefiting 810,529 refugees within the region.
The Koboko-Yumbe-Moyo project complements other transport investments by the World Bank Group in Uganda. The Bank is also financing the rehabilitation of the 340km Tororo-Mbale-Soroti-Lira-Kamdini road under the Uganda North Eastern Road-corridor Asset Management Project and construction of the 100km of the Kyenjonjo-Kabwoya road under the Albertine Region Sustainable Development Project.
Original source: World Bank