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Humanitarian & Economic Recovery

July1-30, 2009

Transitioning Northern Uganda – One Year of OTI Activities

In June of 2008 USAID's Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI) opened the Northern Uganda Transition Initiative (NUTI) program in support of U.S. Government objectives to facilitate the transition from relief to humanitarian recovery in the North. Managed out of the USAID mission but operationally based in Gulu, OTI's program has focused on assisting local government, traditional and civil society leaders in their efforts to build public confidence in the peace that has returned to Northern Uganda. Moreover, OTI activities, which provided a kick-start to many recovery efforts are being reinforced by larger reconstruction initiatives coming online.

Seeing, Hearing and Feeling the Transition

The Northern Uganda Transition Initiative was started to fill a gap in programming that often occurs at the beginning of a peace process, democratic change or other transitional windows of opportunity. OTI decided to open a program to support the USG in promoting lasting stability in Northern Central Uganda (Gulu, Amuru, Kitgum and Pader Districts). The program, which quickly awards small in-kind grants to active local partners on the ground, focuses on three objectives:

  • Increase the visibility of and confidence in the government of Uganda
  • Increase access to information on peace, recovery and development
  • Support truth and reconciliation processes

Painting by Numbers

Since the program began in June 2008, USAID/OTI has funded 94 small grants totaling $4,140,000. These grants involved as many people as possible in reconstruction, rehabilitation and peace and reconciliation activities.

In a nutshell, OTI activities included:

  • 97,000 direct beneficiaries
  • Rehabilitated 262 infrastructure items in return areas
  • Supported 533 government engagements with their communities to resolve issues or consult on priorities
  • Sponsored 1136 radio spots on returns, peace, recovery, and reconciliation

Seeing is Believing

OTI supports the sub-county leaders in areas of high returns through a participatory approach, sitting with government and deciding together their needs and priorities. This demonstrates to the population that the government is in control and is striving to deliver services. Reconstruction is focused on markets, schools, health centers, water sources, and government offices.

An example of this is the Odek Primary 7 school. This was the school LRA leader Joseph Kony attended. The rehabilitation includes classroom blocks, teacher housing, latrines, and a kitchen in a very visible and symbolic statement that recovery has arrived even to the heart of where the rebellion started.

The More You Know ...

OTI is helping to deliver the message that the conflict is over in Northern Uganda through support to media and strategic communications initiatives. Residents of northern Uganda receive their information from radio. OTI is therefore providing both institutional support to ten radio stations and working with them to communicate messages on peace, reconciliation and recovery to a wide audience.

As an example, OTI is funding a soap opera series with 16 episodes that is playing over 400 times across various radio stations. This series provides a creative format for returnees to interact on serious social issues, including domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse, conflict resolution at the village level, and re-establishment of cultural norms.

Let Us Heal, Learn and Celebrate

The returnees have increasingly expressed a need for cultural solutions to social issues such as conflict resolution, cleansing and healing, and the celebration of peace. OTI is supporting the Acholi Paramount Chief and other respected cultural organizations to breathe life back into the cultural practices, many of which were eroded when residents were moved into IDP camps.

An example of this occurred as returnees found bodies of those killed during the conflict on their land. Traditional leaders must cleanse the land and re-bury the bones to allow the returnees to be free from the trauma of the conflict that they often describe as ghosts of those killed. To date, OTI has supported local traditional leaders in this process in over 80 ceremonies. Another example is OTIs support for the traditional way of passing on oral tradition from elder to youth. It is done fireside at night. OTI is supporting 12 of these events.

OTI supported a dance competition between all the sub-counties in Gulu district to revive Acholi dance customs and bring communities together. Over 40 different groups vied for the title of best dancers. The events brought together thousands of people in a celebration of peace and cultural revitalization. This event will be repeated in Amuru, Kitgum and Pader soon.

OTI has also been supporting the GoU's Justice, Law and Order Sector (JLOS) in their process toward fulfilling Annexure III of the Juba peace agreements. We have funded the U.S.-based Public International Law and Policy Group (PILPG) to carry out sensitization of the new War Crimes law in four regions of the country. We are also supporting the JLOS study tour of Northern Uganda focusing on gathering information for traditional justice mechanisms to be incorporated into the Ugandan legal framework. This project is receiving a majority of funding from Sweden, Finland and the Netherlands, with logistics and coordination carried out by OTI. OTI also funded the Northern Uganda Transitional Justice Working Group (NUTJWG) as they carry out their annual meeting focusing on the role of civil society in the truth and reconciliation process. Finally, OTI supported a meeting between cultural and political leadership focusing on solving land disputes.

Music, Theater and Sports

At the request of the District offices, OTI funded sporting events, music events and theater productions to provide opportunity for the youth to engage in cathartic entertainment activities and bring a sense of normalcy back in the daily lives of the returnees.

OTI supported a series of 20 concerts. These concerts titled Peace and Love at Home brought together rock and rap bands from Acholi to deliver entertainment and messages of peace. They were attended by thousands of residents. According to one concertgoer: I have never seen this many people together outside of a food distribution.

At the request of Gulu District Sports Office, OTI rehabilitated 11 soccer fields for District-sponsored soccer matches among the youth – purchasing balls, uniforms, shoes and medals. The Federation of Uganda Football Association (FUFA) held a tournament in the north and a sub-sequent celebration for the victors in Kitgum with OTI support.

Breaking the Ground

Our programs have kick started/led the way for other donor activities that are soon to come online and continued USG development initiatives that have totaled 160 million dollars a year since FY07. These new activities include: DFID's new £100 million British Pounds programming for the north; a $100 million World Bank reconstruction program (NUSAF II) set to start later this year; a promised $200 million GoU funded initiative as part of their commitment to the Peace Recovery and Development Program (PRDP), and a large Japanese Government (JICA) reconstruction program.

Coordination with Other USAID Programs

OTI partners with many other USAID programs, adding value and serving as an opportunity to learn and try out new ideas. These mission programs include: NUDEIL – focusing on northern reconstruction; NUWSSP – focusing on water for Kitgum and Pader districts; UNITY – the flagship education program; and SPRING – the mission's social transition program, among others.

One significant and symbolic project is the building of the Amuru district engineers office and government staff housing in the newly created Amuru District. Currently much of Amuru business is conducted in Gulu due to a lack of government facilities. Supporting Amuru government infrastructure has helped make returnees more comfortable with returning to the area and gives provides better access to services.

At the request of Gulu and Amuru Chief Administrative Officers (CAO), OTI supported the Districts needs for technological expertise for engineering activities through the purchased 20 computers and is offering specialized training in AUTOCAD (sophisticated engineering software) and other engineering software to the Gulu and Amuru district engineering staff.

The Gulu and Amuru District Engineers expressed the need for additional staff to allow time to plan reconstruction efforts and alleviate a severe workload backlog. OTI supported this request through the hiring of two additional engineers per district.

With support from OTI's quick impact and highly participatory activities, the north's transition from conflict to stability is marching forward. The 80% return rate of IDPs to or near their homes, provided by the UN and the local government, indicates that returnee's confidence in peace and government efforts is high. We expect that with larger reconstruction activities coming online, the progress made by OTI's quick transition activities will be cemented and reinforced.

April 1-30, 2009

Our Gulu field office advisor reports that the security situation remains calm in the LRA-affected districts of the north. The return of internally-displaced persons (IDPs) and recovery and reconstruction activities continue. The joint military operation in DRC is a distant concern for residents in northern Uganda. IDP return figures remain strong with UNHCR reporting 538,000 individuals having returned to their villages of origin in the four Acholi districts of Gulu, Amuru, Kitgum, and Pader.

The major source of conflict affecting the recovery process is land disputes. Deaths are regularly reported as a result of land disputes across LRA-affected districts. The most serious problems are reported in Gulu, Pader, and Amuru districts. Other areas outside the Acholi sub-region are also reporting incidents. USAID has implemented programming designed to engage local communities on these issues, including through the "No Violence Over Land" public outreach campaign activity under the Northern Uganda Transition Initiatives (NUTI) program and through the Pader Peace Forum project.

Gulu District Chairman Norbert Mao hosted a meeting with humanitarian assistance donors regarding the closure of camps in the district on April 15. At the meeting, Mao emphasized that camp closure and returns will be conducted according to the camp phase-out guidelines issued by the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM). He further emphasized that activities related to camp phase-out and returns must be coordinated with the district government. He noted that a key to securing resettlement was provision of basic services such as health and education. He stated in the meeting that he had requested USAID to expand its support in the education sector. Mao also noted that the district was planning to set up a fund to support landless and Extremely Vulnerable Individuals (EVIs) who continue to live in the camps. He requested donors consider supporting the fund. He also noted that a list of landowners requesting compensation for use of their land for IDP camps had been submitted by all Chief Administrative Officers (CAOs) in the region to the Ministry of Lands.

USG Activities: In support of the USAID's country strategy development process, USAID health and education staff from Kampala joined implementing partners in assessment visits to seven districts in the Acholi and Lango regions of the north. The objective of the trip was to consider USAID/Uganda's support to seven Peace, Recovery, and Development Plan (PRDP) districts in the areas of planning, coordination and service delivery. The team met with local government officials and beneficiaries in the field. The results of the trip have been consolidated into recommendations for the U.S. Mission. A major focus is to improve coordination with the existing district development planning processes.

USAID's conflict advisor reviewed nine activities in the area of economic conflict mitigation under USAID's Stability, Peace, and Reconciliation in Northern Uganda (SPRING) program during a field visit to Gulu, Kitgum, Pader, and Lira the week of April 1. The advisor noted that SPRING's economic activities appeared to be good initiatives. However, more effort needed to be placed on integrating these activities with other components of the program such as access to justice and peace and reconciliation. Another recommendation was the need for smaller grants to Ugandan community-based organizations to improve the community impact of the SPRING activities.

USAID/SPRING, in partnership with the Ugandan Veterinary Association (UVA) and the Ministry of Agriculture, organized a week of events to celebrate World Veterinary Day on Saturday April 25 as part its on-going support to the promotion of private veterinary services in northern Uganda. Activities included free vaccination services in Gulu and Amuru Districts for areas not covered under Veterinary Civil Affairs Project exercises conducted by Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA). SPRING sponsored a livestock farmer training in Gulu for 100 farmer group representatives on "Livestock Management and Disease Surveillance", radio talk shows hosted by the District Veterinary Office and the UVA, and animal check points to advise on proper animal transport. The occasion marked the first time World Veterinary Day has been launched in northern Uganda. The activity not only furthered the goal of ensuring economically productive livestock in the north, but also contributed to stabilization efforts in northern Uganda.

USAID's Livelihoods and Enterprises for Agricultural Development (LEAD) program completed an assessment of the agriculture input sector in Uganda as part of its efforts to improve quality of inputs including equipment, fertilizers and pesticides to farmers. Key findings included: Uganda's per hectare fertilizer use is one of the lowest in the world, resulting in lower crop yields; farmers are not well informed about the use of agricultural inputs; the input dealer network in Uganda is poorly organized and dealers lack the knowledge or technical skills to properly advise farmer clients on the use of inputs; counterfeit inputs abound and regulation is weak. Of importance to reconstruction and development in the north was the finding that rural farmers lack access to inputs, the quality is poor, and dealer infrastructure is non-existent in rural areas. Sixty percent of LEAD activities are conducted in the north in PRDP-targeted districts and as such the assessment placed emphasis on the north. The LEAD program is using the information gathered to tailor its farmer training and is also developing other interventions based on the information.

USAID/Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI) approved four grants in April. These included support for reconciliation activities, including traditional fireside chats, a program supporting the government's attempt to diminish land violence in Amuru, and support to the Gulu and Amuru district engineers for supplying computers and training on critical information technology programs. Important events were the inauguration of Amuru Alero primary schools which were fully rehabilitated and provided with teacher housing and a kitchen; the handover of bicycles to village leaders in Agoro sub-county, Kitgum District; and a consultative meeting at the Kitgum District Local Council levels of leadership on the preparation of their plans for the PRDP. Also, traditional cleansing ceremonies in areas to purify the land and facilitate IDP returns were ongoing across the north. To date, USAID/OTI has been able to work directly with 81,000 people across the north in its various activities.

On March 13, the Prime Minister of Uganda, Apollo Nsibambi, announced that the Government had secured $243 million to kick start reconstruction programs for the rehabilitation of northern Uganda. While chairing a consultative meeting attended by donors and legislators from the north, Nsibambi said the funds will finance the first year of the Peace, Recovery, and Development Plan (PRDP), which will be implemented beginning in July. Meanwhile, northern parliamentarians threatened to petition court to stop the government from including eastern districts in the PRDP. The legislators argue that PRDP should cater only to the 29 districts that were affected by the LRA insurgency, and not to the 40 proposed by the government.

The latest Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) return figures from UN Office for the Coordinator for Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) for LRA-affected districts remain strong. Amuru District remains the weakest in terms of return figures. Most experts agree this is due to the poor level of health and education services available at the sub-county and parish levels in the newly-created rural district. Local and national government officials, who consult regularly with USAID in Gulu, also believe that provision of services "closer to home" is a key to ensuring continued returns in the region. Many families in Acholiland have their feet in three places: a hut in the original (mother) camp, some form of shelter or hut in transit sites (satellite camps), and a shelter in their village of origin where they are working the land. This was confirmed during a recent site visit by a Food for Peace team that saw people building at home, but clearly still living in the transit camp eight kilometers away. The story is different in other LRA-affected areas, including Lango and Pader Districts, where the returns are complete and camps have been dismantled. There, it is clear that formerly displaced persons have settled permanently in their home areas.

USG Activities: USAID's health and education programs staff based in Kampala traveled to the north on March 23 for a week-long review of programming and field visits. A combination of 50 USAID and implementing partner staff members separated into seven groups to conduct field visits in the following districts: Gulu, Amuru, Kitgum, Pader, Lira, Oyam, and Dokolo. Common findings from the field visits included: a need for small infrastructure development across the districts and an agreement that the north lagged behind other parts of Uganda in terms of social infrastructure including schools, clinics, sanitary facilities at both schools and clinics, and water points; lack of comprehensive understanding among district leadership about USAID programs; the need for USAID to align programs with district development plans; weak civil society development and community capacity to advocate for their needs or link to government; and clear need for USAID to have greater outreach to district governments and communities to enhance programming.

February 1-28, 2009

On February 4, the Speaker of Parliament, Edward Ssekandi, ordered fresh consultations with all stakeholders on the Peace Recovery and Development Plan (PRDP) after northern parliamentarians rejected Minister for Northern Uganda David Wakikona's PRDP progress report.

Amuru District Chairman, Patrick Okello Oryem said 52% of IDPs in the LRA affected north had left the main camps to resettle in their homes. Kitgum's District Chairman, Komakech John Ogwok, reports that 70% of the people in his district have returned to their homes. This was the result of the improvement of the security situation in the region and the increasing presence of government institutions in the villages, including police and local council officials.

USG Activities: The Livelihoods and Enterprises for Agricultural Development (LEAD) program is a key initiative targeting economic development throughout Uganda, including a dedicated presence and activities in northern Uganda. LEAD is active in a number of PRDP districts and is beginning activities in key LRA-conflict affected districts including Gulu, Amuru, Kitgum, and Pader. LEAD is unique among current donor projects in the agricultural sector in the north because whereas many donor interventions focus on food security and providing seeds and implements to returnees to restart subsistence agriculture in their villages. LEAD focuses on enhancing farm-to-market opportunities and rebuilding commercial agriculture in the north.

USAID's Office of Transition Initiatives (USAID/OTI) completed the handover of a block of administrative offices for Purongo Sub-County, Amuru District to the Local Council Chairman. The Amuru County District Chairman attended along with other leaders from the district and county levels. The event created a great deal of excitement in the new district and featured local dancers and musicians.

USAID/OTI completed the rehabilitation of eleven soccer pitches at primary schools in each of the sub-counties in Gulu District. The U.S. Government donated nets, uniforms, and soccer balls to the counties. The pitches will contribute to the normalization of life for returnees, and provide opportunities for communities to come together for the first time since the war began. It also provides an outlet for young people, many still suffering from the trauma of the conflict.

USAID/OTI approved several grants in February, including one providing support for the Acholi Cultural Organization, Ker Kwaro, to carry out cleansing ceremonies for return populations across Kitgum district. The USG also supported a Ugandan Football Association-sponsored soccer competition for the north in Gulu, and an activity assisting the upgrading of Opit internally-displaced persons (IDP) camp in Gulu District to town status.

January 1-31, 2009

The Government of Uganda (GOU) announced delay in the implementation of the Peace, Recovery, and Development Plan (PRDP), its framework for the rehabilitation and recovery in war ravaged northern Uganda. In a letter dated December 22, 2008, Prime Minister Nsibambi informed donors that the implementation of the PRDP would begin in July 2009. The Prime Minister reluctantly took this step after northern parliamentarians raised concerns about the capacity of the government to deliver planned projects and ensure accountability within the current PRDP structure. Northern politicians requested the delay and commended the Prime Minister for his honest appraisal of the PRDP's shortcomings. Government officials are fully aware of the political ramifications of their decision, but stated that "getting it right" was more important than rushing forward and not being able to deliver critically needed services. The delay does not affect ongoing U.S. Government programs supporting PRDP priority sectors in health, education, agricultural, and infrastructure.

In response to negative media reports, the Government issued a press statement on January 9 saying it had not suspended the PRDP. The GOU explained that the Ministry of Finance, line ministries, the districts, and the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) struggled with the challenge of disaggregating additional resources from normal budgetary allocations. Nsibambi stated that between January and July, PRDP activities within the districts would be prioritized for full-scale implementation beginning in July 2009. During this period, each ministry will submit its procurement plan to the PMO and strategies for measurable indicators would be developed and made available to all stakeholders. The statement also outlined activities under the PRDP framework including road construction, resettlement programs, provision of tractors to open up land, and electrification projects and ongoing donor programs. These included $163 million in development assistance from the U.S. Government, $100 million from the World Bank, and substantial contributions from Denmark, The Netherlands, and the European Union.

The PMO gave each district work plans to disaggregate PRDP funding requests by priority sector and to determine if the requests are in addition to the current budget allocation. The PMO established an office in Gulu, which will oversee PRDP implementation and provide assistance to district governments. The districts and ministries will provide the PMO with quarterly performance reports to determine whether the GOU is getting value for its money. The GOU promised to release funds in a timely matter to the ministries and district accounting officers.

USG Activities: In January, USAID's Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI) approved three new grants to rehabilitate a borehole, a health center, and staff housing for health workers in Gulu District. To date, OTI has approved 37 grants for $1.5 million. On January 22, the USAID Northern Uganda Advisor attended the inauguration of U.S.-funded grain storage facilities in Lalogi sub-county, Gulu District. On January 30, Mission personnel attended the final day of an OTI dance competition that had been organized in all 11 sub-counties in Gulu District. The purpose of this grant is to promote peace and reconciliation through the use of dance to help reinforce Acholi traditions and culture. Each sub-county held dance competitions between three to five dance groups, with the winners participating in final competitions at Pece Peace Memorial Stadium in Gulu. First prize included two oxen and plows for the dancers' communities. Bicycles and radios were given to other participants.

The USAID Mission Director hosted all USAID partner organizations working in the region to the first of its quarterly meetings for 2009. Over 40 representatives working in all sectors attended. The Mission Director laid out USAID's plans to revise the country strategy and strategic approach for the north as well as his vision for achieving greater synergy between USAID programs in the north. He also visited the Amuru/Alero Primary School, where OTI is rehabilitating classrooms, a kitchen, latrines and eight teachers' living quarters. Completion is slated for mid to late February.

Mrs. Browning and P/E Chief visited several USG-funded projects in Lira. At Otino-Waa Children's Village in Lira on January 29, Mrs. Browning toured the newly finished beekeeping facility and inspected the orphanage's connection to the electrical grid. Both projects received USG funding. The President's Emergency Program for HIV/AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) funded the beekeeping facility and the Ambassador's Self-Help Fund supported the electricity project. These projects provide income-generating opportunities for 200 children at the orphanage and some 20,000 families in the surrounding community. The community has been deeply affected by both HIV/AIDS and the LRA conflict.

The team met with Angelina Atim of Concerned Parents Association, an effective non-governmental organization that formed in response to LRA abductions in the north. Atim, whose human rights work has received significant international recognition, said that 24 of the 30 "Aboke Girls" who were abducted from their boarding school in 1996 are back. Atim reported that three of the former abductees were now pursuing university-level studies, two of whom were studying medicine. Atim said that the resumption of normal life in Lira has helped victims continue with their recovery from the psychological trauma of their experiences. However, she stated that more counseling and assistance should be provided to both victims and other members of society to overcome the affects of the conflict. The conflict's social impact can be seen in the high rate of alcoholism, teenage street children, and increased child prostitution. She and other concerned parents are planning a program to address these and other social consequences of the war. The project would also use truth-telling and other forms of reconciliation to help heal the trauma of the war.

On January 30, Lira District Chairman Franco Ojur told P/E Chief and Mrs. Browning that restoration of an effective educational system is his highest priority. He said that reconstruction of schools, latrine facilities, and teacher housing are critical. He expressed appreciation for USG-funded projects in the north. Ojur said that the local population in Lira is supportive of the joint military operation, but remain focused on day-to-day life. The harvest was disappointing due to poor rainfall.

P/E Chief and Mrs. Browning also visited U.S. Department of Labor-funded program to combat child labor on January 20. Over the past three years, Kenya-Uganda-Rwanda-Ethiopia-Together (KURET) Program to End Child Labor (KURET) provided assistance to over 5,000 children at risk for the worst forms of child labor in Lira and Dokolo Districts. The KURET program also created child labor committees to identify working children and put them in school. The program led to the creation of local by-laws to penalize employers and parents who exploit children for their labor. A new three-year program, Livelihood Education and Protection to End Child Labor (LEAP) implemented by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) is removing 11,000 children from hazardous work and will improve schools in locations near sites known for employing children, providing an indirect benefit to the entire community.

December 1-31, 2008

Ugandan officials and humanitarian organizations prepared for possible repatriation and returns of women and children from the LRA camps in the DRC, according to USAID's Northern Uganda office in Gulu. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and UNICEF are taking the lead on the return and repatriation of escapees and other non-combatants. The Ugandan Amnesty Commission's Gulu office reported that reception facilities are available in Gulu, Kitgum, and Lira to accommodate hundreds of returned children. Limited facilities also exist for adults. Services available through these facilities include housing, medical support, psychological counseling, family tracing and community re-integration support. IOM and UNICEF believe that existing facilities should be able to accommodate any large influx of individuals, which have in the past processed even larger numbers of victims, escapees, and LRA defectors.

Prior to the military operation, the World Food Program (WFP) had started to deliver food and emergency equipment into Dungu, a town in north-eastern DRC where thousands of people were displaced in October and November by LRA activities. WFP estimated that about 70,000 people were in need of assistance in an area, which was cut off from supply lines by insecurity. In Uganda, resettlement of internally-displaced persons (IDPs) in Amuru District was suspended after renewed LRA attacks in DRC and south Sudan. Rumors of possible renewed LRA attacks in northern Uganda continued to circulate, causing some IDPs to stay in the camps.

USG Activities: In early December, USAID's Assistant Administrator for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance, Michael Hess, visited northern Uganda to view the progress being made on the transition from relief to economic development. In Pader, Gulu, and Lira Districts, Hess met with local government leaders and USAID implementing partners, observed WFP food distributions, visited USAID-funded buildings under construction, and commissioned an USAID Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance-funded bridge.

On December 15, USAID's Peace and Security Advisor attended the graduation ceremony for operators of Hydraform brick-making machines in Teso. The ceremony marked the first public commissioning of a project funded through the PRDP. Over 100 youth from 40 districts were trained in brick-making, building construction, and small business development. The Prime Minister emphasized that the cost-effective and extensive construction of houses using the Hydraform bricks would benefit returnees by providing shelter, employment, and other opportunities.

The new USAID Northern Uganda Advisor arrived in Gulu. She paid courtesy calls on local government officials and emphasized the U.S. Government's continued commitment to stabilization and development in the north.

In December, USAID's Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI) in Uganda approved seven new activities for a total of $380,000 in Gulu and Amuru Districts. These included the rehabilitation of a community market, Alero sub-county office building, health center housing, and the Gulu District administrative block. OTI supported a cleansing ceremony through Ker Kwaro Acholi. The Paramount Chief of the Acholi cleansed land where returnees have found human remains and are therefore unwilling to return home. These traditional cleansing ceremonies pave the way for peace of mind and peaceful return to their communities of origin for the IDPs. It is estimated that return rates in Gulu District are above 90 percent, while in Amuru, over 50 percent of the IDPs have returned to or near their homes.

November 1-30, 2008

Kitgum District authorities launched the phase-out of Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps in November to further encourage IDP returns. Eighty percent of the IDPs in Kitgum have returned home while 20% remain, including the elderly, disabled and children, according to district officials. From October 28-30, the World Food Program (WFP) held a General Food Distribution (GFD) Phase-Off and Regional Strategy Workshop in Gulu Town. Key stakeholders, including local government, UN agencies, NGO and local partners, utilized the findings of three recent assessments to determine which sub-counties in Amuru, Gulu, Kitgum, and Pader districts would be phased-off of GFD. Preliminary decisions plan for 219,000 IDPs to be phased off by January 2009. A further 573,000 IDPs will require only seasonal food aid support for an additional three to six months. This decision will be reviewed once the findings of the December 2008 Land Use and Crop Yield Assessment (LUCYA) are available. It was estimated that 146,000 vulnerable IDPs will require food assistance through the end of 2009. District-level meetings will develop implementation plans for each sub-county's GFD phase-off process. The district implementation plans must include a communications strategy and sensitization programs.

USAID's Strengthening Democratic Linkages (LINKAGES) project hosted a series of meetings between the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) and key Parliamentary Committees and Members of Parliament (MPs) on the Government's Peace Recovery and Development Plan (PRDP) for northern Uganda. OPM is leading the PRDP effort, which brings together central government ministries, local governments, Parliament, civil society and development partners. The government has contributed $15 million to the PRDP as additional funds through various line ministries.

LINKAGES also supported district and select sub-county Local Governments in Amolatar, Arua, Kitgum, and Pader in their annual planning and budgeting activities through the Government's Harmonized Participatory Development Planning (HPDP) process. This support will help Local Governments in the conflict-affected areas improve their planning and budgeting processes and documents, provide opportunities for civic engagement in priority setting, and help to re-establish lower local governments after long displacement.

On November 13, USAID and Political/Economic Section Officers met with OPM's new Permanent Secretary to discus PRDP progress and USAID's Office of Transition Initiatives' programs in the north, including the Northern Uganda Transition Initiative program (NUTI). OTI is working with OPM to develop and implement a PRDP communications strategy, including establishment of a website.

On November 20, the USAID Mission Director briefed the Greater Northern Parliamentary Association, a caucus of 102 parliamentarians from West Nile, Acholi, Lango, Karamoja, and Teso sub-regions. The briefing helped northern parliamentarians understand the scope and depth of USG activities in the north. The briefing also helped the parliamentarians begin to develop a focused legislative agenda and to become stakeholders in the PRDP.

On 26 November, USAID hosted a reception to launch support for the Public International Law and Policy Group (PILPG). The reception also honored internationally-known Michael Newton's Uganda visit to provide legal advice on transitional justice to the various institutions within the Justice, Law and Order Sector. Newton was one of the U.S. negotiators of the ICC Statute. In a meeting with the Ambassador, Newton reported that the GOU is committed to domesticating the ICC Statute and moving ahead with accountability and reconciliation mechanisms.

October 1-31, 2008

On October 2, leaders in the north appealed to the World Food Program (WFP) not to end school feeding programs. The leaders argued that it is too early to end school feeding because many families can only afford one meal per day for their children.

The Acholi Parliamentary Group is seeking a court injunction to halt the Peace, Recovery and Development Plan (PRDP) for northern Uganda, claiming that the implementation of the PRDP is vague. Aruu County MP Samuel Odonga Otto said that the recovery project captures a large geographic area, including districts such as Kapchorwa, Busia, Arua, Mbale and Tororo, which were not LRA-affected. The parliamentarians argued that the project may not help the communities actually affected. Otto also said the government does not have money available for the PRDP activities and is waiting for donations from the international community.

On October 27, Minister of State for Northern Uganda David Wakikona warned leaders in northern Uganda against politicizing government programs, which are meant to rebuild the war-ravaged region. Wakikona urged the leaders to focus on recovery of their areas instead of politics. He added that if the leaders politicize developmental programs that investments, stability and security, and the local people would suffer.

USG Activities: Ambassador Browning participated in the handover ceremony for Invisible Children projects in northern Uganda on October 29. Invisible Children started operations in northern Uganda in September 2005. In 2007, it began a program named "Schools for Schools" which has linked 850 schools in the US to ten schools in LRA-affected districts of Amuru, Gulu, and Pader to reconstruct and rehabilitate damaged schools. Invisible Children raised $1 million, primarily from U.S. schoolchildren, in 100 days for the renovations, text book supplies, and teacher incentives. While in Gulu, the Ambassador met with local government officials, non-governmental organizations that implement U.S. programs, and staff at the USAID Northern Uganda Office.

USAID's office of Transition Initiatives (OTI) approved three new activities: a grant to provide engineering support to the Gulu District Engineer to advance a number of infrastructure projects; the purchase of furniture to equip sub-county offices and courtrooms; and rehabilitation of a borehole in Opaya primary school, an area of high levels of internally displaced persons (IDP) returns. This brings total funding under the OTI to $680,000 in support of 21 activities. In the Acholi districts of Amuru, Gulu, Kitgum, and Pader, approximately 37 percent of those who were internally displaced at the peak of the conflict remain in mother camps, 38 percent have moved to satellite or transit camps, and 28 percent have returned to their villages.

USAID donated approximately $6,000 to assist in the fight against diseases such as malaria, bilharzia, trachoma and river blindness in Amuru District. The administrator in charge of Vector Control Program, Richard Odokonyero, announced that implementation started in October and will be completed in November.

September 1 - 31 2008

Oxfam released its "From Emergency to Recovery: Rescuing Northern Uganda's Transition" report on September 4. The report indicated that despite the absence of an FPA, improved security in the north had allowed over 900,000 IDPs to return home. Oxfam noted, however, that recovery actors and services were not keeping up with the pace of return on the ground. The report suggested that many IDPs were also worried about the future of an FPA, and noted that the most vulnerable camp residents--widows, orphans, elderly people, the disabled and the sick--are being left behind in the camps, and that the dismantling of camp governing structures had left a leadership vacuum. Oxfam called on the UN to articulate a transition strategy, recommended that the GOU publicize information on its transition programs, and urged the international community to support the PRDP.

USG Activities: CJTF-HOA launched a Veterinary Civic Action Project (VETCAP) on September 22 in Gulu district. The VETCAP is expected to treat and inoculate up to 33,000 livestock. As part of the VETCAP program, CJTF-HOA specialists will work with Ugandan veterinarians, veterinary students, and district health and agricultural officials to provide care to livestock in and around the Gulu and Amuru Districts. On September 22, the DCM dedicated a CTJF-HOA-funded library and three buildings at the Kitgum District Referral Hospital.

USG Activities: CJTF-HOA launched a Veterinary Civic Action Project (VETCAP) on September 22 in Gulu district. The VETCAP is expected to treat and inoculate up to 33,000 livestock. As part of the VETCAP program, CJTF-HOA specialists will work with Ugandan veterinarians, veterinary students, and district health and agricultural officials to provide care to livestock in and around the Gulu and Amuru Districts. On September 22, the DCM dedicated a CTJF-HOA-funded library and three buildings at the Kitgum District Referral Hospital.

August 1-31 2008

Prime Minister Apolo Nsibambi announced on August 7 that The GOU has earmarked 158 million USD for police, judiciary, education, health, and water and sanitation in its 2008/09 budget for northern districts under the Peace, Recovery and Development Plan (PRDP). Minister of Education and Sports Namirembe Bitamazire announced that the GOU will construct 4,215 houses for teachers in the 40 districts covered by the PRDP. The first PRDP Monitoring Committee meeting will take place on September 30. Parliamentarian Ronald Reagan Okumu, from Aswa County, Gulu District, told Parliament that government support was lacking in return areas, where about 80 percent of the people displaced by the LRA conflict had returned to their homes.

USG Activities: USAID Mission Director David Eckerson visited Gulu, Pader and Lira districts from August 21-24, 2008 on his first trip outside Kampala since arriving in Uganda four weeks ago. In meetings with local authorities, traditional and religious leaders, USAID implementing partners and local communities, he listened to hopes for the signing of a final peace agreement with the LRA; plans for reconciliation and healing as displaced people return to their homes or take up permanent residence in former camps; and presentations as to how USAID-funded activities are helping in the transition from humanitarian relief to recovery and development. He emphasized to implementing partners the importance of working with and strengthening the capacity of local authorities and non-governmental entities, and harmonizing USAID activities with district development plans and results frameworks under the PRDP. A highlight of the visit was a ceremony in Opit on August 22, near Joseph Kony's birthplace of Odek, where local authorities presented tokens of appreciation to former IDP camp commanders for their voluntary service to communities during the worst years of conflict

USAID/Office of Transitional Initiatives (OTI) approved four new grants totaling approximately 120,000 USD. The first is a Hepatitis E grant with the Gulu District Health Department for 17,000 USD. On August 1, Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization launched an emergency plan to fight the Hepatitis E epidemic focused on teaching residents about proper hygiene, improving sanitation through construction of boreholes and pit latrines in IDP camps, and monitoring and treating infected people in northern Uganda. The second grant was to restore Odek local government administrative offices, which will allow sub-county officials to move back to their offices and begin providing services to their constituents. OTI cleared its first two grants in Amuru District.

July 12-31, 2008

A recent Action Contre La Faim's (ACF) nutrition survey in Gulu and Amuru Districts shows 1.4 percent increase of Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) and 8.7 percent increase of Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM). The last nutritional survey conducted in Gulu and Amuru districts by ACF in May, 2007, revealed SAM of 0.4 percent and GAM of 3.1 percent. Lacor St. Mary's Hospital in Gulu also reported 1,000 cases of severe acute malnutrition since April this year. The increase in malnutrition might be caused by a variety of factors as Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) return, the decrease in food security as they become more reliant on their own production, increase in diarrhea disease due to decreased access to potable water, poor sanitation and access to healthcare. A similar trend was seen in Lango region last year as IDPs returned to their homes from camps.

All districts in the Acholi sub-region have now established Camp Phase Out Committees and have begun the process of assessing conditions to recommend closure and/or interventions to help make a camp a sustainable community. Across the region, IDP returnees continue to gradually increase in number. Of the 1.1 million people living in IDP camps in the Acholi region at the end of 2005, 24 percent had returned to their homes at the end of June 2008.

Heads of UN Agencies, development partners and GOU local officials met in Gulu to discuss relief to development transition, PRDP implementation, and monitoring. Discussions highlighted a critical need for camp closure guidelines and consistent guidance on rights of both landowners and IDPs. Discussions also focused on expectations for the Peace, Recovery and Development Plan for Northern Uganda (PRDP), and the need for coordination, monitoring and oversight at both central and district levels. At the community level, few citizens understand or even know about the PRDP.

USG Activities: USAID/Food For Peace (FFP) contributed 12 million USD to World Food Program (WFP). As with previous contributions this year, FFP is continuing to earmark within WFP's Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation (PRRO) to ensure that contributions target areas of strategic interest to USAID/Uganda. This includes Karamoja and IDPs.

USAID/Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) provided 900,000 USD to UNICEF to augment Hepatitis E response in northern Uganda. WHO reported over 5,700 cases and 100 deaths since the outbreak began in Kitgum District in November 2007. The outbreak has now spread to neighboring districts. In addition to the UNICEF contribution, OFDA has extended three water/sanitation agreements in Kitgum and Pader totaling about 3.5 million USD. Meanwhile, on July 31, the GOU announced an emergency plan to fight the epidemic which will cost six million USD (ten billion shillings).

USAID/Office of Transitional Initiatives (OTI) Northern Uganda Transition Initiative NUTI program approved three new grants in July totaling approximately 215,000 USD. The first, to the Internews Network will help strengthen the capacity of key radio stations throughout northern Uganda to increase citizen exposure to quality and timely information. The second grant will renovate and furnish the administrative offices in Odek sub-county, Gulu District. The office building deteriorated to such a degree during the LRA conflict, that it is no longer functional. The renovation will help deliver essential government services to people in the sub-county and will act as a visible sign to citizens that stability is returning to the region. The third grant will fund a hand-over ceremony officially ending the role of IDP camp commanders, giving way to the normal Local Council (LC) government system in place in the rest of the country. The ceremony is symbolic of the GOU's new role in the development of northern Uganda. Musicians and dancers will perform, speeches will be given by area leaders, and token gifts of appreciation will be distributed to camp commanders for their volunteer work during the war.

In addition, USAID/OTI launched the first small grant to the Lalogi Farmers' Forum in conjunction with local government. Plows and other farm equipment were provided to the Forum to help returning households open land. The farm equipment was identified as a need in the joint government/UN camp phase-out assessment.

June 1 - July 11, 2008

Rumors of LRA sightings in northern Uganda and reports of a looming UPDF offensive have raised fears of renewed LRA attacks and abductions in the Acholi sub-region. The increased tension, however, has not resulted in movement from villages back to camps. Despite rumors and talk of a possible return to armed conflict in the press, the GOU, local leaders, and the humanitarian community continue to move forward with transition and recovery activities, support for internally displace persons' (IDPs) return home, and the transition of camps into viable communities. A local government assessment process has been established for the phase out of camps.

The forced eviction of IDPs from camps is a concern as camp phase-out moves forward. UNOCHA, UNHCR, and local governments are working to establish practical guidance to land owners, IDPs, and community leaders on their rights and responsibilities, and to establish a minimum period of notice that must be given to IDPs prior to relocation, or the destruction of abandoned property. Some IDPs already lease land in camps, and this is an increasing trend. The most vulnerable -- elderly, disabled and female- and child-headed households -- are at the highest risk of forced eviction and exploitation, and often remain in camps for better access to social services.

Hepatitis E has spread from Kitgum to neighboring districts of Gulu and Pader. There are now almost 5,000 reported cases. Poor sanitation in camps and return areas is contributing to the spread of the disease and hampering containment efforts. Latrine coverage in return areas ranges between three and six percent. National and District Level Hepatitis E Task Forces have been established. Response includes increased public hygiene messages in affected and adjacent areas; and, shock treatment of water points, increasing latrine coverage, training of village health teams on disease identification and treatment, and enforcement of by-laws on latrine use in affected areas.

May 3-31, 2008

IDP returns continue at a slow pace across the Acholi sub-region. The latest UN population movement statistics from March 2008 show 12 per cent of IDPs have returned home, 36 percent of the IDPs have moved to sites closer to their homes in order to better access land, and 52 percent of the population remains in the camps. IDPs have voiced apprehension over Kony's refusal to sign a final peace agreement, but it does not appear to be adversely affecting the return process. Local leaders continue to support de-linking the peace process from return and recovery.

UNHCR reports increasing incidents of forced eviction by landlord's who have been hosting the IDPs. Landlords are levying rent on IDPs remaining in camps in greater numbers, and pushing IDPs out who refuse to pay. It is important to note that levying rent in camps is a not a new trend, many IDPs have been paying some low level of rent. However, there had always been a great deal of leniency. There is concern that more vulnerable households will be pushed to more marginal areas. Currently, good statistics on the magnitude of forced eviction were not available. Thuggery and theft are also reported on the increase in both return areas and camps.

WFP and FAO continue to report that over 80 percent of the population has access to up to four acres of land, and the trend towards improved household food security continues. Direct distribution of agricultural inputs such as seeds and tools were required in only a few targeted area. The focus of food security interventions was shifting to farmer-based seed selection and storage for future seasons; strengthening local seed systems (versus direct distributions); and strengthening animal health care capacity.

On May 20, Gulu District Disaster Management Chairman Charles Uma announced there would be no more emergency relief supplies for the IDPs. He explained that the security situation had improved and that many people were returning to their homes. He encouraged the communities to plan to be self sustaining.

UNOCHA reports the Humanitarian Consolidated Appeal (CAP) fro 2008 is 31 percent funded, and aid agencies and government officials report that emerging humanitarian activities in the north are being curtailed because of the decline in funding and rising food costs. Some of the decline might also be attributed to increases in recovery and development assistance that are not well tracked through CAP.

In May, UNOCHA piloted an Integrate Assessment Tool to aid the Human community and local government's decisions on camp phase out. The covers health, education, water and sanitation, livelihoods, shelter, agriculture and food security and security (mines risk and presence of civilian police). The first assessment was completed in Lalogi sub-county, Gulu District and will soon be rolled out in other areas.

USG Activities: Extension of basic services such as education, healthcare and access to safe water, to return areas remained a concern. Humanitarian agencies and GOU continue to report high numbers of children remaining in camps to access schools. Districts in the Acholi sub-region have prioritized the "return" of primary schools; however, the teacher: student ratio remains critically low. USAID, in conjunction with the Ministry of Education (MOE), supports in-service training, a recruitment incentive for hardship areas, and are looking at ways to help communities build teacher housing. USAID/OFDA is rehabilitating and constructing latrines at schools in return areas, and increasing hygiene education. This promotes girls participation in education as well as the return process.

Hepatitis E continues to spread in Kitgum District. WHO reports 1991 cases to date. USAID/OFDA partners are increasing latrine coverage and hygiene promotion in the affected areas, promotion in the affected areas, and CDC deployed a team May 30. On Friday May 30, USAID/OFDA traveled to Hepatitis E affected areas in Kitgum district. Mortality rates are below emergency levels; however, due to low latrine coverage and poor sanitation the disease continues to spread. WHO reports a total of 1991 cases since the outbreak began in October 2007. USAID/OFDA partners IRC and AVIS are increasing water and sanitation activities in affected areas. USAID/OFDA recommends further support of these activities. On June 1, a CDC team arrived in Kitgum district to provide support to the MOHR.

March 1-April 18, 2008

IDP returns continue at a slow pace across the Acholi sub-region. The latest UN population movement statistics from March 2008 show 12 per cent of IDPs have returned home, 36 percent of the IDPs have moved to sites closer to their homes in order to better access land, and 52 percent of the population remains in the camps. IDPs have voiced apprehension over Kony's refusal to sign a final peace agreement, but it does not appear to be adversely affecting the return process. Local leaders continue to support de-linking the peace process from return and recovery.

UNHCR reports increasing incidents of forced eviction by landlord's who have been hosting the IDPs. Landlords are levying rent on IDPs remaining in camps in greater numbers, and pushing IDPs out who refuse to pay. It is important to note that levying rent in camps is a not a new trend, many IDPs have been paying some low level of rent. However, there had always been a great deal of leniency. There is concern that more vulnerable households will be pushed to more marginal areas. Currently, good statistics on the magnitude of forced eviction were not available. Thuggery and theft are also reported on the increase in both return areas and camps.

WFP and FAO continue to report that over 80 percent of the population has access to up to four acres of land, and the trend towards improved household food security continues. Direct distribution of agricultural inputs such as seeds and tools were required in only a few targeted area. The focus of food security interventions was shifting to farmer-based seed selection and storage for future seasons; strengthening local seed systems (versus direct distributions); and strengthening animal health care capacity.

On May 20, Gulu District Disaster Management Chairman Charles Uma announced there would be no more emergency relief supplies for the IDPs. He explained that the security situation had improved and that many people were returning to their homes. He encouraged the communities to plan to be self sustaining.

UNOCHA reports the Humanitarian Consolidated Appeal (CAP) fro 2008 is 31 percent funded, and aid agencies and government officials report that emerging humanitarian activities in the north are being curtailed because of the decline in funding and rising food costs. Some of the decline might also be attributed to increases in recovery and development assistance that are not well tracked through CAP.

In May, UNOCHA piloted an Integrate Assessment Tool to aid the Human community and local government's decisions on camp phase out. The covers health, education, water and sanitation, livelihoods, shelter, agriculture and food security and security (mines risk and presence of civilian police). The first assessment was completed in Lalogi sub-county, Gulu District and will soon be rolled out in other areas.

USG Activities: Extension of basic services such as education, healthcare and access to safe water, to return areas remained a concern. Humanitarian agencies and GOU continue to report high numbers of children remaining in camps to access schools. Districts in the Acholi sub-region have prioritized the "return" of primary schools; however, the teacher: student ratio remains critically low. USAID, in conjunction with the Ministry of Education (MOE), supports in-service training, a recruitment incentive for hardship areas, and are looking at ways to help communities build teacher housing. USAID/OFDA is rehabilitating and constructing latrines at schools in return areas, and increasing hygiene education. This promotes girls participation in education as well as the return process.

Hepatitis E continues to spread in Kitgum District. WHO reports 1991 cases to date. USAID/OFDA partners are increasing latrine coverage and hygiene promotion in the affected areas, promotion in the affected areas, and CDC deployed a team May 30. On Friday May 30, USAID/OFDA traveled to Hepatitis E affected areas in Kitgum district. Mortality rates are below emergency levels; however, due to low latrine coverage and poor sanitation the disease continues to spread. WHO reports a total of 1991 cases since the outbreak began in October 2007. USAID/OFDA partners IRC and AVIS are increasing water and sanitation activities in affected areas. USAID/OFDA recommends further support of these activities. On June 1, a CDC team arrived in Kitgum district to provide support to the MOHR.

March 1-April 18, 2008

UNICEF reports that by late-2007, 54 percent of the 1.8 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) had entered the return process, including half a million people settling permanently in their villages of origin and approximately 400,000 having made the initial movement out of the camps into transit sites. The majority of the IDPs in Apac, Amolatar, Dokolo, Lira, and Oyam Districts have returned to their homes of origin. In the Acholi sub-region (Amuru, Gulu, Kitgum, and Pader Districts), 35 percent of the remaining IDPs are expected to complete their return in 2008 with 45 percent in transit.

The Government held a Planning and Consultative Workshop on the Peace, Recovery, and Development Plan (PRDP) in Kampala on March 13-14. District-level officials, civil society groups, donors, private sector organizations, and the development partners came together for the first time to discuss PRDP programs, Government financing, and monitoring mechanisms. The workshop helped to develop a common understanding of the PRDP among all stakeholders and implementing agencies. A PRDP annex will be added to the national budget request for the fiscal year beginning on July 1, 2008.

USG Activities: USAID Administrator Henrietta Fore and Assistant Administrator for Africa Kate Almquist visited Uganda from March 12 to 15 and saw the transition from emergency relief to recovery in northern Uganda. Administrator Fore's delegation discussed the challenges of recovery and reconstruction in northern Uganda with the Principal Judge of the High Court, James Ogoola; district level officials from Gulu, Abim, Lira, and Pader; and Acholi traditional and religious leaders. A visit to Te-Tugu IDP camp showcases USAID's work on HIV/AIDS, malaria, and education.

Deputy Assistant Administrator for USAID's Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance Bureau, Elisabeth Kviatshvili and Cynthia Brady of USAID's Conflict Management and Mitigation Office visited Uganda from February 24 to March 4. They visited several USAID activities and communities in northern Uganda to better understand the transition the IDPs were making from camps to home villages and determine appropriate interventions to support peace, reconciliation, and development.

The Stability, Peace, and Reconciliation in Northern Uganda (SPRING) project started the first phase of its implementation on February 25. In March, SPRING teams began meeting with district officials, civil society groups, and development partners in the LRA-affected areas of the north.

USAID's Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI) will implement a program to support media development and strengthen local government to increase the quality and quantity of information reaching northern residents about the peace process and the PRDP. Other program components will support the construction of a service delivery infrastructure in the north.

The President's Malaria Initiative Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS) program in Gulu District reached 92 percent of the houses (9,220 out of 10,025) and provided protection for 28,341 individuals from mosquito bites. Insecticide treated nets are being used by 48.3 percent of the children under five years of age.

February 1-29, 2008

The USAID Northern Uganda Advisor reports that district governments are now represented at Protection Cluster meetings. The decision to invite government representatives was made collectively by UN agencies and NGOs, and demonstrates a change in the operating environment. Top protection concerns were forced eviction from camps and gender-based violence, which require government action. This request contrasts sharply from the period of time between 2000 and 2005 when human rights abuses by the LRA and UPDF were the top protection issues.

Subject to continued progress on the peace front, most U.N. agencies are planning to phase out humanitarian relief programs to support internally displaced persons in the LRA affected areas of Acholi sub-region by mid-2009, and by the end of 2008 in Lango sub-region where 99.6 percent of the population has left camps. In Acholi sub-region, the estimated camp population has decreased from 1.1 million in December 2005 to 659,459 in May 2007 with 497,155 in transit sites and 44,749 in their villages of origin.

Local officials and humanitarian organizations reported that a group of 250 children, most of them from Amuru District, were conned of varying amounts of money by a local NGO, Faith for Out Action, which promised them subsidized vocational training. The NGO's project coordinator was arrested in Gulu and the children were returned to their homes by authorities.

Long-standing stress and trauma in northern Uganda has resulted in a high prevalence of mental disorders, according to humanitarian organizations. Only minimal psychological support for victims is available due to inadequate numbers of professional staff in the field. Only 25 percent of health posts have been filled in Gulu despite a 30 percent increase in salary for all medical staff.

Severe staff shortages, particularly in return areas, plagued the health sector in general. In Gulu District, UNHCR reports one functioning health center in 26 return sites visited. In three locations, health services were received at the camp and were within the five kilometer national average for health centers. In four locations, health facilities existed, but were not functioning. Out of 91 return areas in Amuru District, UNHCR reports only five were functioning. Staff housing was considered to be one of the most important incentives to recruiting personnel to rural areas.

USG Activities: On February 20, Centers for Disease Control and USAID Directors traveled with a Congressional staff delegation to Gulu to observe Indoor Residual Spraying funded through the President's Malaria Initiative.

Thirty-seven district planners, health, education, community development and chief accounting officers, and local non-governmental organizations participated in a train-the-trainer program under USAID's Northern Uganda Malaria, AIDS, and Tuberculosis (NUMAT) program from February 21-22. The training program's objective was to create a cadre of local trainers skilled in coordination and delivery of health services at the local government level within the region. Particular attention was paid to developing strategies to more effectively coordinate HIV/AIDS programs in a post-conflict situation.

January 1-31, 2008

Freedom of movement and forced evictions have become the top protection issue in the Acholi sub-region. There was growing pressure from landowners and Government for the displaced population (IDPs) to return home. The issue was highlighted during a series of workshops and community meetings in Acholi sub-region in January. A key conclusion was that balanced camp closure procedures were urgently needed to handle a multitude of issues related to returns, camp closure, and transformation of camps into viable communities. Members of the humanitarian community noted that these procedures should consider options for populations that would stay in the camps/trading centers for economic opportunities or because they are unable to move. Another component of the issue is how to normalize these areas, including transitioning to renting or leasing land.

In the short-term, it would be important to consider the coping mechanisms many households were employing by keeping one foot in the camp and one foot in the return area. In the absence of a final peace agreement, large segments of the population remain apprehensive that the relatively secure environment of the past two years would not hold. Recent radio broadcasts by Museveni, setting deadlines for the LRA, and Kony's public remarks that it was not safe to go home, have added to the level of concern among IDPs.

Returns across the Acholi sub-region continue at a relatively slow pace. In addition to lack of a peace deal, IDPs cite the lack of building materials, clean water, education, healthcare and roads as impediments to return. There was widespread bush burning in order to clear fields and hunt, that has limited the amount of grass available for thatching material. The burning was largely uncontrolled and had become a public hazard. In some cases, private property was destroyed. Local leaders have begun community outreach and radio announcements to address the issue. In the short term, bush burning does reduce labor required to clear fields, a priority for most households.

USG Activities: USAID held a meeting of its northern Uganda partners in Gulu, January 24. A key concern was growing tensions between local government and NGOs. Tensions are particularly high in Gulu District, where Government representatives frequently broadcast complaints about NGOs over the radio. There are many NGOs that do not coordinate with local Government, operate without Memoranda of Understanding (MOU), or have poor performance records. Local governments would like to increase their coordination and oversight of activities in their districts. USAID's partners have sought support to help standardize MOUs and coordination procedures with local governments and to help educate local officials on how donor funding works. USAID will be reaching out to northern leaders to discuss these issues and what steps might be taken.

USAID launched three new conflict management and mitigation (CMM) programs for northern Uganda. Pader Peace-building with Mercy Corps, Internews training and program development with radio journalists, Civil Society participation in the Peace Recovery and Development Plan (PRDP) with CARE, and the new SPRING program that will work in three areas, peace building, livelihoods, and access to justice.

A Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa (CJTF HOA) Civil Affairs team conducted a month long Veterinary Civic Action Program (VETCAP) in Gulu and Amuru Districts during the month of January. The VETCAP assisted the Ugandan Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Industry and Fisheries in completing a district wide surveillance, treatment and control program for Trypanosomiaisis, tsetse fly and rabies. The project provided hands on training to Ugandan veterinarian students from Makerere University and local animal health care providers in designing a comprehensive district wide herd health program, tsetse fly control program, infectious disease diagnostic program and zoonotic disease control programs. Training on avian influenza was conducted and the proper method of inoculating for Newcastle Disease was demonstrated. The project also assisted the Ugandan government in providing healthy livestock to civilians relocating from IDP camps to their former villages. The seven person team from CJTF HOA, working with their Ugandan counterparts, treated over 30,000 animals at 42 different sites.

The CJTF HOA Civil Affairs Team, based in Kitgum, continued construction of the Children's Ward for the District Referral Hospital and a library in Kitgum. The team continued to evaluate potential future projects as well as develop plans for drilling new boreholes and refurbishing broken boreholes.

December 1-31, 2007

One-third of the internally-displaced persons in northern Uganda have returned home, according to the U.N.'s Office of the Coordinator for Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA). Approximately 513,993 of the 1.7 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) returned to their homes in Teso, Lango, and Acholi regions. Another 429,155 people were in transit near their homes. In Lira and Oyam districts, eight IDP camps were recommended for de-gazetting by the District Disaster Management Committees. Only one camp remains in Lira with a population of 2,200. An increasing number of people were moving from camps to transit camps or home villages in Kitgum district due to the availability of thatching materials for roofs.

Acholi leaders expressed concerns about the Government's request for land to be given to the Madhvani Group of Companies for a sugar factory in Amuru District. President Museveni accused Acholi leaders of "telling lies" that he wanted to grab land and give it to investors during a visit to Amuru. He pointed out the virtues of industrialization, particularly in an area with high unemployment. During a meeting between President Museveni and local leaders in Gulu on December 20, Rwot Acana, the Acholi Paramount Chief, was mandated to hold consultations with the Acholi on the issue.

USG Activities: The Presidential Malaria Initiative (PMI) project allocated approximately USD 10 million from its FY 08 Malaria Operational Plan to combat malaria in Northern Uganda through multiple interventions such as indoor residual spraying, long-lasting insecticide treated nets, patient treatment, and community education. In addition, the Malaria Communities Program allocated USD 1.5 million to West Nile and Karamoja regions for three year community-based malaria programs. Indoor residual spraying programs in Kitgum, Pader, and Amuru districts have been completed and in the coming months, the spraying program will be expanded to Gulu, Apac and Oyam districts. Bed net distribution to pregnant mothers through ante-natal clinics is continuing in 26 districts.

On December 17, USAID's implementing partner, Research Triangle Institute International, in collaboration with Ministry of Health Malaria Control staff conducted a sensitization workshop for religious, traditional, and government leaders, journalists, and heads of line ministries at the district level on Indoor Residual Spraying. Participants learned about the rationale for spraying, chemical management, and environmental and safety concerns.

The Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF HOA) continued work on the construction of a children's ward for the Kitgum Referral Hospital and a Library in Kitgum. The children's ward will be 240 square meters in size. It will house a small clinic and have wards for maternity, delivery, and pediatrics. A veterinary outreach project will be conducted in Gulu District and parts of Amuru District in January and February 2008. The veterinary project will provide inoculation against several common diseases for cows, pigs, goats, chickens, and dogs. Personnel from the U.S. Navy Construction Battalions will conduct a site survey in January to replace a bridge and a culvert in Lira District later in the year in conjunction with the Ugandan Peoples Defense Force (UPDF).

USAID signed a USD 9.5 million contract for the Stability, Peace, and Reconciliation in Northern Uganda (SPRING) program. USAID's implementing partner is the Emerging Markets Group (EMG). The new program focuses on peace and reconciliation, livelihoods, and access to justice for victims of conflict in northern Uganda.

During her visit to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on December 5, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced U.S. support for U.N. Special Envoy for LRA-Affected Areas Joachim Chissano's office in Kampala. In addition, the U.S. assistance totaling USD 330,000 will support the work of the five African observers to the talks. The observers, from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania, and South Africa play an important role in confidence-building and mediating between the two parties.

Secretary Rice also announced the provision of USD 1.5 million in immediate support for the disarmament, demobilization, and repatriation, rehabilitation, and reintegration of ex-combatants.

USAID's CAPACITY project trained northern medical and clinical managers in supervisory and performance improvement methods on December 10 and 11. The training specifically targeted districts and personnel covered by the Northern Uganda Malaria, AIDS,and Tuberculosis (NUMAT).

USAID's Northern Uganda Advisor participated in a meeting with actor Ben Affleck during his visit to Gulu on December 14. The purpose of Affleck's trip was to meet with local organizations responding to conflict and to raise awareness.

The Ministry of Education met with stakeholders to set priorities for post-conflict northern Uganda on December 20. They reviewed the findings of recent assessments and set sector priorities for the implementation under the Peace, Recovery and Development Plan (PRDP). The top priority was teacher housing, followed by teacher recruitment and classrooms. The number of schools available is directly linked to the return locations of IDPs. Special needs of certain populations, such as fishing communities and the disabled, also were discussed. The Ministry plans to replicate the stakeholders' meeting in Teso and other stops around the north.

November 3- 30, 2007

USAID Northern Uganda Advisor reports that population movement was expected to increase in the next few months (the dry season) in the LRA affected areas. Three patterns of movement will likely continue: (1) IDPs moving collectively to transit or satellite camps (2) IDPs moving directly to their homesteads, and (3) IDPs remaining in camps or trading centers. Due to close proximity of many IDPs to their land, the latter group could be 30 percent of camp population or higher. This challenges the traditional view among the humanitarian community of IDP return followed by reintegration. In northern Uganda, because of the close proximity of many IDPs to home, there would likely be a reintegration followed by return. The need for basic services such as water, education, healthcare and roads remains the same. If focus is placed on providing reintegration assistance, the return should take care of itself.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) successfully employed the use of radio to educate IDP's about returning home. UNHCR broadcast programs about security, education, health, and gender based violence on Mega and ChoiceFM, the major radio stations in Gulu area. Henry Leafe, Office Director of UNHCR in Gulu stated that radio was the most effective means of mass communication in rural communities.

Empowering Hands, a Gulu-based non-governmental organization, petitioned the UN to place greater emphasis on the plight of child abductees forced into child soldiering around the world. Former abductees who escaped the LRA founded the organization. Empowering Hands reintegrates escapees and freed children into their communities and provides counseling and training.

Caritas, a Catholic non-governmental organization, sponsored the surgery of 36 victims of the LRA from November 22-23. The patients had lost arms, ears, lips and other body parts during the insurgency of the LRA. They were from various sub- counties in the north. The Government of Uganda stated that it would sponsor a similar event next year at Mulago Hospital.

USAID Uganda's $9.2 million three-year Rural Savings Promotion and Enhancement of Enterprise Development (Rural SPEED) ended on 9 November. This concluded a decade of Mission exclusive support to the micro, small and medium enterprise (MSME) finance industry during which USAID leadership influenced the robust and rapid growth of the MSME sector. USAID's partnership with the private sector achieved several successes in the micro and small finance industry.

The Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS) program was launched in all Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps and villages where former IDPs are returning to their homes in northern Amuru district last week. This program targets 110,000 households to be sprayed with Government of Uganda-approved synthetic pyrethroids (ICON-WP) and will protect approximately 420,000 people from malaria. The program was officially launched by the Honorable Dr. Steven Mallinga, the Minister of Health, who informed the public that IRS conducted in Uganda with President's Malaria Initiative (PMI) support reduces the malaria burden in Western and Northern Uganda. In the next two months the northern districts of Gulu, Oyam and Apac will also be sprayed. In 2008, 15 districts in Uganda will benefit from the PMI IRS spraying.

The CJTF HOA civil affairs team started the construction of a children's ward for the Kitgum Referral Hospital. The children's ward will be 240 square meters and house a small clinic and have wards for maternity, delivery, and pediatric. Construction on a library in Kitgum has also started. Work continues on providing clean drinking water to Northern Uganda and contracts to drill several wells have been finalized. In January, a veterinarian civil affairs project will be conducted in Gulu District and parts of Amuru District. This project will provide inoculation against several common diseases for cows, pigs, goats, and dogs.

October 20- November 2, 2007

Comprehensive assessments will be conducted throughout the month of November in the Acholi, Lango, Teso, Elgon, and Karamoja sub-regions, to determine the food security situation of the IDP's and the flood-affected. The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) will lead crop assessments, joined by WFP, the GoU, and the Uganda FEWSNET Representative. Meanwhile WFP will lead Emergency Food Security Assessments (EFSA) and Nutritional Assessments also with the participation of the GoU, other UN agencies, and NGOs. Donors have been invited to participate in the assessments. Besides the FEWSNET involvement in the crop assessment, USAID also plans to participate in some of the EFSA and nutritional assessment work. The comprehensive round of assessments was motivated in great part by the donors' reservations and concerns about the sensationalism and lack of evidence-based assessments in regards to the recent UN Flash Appeal for the flood-affected areas. The headline results of the assessments are expected at the beginning of December.

A recent study by the Inter Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Working Group found that there had been steady progress in the reintegration of IDP's into their natal villages and/or surrounding areas. These changes were most profound in the areas of Lango which had a return rate of 97 percent and West Nile with a return rate of 77 percent. However, the districts of Teso, Toro, and Acholi had high rates of displaced people, remaining in camps in some places almost 90 percent.

October 6 - 19, 2007

On October 15, President Museveni and Prime Minister Apollo Nsibambi hosted a function to officially close the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) for the Emergency Humanitarian Action Plan for Northern Uganda, (which had been implemented since May 2006 )and also launch the Peace, Recovery and Development Plan. At least 500 guests attended the ceremony marking the transition from emergency assistance to recovery and development in war-torn northern Uganda. Charge and USAID Peace Support Team Chief attended. The PRDP will bring USD 606 million to northern Uganda over a three year period, with the GoU stating it will meet 30 percent of the cost.

President Museveni has ordered the immediate dispersment of PRDP monies to individuals who lost limbs as a result of the insurgency in the north. He stated that his advisor on northern issues, Richard Todwong had compiled a list of 1,800 people in Gulu whose limbs were amputated by the LRA. Museveni complained that giving the LRA USD 600,000 for consultations as part of the Juba peace talks while their victims lived pitiable lives was unfair.

The World Food Programme began airlifting food to more than 248,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Acholi and Lango regions affected by floods. Heavier than normal rains since July continue to affect the region. However, USAID, DFID and ECHO were concerned about inflated numbers of people affected and assistance needed. There were concerns that WFP overstated the urgency of the food needs and opted for expensive air operations in locations before other less expensive options were fully explored.

U.S. Activities: The U.N. Flash Appeal for flood response requests USD 41.4 million for 300,000 beneficiaries. To date, the Flash Appeal received approximately USD 6 million from the U.N. Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) and USD 17 million from donors. USAID/OFDA has provided USD 500,000 for seeds and emergency shelter materials in the worst affected areas of Teso sub-region.

Combined Joint Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) has actively worked to restore people's livelihood in Northern Uganda. Over the past year, the CJTF-HOA Civil Affairs Team repaired 75 boreholes. These boreholes bring fresh drinking water to over 300,000 people in war affected areas of Northern Uganda. The construction of a pediatric ward at the Kitgum District Referral Hospital, a library in Kitgum and funding to drill 48 new boreholes in Lira, Pader, and Kitgum Districts have been approved.

September 22- October 5, 2007

The districts of Gulu, Kitgum, Moroto, and Nakapiripirit have been blacklisted by the Northern Uganda Social Action Fund (NUSAF) which aims to end poverty. Sam Sakwa, NUSAF director of programs stated that the districts failed to accurately account for the funds received. However, Sakwa noted that the rate of completion for NUSAF funded projects is almost 80 percent and that funds have been properly managed.

On October 3, the New Vision newspaper reported that several members of Parliament (MPs) want the Northern Uganda Social Action Fund (NUSAF) to be investigated by the Inspector General of Government. Their request is based on a recent report by the committee on foreign affairs which alleged that the funds have been misappropriated and used to fund ghost projects. For example, when the committee visited Kotido they found a ghost borehole called,"Um-um borehole drilling subproject." Although, the committee questions the steadfastness of NUSAF I they have suggested that NUSAF II be initiated in March 2008 upon the expiration of NUSAF I.

On September 24th the Ministry of Health opened the Ogur Youth Information and Care Centre in Lira. The center received USD 117,000 to promote awareness about HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases, and early pregnancy.

President Yoweri Museveni will visit the flood ravaged region of Teso on October 6 as part of a tour of northern Uganda. Museveni stated that the government of Uganda had earmarked USD 1.1 million for relief and rebuilding in the affected areas.

USG Activities: In response to the floods in eastern Uganda, OFDA transferred USD 500,000 of International Disaster and Famine Assistance (IDFA) funds to the Mission. The funds were obligated as follows: USD 400,000 to the FAO for seeds, planting materials and tools and USD 100,000 to the Uganda Red Cross for plastic sheeting and water purification materials.

USG Activities: CJTF-HOA has implemented several building projects in northern Uganda which include a library in Kitgum, a referral hospital pediatric ward, and several UG wells.

September 8 - 21, 2007

The official phasing out of internally-displaced persons (IDP) camps in Lango sub-region began on September 18. The GOU stated that the phase-out illustrated its commitment to a peaceful resolution of the LRA conflict and the reconstruction of the north.

The U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization initiated a food drive to meet the needs of returning IDPs. The regions of Lango, Acholi, and Teso are currently participating in the cassava planting program that was launched in November 2006. Other crops being harvested include maize, rice, sweet potatoes, ground nuts, sorghum, sim sim and millet.

Severe flooding has cut off roads in 25 districts in the northern districts of Teso, Lango Acholi, Karamoja, and West Nile regions. Bridges in Pader and Gulu districts have become impassable. On September 12, Prime Minister Apollo Nsibambi called an emergency meeting to address the disaster. The Government dispensed by boat emergency supplies and food such as maize and beans. Non-governmental organizations such as World Health Organization, UNICEF, Lutheran World Federation, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and Population Services International have donated funds and pledged blankets, mosquito nets, plastic sheeting, and water treatment tables. A spike in disease and infections was expected.

USG Activities: On September 14, the U.S. Ambassador to Uganda declared a disaster for the flooded districts in northern Uganda, resulting in the release of USD 100,000 to provide assistance to affected areas. A joint USAID-Uganda and Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance assessment team had visited the flood affected Teso region from September 4 to 7. Early reports issued suggested that over 150,000 people were affected. The U.S. assessment team found the number to be 50,000. Assistance to be provided includes food, plastic sheeting, seeds, and cuttings for the forthcoming planting season. The cumulative effects of the rainfall have begun to compromise the structural integrity of many dirt homes, contaminate wells, inundate latrines, and wash away seeds and cassava cuttings. The USAID team also reported significant crop loss, minimal food reserves, and a lack of planting material for the upcoming agricultural season. An additional USD 400,000 has been released from Washington to aid flood victims.

The USAID-funded Community Resilience and Dialogue Activity (CRD), implemented by International Rescue Committee (lead), Associazione Volontari peri il Servizio (AVSI), CARE, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and Save the Children Uganda (SCiU), closed on August 31. The USG contribution of USD 15.5 million focused on the rehabilitation and development for individuals in conflict-affected areas in northern Uganda. CRD reintegrated over 4,700 formerly abducted children and ex-combatants, initiated economic development opportunities in affected areas, created peace clubs, and increased education for children affected by HIV/AIDS.

On Friday September 21, representatives from the Office of Food for Peace, Office of Transition Initiatives, Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, Africa Bureau, and the Uganda Mission met to develop an integrated USAID strategy for the transition from humanitarian assistance to sustainable development for Northern Uganda. The integrated strategy is to function as a guide and tactical planning framework to assist in coordinating development progress across USAID offices to ensure success in the peace process, the return of internally displaced people, the reintegration of former combatants and the mitigation of future conflict.

August 25 -September 7, 2007

Local northern leaders continue in their rhetoric against "non-performing" non-governmental organizations (NGOs) operating in Northern Uganda. During a dinner to celebrate the passing of the 2007/2008 budget, Gulu District Chairman Norbert Mao announced that he and the Vice Chairman of the Acholi Parliamentary Group, Reagan Okumu, would be opening "war" against poorly functioning NGOs. Mao asserted that NGOs target Gulu and other northern districts to raise funds. He argued that this insincerity leads to poor service for Ugandans. On August 24, Mao ousted the Spanish arm of Medecins San Frontiers from Gulu. He claimed that the organization provided the community of Omoro County, Gulu with outdated tuberculosis medication and unauthorized HIV/AIDS medication. WHO has investigated and found MSF to be providing treatment in line with national protocols.

UNOCHA launched the 2008 Consolidated Appeals Process (CAP) August 21-22. United Nations agencies, international and national (NGOs), donors, Government of Uganda ministries and departments, and representatives from 12 districts in the Acholi, Lango, Teso and Karamoja sub-regions participated. Humanitarian and transition priorities for 2008 include:

Education: support for the rehabilitation of schools, construction of staff quarters and return ofdisplaced schools;

Health: maintenance of health centers in camps.Increased staffing, rehabilitation of health units and construction of staff quarters and provision of health services in the parishes of return;

Water and sanitation: distribution of sanitation kits, maintenance of facilities and hygiene promotion;

Livelihoods: food aid in camps, especially for EVIs, camp rehabilitation as IDPs move out, phasing down food aid in transit camps and stepping up production, intensified livelihood diversification and expanded production;

Protection: re-establishment of rule of law; disarmament and demobilization of local defense units (LDUs); DDR of "reporters";

Community development: psychological ions,strengthening of government structures, youth employment/skills development, combating environmental degradation.

The New Vision newspaper reported that Rotary Club International will sponsor over 100 local doctors and doctors from India to treat victims of the LRA. The Indian doctors have also successfully treated patients in Tanzania, Lesotho, and Swaziland. The treatment will take place at seven hospitals in Gulu, Kitgum, Pader, Apac, Lira and Oyam districts. A conference entitled, "Access to Surgical Service" followed on August 30.

The reopening of the Coorom Primary School in Barlonyo, Lango District demonstrates the challenges ahead in return areas. The renewal of classes coincided with the influx of returning IDPs. However, Coorom like many other schools already lacks sufficient supplies, books, and teachers. Some argue that the reestablishment of such communities is premature, because GOU resources are stretched thin and can not meet the growing educational needs of returning IDPs.

USG Activities: A U.S. Department of Labor funded program, KURET, continued to help war and HIV/AIDS affected children who are vulnerable to labor exploitation. On August 28, Marjorie Lagen, Project Manager, stated that KURET's current objective was to educate and train up to 8,100 children in the north. This would remove children from exploitative labor situations. KURET currently provides students with scholarships, health and psychological counseling, and training for teachers to manage trauma affected children.

August 12 - August 24, 2007

USAID has designed a new program aimed at mitigating the causes and consequences of conflict in order to promote stability, peace and reconciliation in Uganda. The program will be entitled Stability, Peace and Reconciliation In Northern Uganda (SPRING). Building on earlier and ongoing Mission programming in the North, including the Northern Uganda Peace Initiative (NUPI) and the Community Resilience and Dialogue (CRD) program, the new program will specifically seek to reduce current conflict, prevent the escalation of social, economic and political tensions and strengthen institutions for the promotion of peace and reconciliation. To achieve this goal, SPRING will support a core set of activities in three component areas: (1) Peace-building and reconciliation; (2) Economic security and social inclusion and (3) Access to justice. SPRING will implement model activities which are scaleable, replicable, and sustainable. Activities will aim to have a lasting impact on promoting stability and consolidating peace by combining peace building efforts with economic opportunities that foster and entrench peace, while also improving access to justice for vulnerable populations.

SPRING will support the GOU's stated priority to end the conflict in northern Uganda peacefully and help establish the conditions for a transition from relief to recovery and development for the conflict-affected population in the North, as outlined in the Peace, Recovery and Development Plan for Northern Uganda (2007-2010) and the GOU's Poverty Eradication Action Plan (PEAP) (2005-2008). The proposed program will be the core activity in USAID's multi-sector effort to mitigate the causes and consequences of violent conflict in Uganda. Under the SPRING activity, USAID will make an award of up to USD 9,500,000 for a period of 36 months.

Heavy rains since July in Teso Region have damaged crops and displaced approximately 2300 to 2800 households according to Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and UN OCHA. The affected population includes persons displaced (IDPs) by the LRA and cattle raiders form Karamoja. Most affected areas are Ngariam, Magoro, Kapujan, Katakwi and Omodoi sub-counties in Katakwi District, and Abarilela, Acowa, Obalanga and Asamuk sub-counties in Amuria District. Initial reports that 33,000 people were displaced appear to be inflated; however, the total affected population might be as high as 30,000. The affected area is difficult to access, and roads have been cut off by the rains. Immediate needs are supplies to prevent cholera outbreaks, insectide treated nets to mitigate against an increase in malaria for the most affected, and plastic sheeting. UN OCHA is leading an interagency assessment. No external assistance has been requested at this time. Rains are expected to continue until late September.

IDP returns continue at a slow pace in Acholi sub-region, but the pace is expected to increase significantly in November to December when grass is widely available for thatching roofs (SEPTEL). The increase in returns is expected with or without a final peace agreement. However, it is likely that across Acholiland many IDPs will keep some presence in the camps to access services, and as a back-up plan should fighting resume. Limited access to basic services in return areas will continue to be a contributing factor to the splitting of families. Faced with tough decisions, many families choose to leave school aged children in camps with relatives to attend classes while they start to rebuild and wait for the village school to re-open.

Congresswoman Nita Lowey, six other members of congress and five congressional staffers visited Gulu on Sunday, August 19 accompanied by Ambassador Steve Browning. The CODEL observed NGO and USAID projects at the Umyama IDP Camp, received a briefing at the World Food Program warehouse in Gulu, discussed current humanitarian relief programs at a working lunch with NGO partners, and met with local government officials and religious leaders.

July 29 - August 11, 2007

USAID's Office of Food for Peace (FFP) has made an August contribution to World Food Program (WFP)/Uganda which will allow WFP to provide three-month resettlement rations to 70,000 IDPs in Pader District. Other recent FFP contributions have allowed WFP to provide resettlement rations to approximately 210,000 IDPs across northern Uganda as the IDPs return home or to transit camps that are close to their homes and allows them access to land for cultivation. This August contribution will probably be the last contribution in FY07. The total FY07 FFP contribution to date to WFP/Uganda is valued at USD 44,349,500. The United States is the largest provider of food aid to WFP/Uganda. As of the end of July, the United States provided 48 percent of WFP's resources in Uganda. Approximately one million IDPs across northern Uganda still require food aid for survival.

Economic opportunities in northern Uganda and investment confidence are returning to northern Uganda after decades of conflict. One local company, Mukwano Industries, with the support of the USAID-funded Agricultural Productivity Enhancement Program (APEP), has seized on an opportunity to source locally an alternative to imported vegetable oil. The project focuses on a hybrid variety of sunflower that produces twice the oil content per acre as the traditional variety. To date, the 34,000 participating farmers have witnessed their household income increase nearly 30 percent, with collective net earnings in the past three years of more than USD 3.7 million. There are no signs that the sunflower boom in northern Uganda will slow soon. Through collaboration with international seed suppliers, a hybrid sunflower seed will be produced in Uganda. Mukwano provides farmers a guaranteed market and price for the hybrid variety. The company is investing in a multi-million dollar oil processing plant in northern Uganda to increase production.

Jahal de Meritens, UNDP early recovery cluster expert, arrived this week in Kampala to troubleshoot planning in the early recovery sector, for which UNDP has the lead. De Meretens is a former UNOCHA officer with broad regional experience. He will study ways to improve UNDP operations in Northern Uganda and report to Geneva with recommendations. De Meretens is traveling in Uganda and has met with Embassy officers as part of his inquiries.

July 15- July 28, 2007

Efforts to improve the coordination of humanitarian assistance within Uganda are moving forward. Theophane Nikyema, United Nations Development Program Resident Representative, has been named the U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator. To further strengthen the coordination, U.N. Undersecretary for Humanitarian Affairs, John Holmes, created a new Senior Adviser position to help support, prioritize humanitarian aid, enhance system-wide coherence, and aid effectiveness through strategic and operational guidance of humanitarian and early recovery programming. The Senior Adviser will work closely with the head of OCHA, and receive support from the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Activities (UNOCHA) to carry out these responsibilities.

UNDP appointed a new Early Recovery Officer in response to heavy criticism over lack of leadership and response in the sector. In an interesting first move, UNDP offered to fill the gap in Gender-Based Violence (GBV). Currently, UNICEF is the lead for GBV, but would like to scale back its sector and coordination responsibilities to a few core areas. The change will require agreement by the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) and UN Country Team; it is not imminent.

Recruitment and retention of teachers and health workers in return areas continues to be a challenge for early recovery. Absenteeism at schools and functioning health posts in return areas is high. Increased supervision and mentoring support of staff is needed, and performance or hardship incentives could also be considered to help meet this growing gap.

July 1-14, 2007

USG Activities: CJTF HOA has received approval to build and repair several secondary schools in Pader, Lira, and Kitgum districts and a pediatric ward at Kitgum District Referral Hospital. Since October 2006, CJTF HOA has repaired 25 boreholes and is in the process of drilling an estimated 50 new ones. "Seabees", the CJTF HOA Naval Construction unit, conducted a pre-deployment site survey of Aromo bridge and culvert in Lira district. Their mission is to prevent conflict, promote stability and protect coalition within those three districts. They are successfully performing with borehole repairs, new borehole drilling, and construction and rehabilitation of schools and clinics. They hope to begin repairing the bridge in late September or early October, working with the Uganda People's Defense Force and Lira district's engineers. The project remains on schedule.

The latest monthly meeting of the Government of Uganda's Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) for the Emergency Humanitarian Action Plan for LRA-affected areas was held on June 29. The JMC continues to enhance accountability and communications between the central government, local authorities, and development partners. The JMC has been extended for an additional three months until end- September. During the extension, the primary focus will be on strengthened security through the continued deployment of police, and security and emergency roads. It was noted that even after JMC ends, the needs for humanitarian assistance will continue. Also, an alternative monitoring mechanism will be put in place for the Peace, Recovery and Development Plan (PRDP) to deal with humanitarian, transition, recovery and development efforts in northern Uganda.

June 17-June 30, 2007

The distribution of bad seeds is a hot political issue, but unlikely to impact food security negatively. Germination rates of peanut and maize seed distributed to IDPs in the Acholi and Lango regions during the April to May planting season were low, well below the normal rate of 80 percent for these two crops. The Government of Uganda (GOU) Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) has been blamed in the press for distributing poor quality seeds and tools but OPM asserts the fault lies with local government in the north from overlong storage. A political tit-for-tat has ensued.

The political bickering masks the real problem, which is a weak seed certification system exacerbated by increased demand for seed in northern Uganda and southern Sudan. A disjoined and fledgling resettlement package system also has contributed to problems for returnees. Several NGOs have requested replacement seeds and were redistributing. However, for the larger distributions, it has been more difficult to trace the seeds back to the distributor. Despite the noise over failed seed, FAO expects the overall impact on food security to be low. Initial results of post-distribution surveys by FAO show humanitarian distribution of seed make up only 30 to 40 percent of the seeds planted. Peanuts and maize were only a small portion of this 30-40 percent.

Germination tests by FAO for the July to August planting season show normal results (80 percent or greater) for all crops except peanuts. Seed fairs, which use a voucher system to enable IDPs to purchase seed of their choice from local sellers, were not adversely affected. Peanuts were the most popular crop at seed fairs, and post harvest surveys show good results. USAID/OFDA provided $3.2 million to support seed distributions and fairs in FY 2007.

USG Activities: USAID officially opened its new office in Gulu to much fanfare on Thursday, June 21st. More than 450 guests were in attendance and had the opportunity to visit 15 open houses of partner organizations in Gulu and view 33 displays by the USG and its partners. In addition to Ambassador Browning, numerous government ministers attended, including the Minister of Health, Minister of State for Environment, Minister of State for Relief and Disaster Preparedness, Minister of State for Defense, Minister of State for Primary Education and the Minister of Ethics and Integrity. The ministers toured sites with the Ambassador and USAID Mission Director. GOU officials recognized the contributions and support of the U.S. Government for the people of northern Uganda. This sentiment was echoed by local government officials, traditional and religious leaders, and members of Parliament.

USAID announced the award of a $5.8 million program to strengthen democratic linkages within and among the Ugandan Parliament and selected local governments, including four northern districts, and civil society groups. The goal of the program is to build the capacity of these institutions to more effectively identify and carry out their representational functions in the newly reinstated multi-party system; to increase democratic participation in political processes; to improve institutional transparency and accountability; and ultimately to increase and improve essential service delivery to constituents. The program is a 42-month program and the award was made to the Center for International Development at The State University of New York (SUNY).

June 3-16, 2007

The U.N. Inter Agency Standing Committee Working Group in Uganda published return numbers as of May 2007. (Reftel) According to the study, 53 percent of the estimated original displaced camp population in Pader District had moved from the camps to new sites closer to their places of origin. District Chairman Peter Odok W'Oceng called on the Government to increase the numbers of teachers and classrooms to accommodate the movement of the population out of camps to or near their homes. He requested that the Ministry of Education increase the numbers of teachers in Pader district by 1,630 because the teacher-student ratio was now 1 teacher for 91 students and he would like to cut this down to 1 to 45. He also requested 3,066 classrooms to accommodate 161,000 pupils.

The results of a nutritional and retrospective mortality survey in Lira, Apac, Oyam, Gulu, and Amuru Districts conducted by UNICEF, Action Against Hunger, and the Disaster Management Committees in March/April were released in May. Seventy-nine percent of persons in Lira District moved directly to their home villages. In Apac and Oyam, 64 percent of IDPs moved back to their villages. The survey indicated that access to health, food security, and water and sanitation is much lower in Apac and Oyam than other districts. Returnees in Lira have moved to places far from access to food support and nutritional centers. Although land access had increased, food stocks were still at low levels and NGOs were concerned that this could lead to an important increase in malnutrition rates. Food stocks are also low in Gulu and Amuru.

Norbert Mao, Gulu District Chairperson, has accused the government of providing IDPs with sterile seeds in their resettlement packages. Mao said that Tarsis Kabwegyere, Minister of Relief and Disaster Preparedness, should take full responsibility since his organization distributed the defective seeds. "We are not making wild allegations to frustrate government program. We have tested the seeds and found out they just do not germinate ... contrary to what Chairman Anthony Atube, Amuru LC5, reported." Mao added that the sorghum seeds were meant for brewing beer and after conducting more tests, results showed the maize seeds were infested with weevils. In response, the Government announced that it was sending a team of technical experts from the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO) and the Office of the Prime Minister, to investigate what was wrong with the seeds. In exchange for the bad seeds, the government delivered packages of millet, sorghum, maize, groundnut, hoes and axes to the IDPs.

The Northern Uganda Public Expenditure Review sets out the financial challenges in implementing northern Uganda reconstruction and return. The review was conducted from October to December 2006 to enhance understanding of levels and modalities of resources going to northern Uganda, including West Nile and Karamoja. It concluded that in terms of resource flows, the wider north has not been neglected and that funds provided are being utilized by the districts and not returned to the Treasury, as had been alleged. When compared on a per capita level, the total central government transfers to northern Uganda were equal to the national average for other regions. Resources to northern Uganda had increased by an average of 18 percent per year since 2003/4, of which resources from donors and UN agencies had grown fastest. In 2006, the total resources going to northern Uganda were 1 trillion Uganda shillings or 4.3 percent of GDP.

USG Activities: USAID's program funding for northern Uganda is expected to total $106.3 million in FY07. This compares with $87.9 million in FY06 and $77.9 million in FY05. Importantly, the developmental portion of the budget (excluding emergency food and non-food aid) has grown in nominal terms from $18.4 million in FY05 to $29.4 million in FY06 and to $51.2 million in FY07. Similarly, the portion of USAID's northern Uganda resources that are developmental in nature has grown from 24 percent in FY05 to 33 percent in FY06 to 48% currently.

Food for Peace has approved a June contribution to WFP/Uganda valued at $5.6 million, bringing the FY07 total FFP contribution to $43.1 million. The June contribution was designed to allow WFP to provide three-month resettlement rations to the remaining 73,000 in the Lango sub-region, Lira District, still on general food distributions, and for 130,000 IDPs in Gulu District of the Acholi sub-region. The latter are the first IDPs in the Acholi sub-region deemed ready for the resettlement rations. WFP hopes to be able to award these resettlement rations within the next two to four months. These three-month resettlement rations mark an informal "milepost of sorts," in that they will signify the end of general relief food distribution in the Lango sub-region, and the beginning of the resettlement ration process in the Acholi sub-region. There are approximately 1,094,000 IDPs in the Acholi sub-region on general relief food rations.

Twenty partners attended the first Northern Uganda Partners Meeting in Gulu on Friday June 1, hosted by the U.S. Mission's Northern Uganda Advisor. Discussion focused on how USAID can help improve coordination at the district and national levels with USAID programs and with CJTF-HOA. Feedback on how USAID can improve its coordinating role included: play a "policing" role with both UN and NGOs to improve participation and effectiveness of coordination meetings; hold informal gatherings at district level to share information and ideas; hold partner meetings quarterly; provide summary documents on USAID programs and a simple matrix on who is working in the north; provide information on best practices in service delivery; help set direction; and provide written feedback on monitoring and assessment trips.

May 18-June 2, 2007

In Lira District, there was a fairly high degree of movement from Abia, Aliwang and Adwari where there are now less then 1,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the three camps. Many IDPs were maintaining some minimal contact with their huts in the camp although they do not stay there permanently. For example, 80 percent of the huts in these three camps were locked with no sign of residents around, but clearly not abandoned. Over the past month there has been increased movement of IDPs originating from Pader District moving from southern Lira into camps in northern Lira (closer to Pader). IDPs in these did not report land access as a problem. More than 80 percent of the IDPS still living in the camps are accessing their original land for cultivation.

In Acholi districts, there were no significant changes in the pattern of movement. The majority of IDPs moving out of the camps were settling in new sites. Approximately 50,000 IDPs moved to transit sites in April, increasing the number of IDPs in transit from 271,000 to 321,000. There was some evidence that the number of IDPs moving back to their homes is increasing from approximately 1 percent in March to roughly 5 percent in May. (Complete numbers for May are not yet available.) Similar to the situation in Lango, approximately 80 percent of the population was accessing land for cultivation. Land under cultivation also continues to increase. In Gulu and Amuru districts the amount of land under cultivation per household was up from 3 acres in June 2006 to 4.4 acres in May 2007.

IDPs continue to cite lack of safe water sources, lack of grass for thatching (next season for dry grass is October), fear to return before peace agreement is signed, lack of farm implements and tools, and fear of unexploded ordnance at return sites as factors hindering returns.

Coordination and U.N. cluster management issues continue. Overwhelmed by its cluster coordination responsibilities, UNICEF tried to pass responsibility for Gender-Based Violence (GBV) to U.N. Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) with two weeks notice. UNFPA is barely operational. UNFPA might be a good place for GBV to be covered in the long run, but currently, UNFPA does not have the capacity to take a leadership role. UNICEF agreed to continue in its coordination role until a better solution was found. The other alternative is UNHCR, but it has its hands full, and has only just begun addressing camp management in an organized manner.

UNHCR began rolling out the new camp management guidelines in northern Uganda. Emphasis is being placed on using the camp management coordination structure to begin planning for camp closure. This should help facilitate the shift away from camp leadership to the Local Councilor (LC) system. Currently, these two tracks run in parallel. Only Lango has a clear process for degazzetting camps, but over the past week Pader District officials began drafting procedures for camp closure. UNHCR plans to extend the process underway in Pader to other districts in Acholiland.

Land continues to be a key protection issue. While land disputes were not inhibiting IDP returns, there is no functioning legal structure to handle disputes. Without legal guidelines or remedies, the potential for the further marginalization of vulnerable groups, such as female-headed households and child mothers continues to exist. Districts are exploring ways to tackle this matter, but often vulnerable groups are not included in the discussion.

May 1-May 17, 2007

UNHCR released statistics on population movement in northern Uganda for March. In the Acholi sub-region (Amuru, Gulu, Kitgum, and Pader districts) only one percent of the population has returned to their villages of origin, far lower than expected. Twenty-four percent are believed to be in decongestion sites or transit camps. Nonetheless, UNHCR estimates that 80 percent of the internally-displaced persons (IDPs) are accessing up to four acres of land.

In contrast, returns in non-Acholi districts are higher. In Lango District, 76 percent of IDPs have returned to their villages of origin and 24 percent remain in camps. The numbers of IDPs in transit in Lango are negligible. Humanitarian organizations say that those IDPs remaining in camps in Lango are likely to remain permanently in towns and trading centers. Sanitation in remaining camps is deteriorating now that humanitarian organizations are no longer overseeing services or maintaining garbage pits. USAID/OFDA Northern Uganda Advisor states that the transition of the camps could provide an opportunity to increase the capacity of local governments in planning and delivery of services at the sub-county level.

The GOU and UNDP/Mine Action are addressing complaints raised by de-miners who recently stopped working. Salaries for the de-miners will be increased; district hospitals have agreed to treat injured de-miners and medics will be deployed with each team. The de-miners also want an ambulance deployed with each team and have requested a higher level of training. The training options are being explored in Kenya. The GOU and UNDP/Mine Action report that there are more sites than expected, including large weapons caches that require higher-level explosive ordnance disposal for which the de-miners are not trained.

P/E Chief and Democracy and Governance Advisor attended a briefing in Kampala by John Holmes, the new U.N. Under-Secretary for Humanitarian Affairs on May 16. This was Holmes' first visit to Uganda. President Museveni emphasized the importance of putting "an end to impunity" with regard to the LRA. The Prime Minister's office emphasized the importance of moving from relief to development.

April 7-April 30, 2007

Two hundred landmines and unexploded ordnance were destroyed in Gulu and Amuru districts over the past two months, according to the National Mine Action program team. The presence of landmines and unexploded ordnance has hindered resettlement of internally-displaced persons in some areas. The team is clearing areas near satellite camps, trading and health centers, and schools.

USAID's Peace Support Team Advisor attended the Joint Monitoring Commission meeting on April 27. Regarding the issue of a Humanitarian Coordinator, Ugandan Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa told participants that the emergency phase of operations in northern Uganda was winding down and that Uganda was working in line with the UN reform program. At this point, there was no need for a humanitarian coordinator, according to the Foreign Minister.

CARE International commissioned two USAID-funded motorized water systems on April 19 and announced it would be drilling 15 boreholes and rehabilitating 30 more, and constructing 27 latrines in selected schools.

March 24-April 6, 2007

The Northern Uganda Advisor reported that in Lira District, over 250,000 internally-displaced persons have returned voluntarily to their home areas. It is estimated that 96,702 IDPs have remained in 13 camps. The District Management Committee is de-gazetting camps. Many of the camps were trading centers, which means that IDPs are being encouraged to destroy their huts and fill latrines as they depart. UNHCR notes that the process has been uneven, with some NGOs providing incentives, such as soap, to those IDPs that properly clean up their areas as they depart. Some land owners are beginning to pressure the IDPs to move out of the camps and off their land.

In Gulu District, UNHCR reports that approximately 4,400 IDPs returned directly to their homes. The majority of IDPs are moving to land access sites. Over the past two months, the movement out of the camps has slowed due to fears about the peace process, rumors of LRA sightings in Sudan, and lack of services in the return areas. Lack of consistent messages from local officials in Kitgum remains a problem.

There has been a limited reaction to the cuts in World Food Program (WFP) rations and the cut back in resettlement distributions from three months to one month. The Northern Uganda Advisor reports that the primary concern is to avoid an abrupt cut-off in distributions.

The Joint Monitoring Commission (JMC) on March 30, Minister of State for Relief and Disaster Preparedness Musa Ecweru, announced that the Government would assess the performance of non-governmental organizations in northern Uganda and suspend the operational licenses of those that were not performing tasks related to their stated objectives. Ecweru alleged that few of the registered 600 NGOs would have their licenses renewed because "they have moved away from their original work objectives, with no work done on the ground". Ecweru complained that NGO employees were staying at "expensive hotels at the expense of the suffering people" and that they could be found "swimming and boozing, ignoring work, yet at the end of the day, they claim money from the donors." He stated that the Government would not accept the NGOs playing with donor funds. World Vision, Save the Children, and the International Committee of the Red Cross were praised for their activities.

USG Activities: The HELP (Helping to Enhance the Livelihood of People Around the Globe) Commission, a bipartisan commission appointed by Congress and the President, chaired by Mary K. Bush, visited Uganda from March 26 – 28. Their mandate is to deliver actionable proposals to the President, Secretary of State, and Congress to enhance and leverage the efficiency and effectiveness of U.S. foreign assistance to reduce poverty through sustained economic growth. Their report, to be delivered no later than December 2007, is to recommend changes in structures, mechanisms and incentives to improve foreign assistance outcomes affected by 20 federal agencies conducting foreign assistance programs.

In Uganda, the team members traveled from the eastern border with Kenya to Kampala and then up to Lira in northern Uganda. The Commission was afforded the opportunity to visit USAID, CDC, and CJTF-HOA project sites, discuss the MCC Threshold Country Program with the Ministry of Finance, meet Parliamentarians and be sensitized to the impact of numerous Presidential initiatives in Uganda implemented through local (including faith-based organizations), as well as US implementing partners.

WFP has 600 acres of improved cassava ready for distribution through a USAID/OFDA-funded project.

USAID/EGAT team working with the National Water and Sewage Corporation (NWSC) visited the municipal reservoir and treatment plant, motorized boreholes, and hand pumps in IDP camps in the north.

March 10-23, 2007

On March 9, the Government of Uganda issued a second draft Peace, Recovery and Development Plan (PRDP) for Northern Uganda, for consultations with stakeholders and development partners. The overall goal of the three-year PRDP is to consolidate peace and security and lay the foundation for recovery and development. This is to be achieved through four strategic objectives: (1) consolidation of state authority (peace, security, justice, law and order, strengthened local governance); (2) rebuilding and empowering communities (return and reintegration of IDPs, community rehabilitation and development, protection of the vulnerable); (3) revitalization of the economy (production and marketing, services and industry, rehabilitation of critical infrastructure, sustainable environmental and natural resource management); and (4) peace-building and reconciliation (information, counseling, intra/inter-communal and national conflict resolution, socioeconomic reintegration of ex-combatants). The estimated cost of the plan is $539 million or $65 per person over a three-year period. The original PRDP request was for approximately $350 million.

Problems with the food pipeline for northern Uganda caused World Food Program (WFP) to announce cuts in rations for IDPs and refugees. WFP is cutting ration sizes to 40 percent of kilocalorie (kcal) needs for 1.2 million IDPs in northern Uganda, as well as 183,000 refugees in various locations throughout northern and western Uganda. Currently, approximately 15 percent of the IDPs are already at 40 percent kcal ration, with the remaining at 50 or 60 percent kcal ration. Additionally, WFP reports that there are not enough resources to continue with school lunches for 600,000 students across the LRA affected areas, refugee camps, and in drought stricken Karamoja. Drought relief for 500,000 people in Karamoja was slower than anticipated due to IDP resettlement patterns in northern Uganda and a reduction in overall contributions to WFP/Uganda, which led to the food aid cuts. The level of USG contributions to WFP/Uganda in dollar value was virtually unchanged from last fiscal year at this time: March 2006 ($28 million) and March 2007 ($27.4 million).

Even with the cuts in ration size and school feeding, the most recent WFP projections show the pipeline breaking in May absent significant contributions. WFP states that potential consequences of the cuts include worsening nutritional status especially for children, women, and the elderly, as well as the potential for the adoption of risky coping mechanisms by the IDPs. USAID believes that the cuts could affect resettlement efforts because WFP does not have sufficient stocks to provide 3-month resettlement or repatriation packages to IDPs or refugees, respectively. WFP was unable to fulfill a GOU request to WFP to provide resettlement packages to 130,000 IDPs in Gulu District. The three-month food aid resettlement packages are viewed as critical for resettling IDP households as they return to their home or to smaller camps closer to their agricultural lands.

USG Activities: The USAID Mission Director signed an MOU with the Governor of the Bank of Uganda on March 14 to formalize the opening of a USAID satellite office in Gulu, housed in the Regional Office of the Bank of Uganda.

February 27-March 9, 2007

USG Activities: USAID's Office of Food for Peace made a $10 million food aid contribution to World Food Program/Uganda. To date in FY07, FFP has contributed USD 27.4 million for food aid to WFP, targeting the IDPs, refugees, and those affected by drought in Karamoja.

From March 2-5, the Mission hosted a six-person USG delegation led by David McCormick, Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs and Dina Powell, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs. The delegation traveled to both Gulu and Kitgum in northern Uganda to see the impact of U.S.-funded humanitarian and development assistance projects, as well as meet Ugandan alumni of USG exchange programs. During their visit to the North, McCormick and Powell observed a World Food Program food distribution at Ongaku IDP camp, and toured Gulu's Lacor hospital to look at the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and Presidential Malarial Initiative programs.

The delegation also met with night commuters at a USAID funded shelter and former LRA combatants at a World Vision rehabilitation center. (The number of clients at both facilities is markedly lower than during the heights of the LRA insurgency.) The delegation also met with representatives of numerous non-governmental organizations working in northern Uganda, including the Invisible Children organization. In Kitgum, the delegation visited the USAID-Dunavant public-private partnership project which is supporting cotton cultivation, processing and marketing in northern Uganda. In Kitgum district, some 2,900 families have organized themselves into cotton "producer organizations."

On March 6, Ambassador Browning and Deputy USAID Director Elzadia Washington briefed Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials on the new USAID/OFDA office in Gulu. Ambassador James Mugume, the Acting Permanent Secretary, expressed the Government's appreciation for the establishment of a U.S. presence to work on development activities in northern Uganda.

February 10-26, 2007

Local government officials have requested that all humanitarian assistance organizations submit budgets for incorporation into the overall district plans to enhance coordination, effective reconstruction, and targeting of funds. District officials say that they cannot operate properly in the presence of a "parallel government." In Gulu District, over 140 NGOs have complied. To ensure proper exchange of information and coordination by the Prime Minister's office, the Minister for Disaster Preparedness and Refugees has asked all major humanitarian donors to report on agencies, by what kind of assistance in which districts, and has asked the districts to report in detail down to sub-county level.

A key challenge for humanitarian organizations is to sustain existing services, at the same time they rehabilitate where populations movements are occurring.

USG Activities: USAID's health team spent a week in Gulu coordinating the Northern Uganda Malaria, AIDS, and TB (NUMAT) project with partners. The program will assist in the delivery of services to IDPs and returnees. The team also visited other USG-funded projects that provide assistance to caregivers for orphans and vulnerable children, a day care center for young mothers returning from conflict areas, and youth HIV/AIDS prevention programs.

USAID's Democracy and Governance team leader visited Oyam District to monitor progress on the Strengthening Decentralization in Uganda Program from February 12-13. The new district's leaders are not waiting for donors to help resettle the 140,000 (out of 250,000) residents living in IDP camps. The local government has cultivated cassava plans to distribute to returning families along with basic tools. The district officials also plan to give vouchers to individuals who help rebuild area roads. The vouchers could be used to obtain oxen and plows. The district plans to invest heavily in infrastructure repair to help farmers get crops to markets. With their limited resources, districts will be able to meet but a limited number of returnees' needs.

January 27-February 9, 2007

The Minister of Disaster Preparedness traveled to northern Uganda on February 1 and said that he would like to see as many IDPs return as soon as possible to their land. At the same time, the Resident District Commissioner has only approved 33 areas safe for return. Coordination problems among donors persist, resulting in a failure by some implementers to understand the dynamics of population movements in some areas of the north.

Humanitarian organizations were reporting that population movements in the north continue unrestricted with the exception of Kitgum District.

USG Activities: Ambassador Browning launched USAID's Global Development Alliance with Coca-Cola on January 23. The $500,000 private-public partnership, The Northern Uganda Watersprings Initiative, will improve access to potable water for returning communities.

USAID's Deputy Director launched the private-public GDA with Dunavant, the largest cotton purchaser in the world, on January 30. The $550,000 project is opening up 12,000 acres of land for 12,000 internally-displaced persons for cotton and subsistence farming.

USAID/OFDA approved $1.3 million for the Food and Agricultural Organization to purchase and distribute tools and seeds. The tools are needed to get land cleared for the March planting season.

Office of Food for Peace approved a contribution for World Food Program Uganda's protracted Relief and Recovery Operation of $4.4 million for Fiscal Year 2007. To date, Food for Peace has contributed 22,850 metric tons of emergency food aid to WFP Uganda at a value of $17 million.

An USAID/OFDA technical assistance team traveled to Kitgum, Pader, and Gulu to study water, sanitation, and food security issues to determine FY07 funding for these sectors. The team also met with the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa civil affairs teams, the Minister of State for Water Resources, and various non-government organizations and district officials. Some of the team's recommendations included: continued flexibility in OFDA's response to the northern Uganda situation; more emphasis on sustainable hand-dug wells; protection of water sources; rehabilitation of hand-pumps; hygiene promotion; public-private partnerships to enhance sustainability of motorized pump systems; and the provision of tools and seeds to returnees.

January 13-26, 2007

USAID-OFDA's Gulu Program Officer reports that the upward trend of IDP movement from established camps to new sites located toward homes of origin continued. UNOCHA and UNHCR Gulu agree on a conservative estimate of 400,000 IDPs "on the move" in various stages of return throughout Acholiland. An estimated 84 new sites now exist in Gulu and Amuru districts. UNHCR reports that for the first time in Gulu district, small groups of IDPs are returning to their actual homes and not just to their parishes of origin. UNHCR also reports that recent setbacks regarding the peace talks may mean that fewer IDPs will be moving to new sites until there is some resolution. UNHCR also states that very few movements back into the main IDP camps have been observed.

USG Activities: From January 17-19, Ambassador Browning traveled to Lira and Gulu to visit CTJF-HOA's civil affairs team projects, which include 21 boreholes and with non-governmental organizations regarding the U.S. military presence there.

USAID/OFDA recently approved 1.3 million dollars for the Food and Agricultural Organization to purchase and distribute tools and seeds throughout the sub-region. Tools are especially needed as IDPs continue the process of clearing land prior to the start of the March planting season.

December 23, 2006-January 12, 2007

World Food Program announced that it will provide its final three-month ration to internally-displaced persons (IDPs) in 20 of 48 official camps in Gulu on February 1. The improved security and access to land has led to increased local production and an excellent harvest, according to the Food and Agricultural Organization. The move is aimed at facilitating the return process and assisting IDPs as they prepare for planting in March. Monthly support to vulnerable children, HIV-infected, and elderly will continue. FAO also reported that returning families have an average of four acres of land to plant versus less than one acre a year ago. The growing market for food commodities in southern Sudan also is encouraging IDPs to grow additional crops. On the flip-side, Gulu District Chairman Norbert Mao said that prices for household items and food doubled in Gulu because marketers could obtain higher prices for goods in southern Sudan.

USAID OFDA program officer noted that the roads were busy and people were working the fields during a recent visit to Oyam area. Home construction is on the rise with signs of brick-making and storage of dry grass. UNOCHA also acknowledged the increased activity, but noted that the IDPs continue to hedge their bets in the absence of a signed peace agreement. UNOCHA encouraged donors to focus efforts in areas of return. Meanwhile, the Minister of State for Disaster Preparedness was deployed to LRA-affected districts on January 13 to get an accurate count of the numbers of IDPs that have returned to or near their land.

December 9-22, 2006

Returns of internally-displaced persons to parishes of origin are progressing, according to a December 14 UNHCR assessment of population movements. There is "freedom of movement" in 17 of 19 sub-counties in Gulu and Amuru Districts. Radio announcements were made by the Ugandan military and the Resident District Commissioner outlining the return process. UNHCR estimated that over one quarter of the IDPs were re-establishing themselves in their parishes of origin "to some degree."

Lira District has been declared safe for all returns and ninety percent of the IDPs are accessing land. Fifty percent of the IDPs have left the camps in Lira as of October 2006. Movement in Pader is complicated by lack of information and clashes between the military and Karamojong in the eastern part of the district. Humanitarian organizations expect this movement to increase in January 2007 once harvests are completed and prior to the start of the new school year. At this time, there will be more dry grass available for hut construction, and WFP changes its food distributions.

USG Activities: USAID's Conflict Mitigation Advisor attended the Joint Monitoring Committee meeting on December 15. The main agenda item was the issuance of a statement on returns. After a lengthy debate, it was decided that it was premature for the Government to allow complete freedom of movement in the conflict-affected areas and that districts have the responsibility to declare areas safe for return. There will be no restrictions in districts already declared safe. Another important issue raised was the Ministry of Finance's slow release of funding for the Humanitarian Emergency Action Plan. The Prime Minister said it was unacceptable that only 4.9 billion Ugandan shillings out of a total of 18.6 billion had been released. He reminded the Finance Ministry that the plan was due to be completed by March 31. He instructed the Ministry to attend all JMC meetings.

Admiral Hunt, the Commander of the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, visited Uganda from December 21-22. On December 21, he discussed the ongoing civil affairs operation in northern Uganda with the senior leadership of the Ugandan Peoples' Defense Forces (UPDF). Currently, the CTJF-HOA team has rehabilitated 11 boreholes in Lira District. Planned projects for Kitgum include a reading center for children, girls' dormitories, and renovation of a children's wing at the district hospital.

November 25-December 8,2006

Government officials and non-governmental organizations began developing coordinated messages for internally-displaced persons about return to their lands. In Lira, a three-month resettlement ration was distributed to 185,000 displaced persons. These IDPs have been phased out of monthly food distributions.

Medicines Sans Frontiers Switzerland announced that it will close the Lacor Child Centre in Gulu District on December 15, after two years of operation, due to declining numbers of night commuters.

Humanitarian organizations reported an improvement in civilian-military relations following a series of trainings for Ugandan military personnel in Gulu and Amuru Districts. In addition, ACORD trained Ugandan soldiers based in Lagoro and Omiya Anyima IDP camps on human rights and international legal instruments. Thirty Ugandan military officers in Lira also received human rights training and were sensitized on land tenure issues alongside civilian counterparts.

USG Activities: USAID awarded a $76 million five-year program to ACDI/VOCA, Africare, Lutheran World Federation, the AIDS Support Organization (TASO) and several local partners, including Hunger Alert. The program targets Acholi, Lango, and Teso and includes agricultural grants to local non-governmental organizations working on agriculture, HIV/AIDS, food security, and rural feeder roads rehabilitation.

The USAID OTI-OFDA team noted that seventy percent of northern Uganda's population was under age 25 and that many do not have previous agricultural experience. As a result, the provision of agricultural extension to the returning IDPs will be necessary. Other key findings included: widespread confusion among IDPs regarding return policy; concern over land issues; and a desire by northerners to have more participation in the peace process. The team's recommendations included focusing more assistance for agriculture including tools and seeds for returnees; water and sanitation in parishes of origin; and the development of a clear population movement message.

A U.S. military Civil Affairs team consisting of 11 personnel from Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) continued working with the Ugandan military and local non-governmental organizations in Lira District. The team also is coordinating closely with local government officials. To date, six boreholes have been rehabilitated. Planning is underway to expand the team's area of operations and scope of work.

November 11-24, 2006

U.N. Undersecretary General for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland made his last visit to Uganda on November 13 to discuss the peace process and northern Uganda with President Museveni. He said that his meeting with LRA leaders Kony and Otti on November 12 was an important confidence-building measure. Egeland was unable to secure the release of women and children with the LRA, which Kony refused to acknowledge holding. Kony said the LRA only had "combatants." Egeland also outlined plans to supply water and food in the assembly areas.

The Government continues to clarify its position on the return of internally-displaced persons to their homes. GOU officials have backed away from the Minister of Disaster Preparedness's December 31 deadline for IDPs to leave the camps. The GOU stated that all IDP returns are completely voluntary. On November 14, local elected and military officials and UNHCR announced that IDPs were free to move out of camps in 17 of 19 sub-counties in Gulu. The two northern sub-counties are close enough to Sudan to remain a security concern. The GOU has deployed thirteen resettlement officers in Gulu, Amuru, Kitgum, and Pader. Their mandate is to work with district leaders to ensure the GOU's Emergency Humanitarian Action Plan is successful.

Many IDPs will delay returning to their homes of origin unless there are repeated clear messages that they will not receive a comprehensive return package, according to humanitarian agencies. USAID Northern Uganda program officer's interactions with IDPs indicated that many IDPs still fear the LRA and were waiting for a peace deal to be signed before leaving the camps.

Kony urged IDPs to go home during an interview on November 16 on Gulu-based Radio Mega FM. He stated "Now I want to tell you so clearly that you civilians starting from now onwards, you people who are not at your homes in Gulu, Kitgum, Pader, Lira, and parts of Soroti, on the side of the LRA, you are free even now if you know your real villages, get up and go now."

USG Activities: The leader of USAID's Conflict Migitation Team participated in the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) meeting on November 17 which covered the return of IDPs, land for development, and the Juba Peace Process. The JMC decided to extend its completion timeline for the Humanitarian Emergency Action Plan from December 31 to March 31 because implementation had been slow and the funds were not fully released. The could take pressure off the December 31 deadline for IDP return. Local district officials will update the JMC in writing on a monthly basis on the numbers of IDPs remaining in the camps. The UN, Canada, and European donors would fund de-mining education and training for the Ugandan military. Land issues in Acholiland remain controversial. Many Acholi believe that the GOU is "secretly" allocating land to developers.

Africa Bureau Senior Deputy AID Administrator, Walter North, visited Uganda from November 16-19. He participated in two roundtable discussions on northern Uganda, Karamoja, and democracy and governance issues with GOU officials, parliamentarians, and members of civil society.

USAID launched a public-private partnership with U.S. cotton merchandiser, Dunavant. This program will expand agricultural productivity and improve the livelihoods of 12,000 farmers in conflict-affected areas of northern Uganda. Farmers in Lira, Kitgum, Gulu, and Pader Districts will receive agricultural inputs and training to increase cotton and food crop production over a three-year period.

USAID/OFDA funded two motorized boreholes in Dino and Keyo camps, bringing to a total of nine motorized boreholes completed in Gulu camps by partners Catholic Relief Services and CARE. Another ten solar-powered boreholes will come on line in Kitgum and Pader. The boreholes are strategically placed to service camp residents and local populations after the IDPs leave. USAID/OFDA partners completed the construction of 249 latrines and hand pump boreholes in Pader and Lira.

October 28-November 10, 2006

During a recent trip through northern Uganda, Prime Minister Apolo Nsibambi and Minister for Disaster Relief and Preparedness Tarsis Kabewgyere created a stir by announcing that the GOU would dismantle the IDP camps by December 31. The GOU has since clarified that movement out of the camps will be strictly "voluntary." On November 8, Minister of State for Defense Nankabirwa said that the GOU position is that until a peace deal is signed at Juba, returns are voluntary, and that the UPDF will make necessary security arrangements for the returnees.

USG Activities: Two USAID land tenure specialists traveled in Uganda and held meetings in Kampala for two weeks to assess potential disputes, flash points, and opportunities associated with resettlement, land and property rights after 5 years of internal displacement. Chief among their observations: (a) there will be ever-increasing local conflicts and disputes over land access, ownership, sale and rights as the Acholi customary land tenure system comes up against statutory land management systems; (b) these disputes have the potential to overwhelm traditional and legal systems to adjudicate them in a timely manner; (c) in particular, vulnerable populations will encounter significant problems in accessing land and securing livelihood opportunities. This will affect, in particular, women, youth, the elderly, and child-headed households; (d) land grabbing and/or land speculation from outside Acholiland has the very real potential to alienate the Acholi people and could lead to violent conflicts; (e) both traditional and statutory systems of land administration are regarded with tremendous skepticism by IDPs. There is little confidence or incentive to participate in contemporary land registration schemes and land markets. Modernity and tradition are colliding as generations struggle to bring customary land tenure into the market economy.

With emerging peace prospects in northern Uganda, the results of this preliminary assessment are being used to examine ways in which USAID can support the resettlement of IDPs. A number of opportunities present themselves for a multi-sectoral approach to support transitional development focused on good governance, health, sustainable agricultural development and natural resources management in northern Uganda.

At a World Food Day event in Kitgum, farmers displayed the cotton they had grown with the support of a USAID-funded project that provided secure access to 300 acres of land, training, agricultural inputs, and pricing guarantees to encourage agricultural development and economic recovery in the north.

October 14-27, 2006

Internally-displaced persons (IDPs) continue to return to or close to their lands. The movement continues to be motivated by the improved security environment, desire to have access to their lands, and a "fatigue factor" from living in crowded IDP camps. The Government's message on returns is still unclear in many areas, such as Kitgum. Senior government leaders, including President Museveni and the Prime Minister, will be traveling to the north during the next week to explain government efforts on northern recovery.

USG Activities: Staffdel Elder visited Uganda from October 16-19 and visited Amuru IDP camp, WFP, and several USAID Food for Peace programs. The Head of OFDA's Regional Office Jack Myer and Regional Coordinator Al Dwyer visited the Acholi districts to assess the progress of IDP returns and the performance of OFDA's humanitarian activities. Their findings will also be summarized in the next issue of NUN.

UNHCR donors, including Mark Storella from U.S. Mission Geneva, participated in an assessment mission on efforts to assist the 172,310 Sudanese refugees and 1.4 million IDPs in northern Uganda. The group met with GOU officials, NGOs, World Bank, and diplomatic missions in Kampala and visited IDP and refugee camps in northern Uganda. The recent attacks in southern Sudan have caused U.N. agencies to temporarily suspend all repatriation efforts.

October 1-15, 2006

World Food Progam (WFP) is revalidating the numbers of internally-displaced persons in the north. The survey will likely reveal a substantial increase over the 2005 head-count. One explanation is that high numbers of displaced Acholi moved outside of northern Uganda and are now returning to the region to become eligible for possible return and resettlement packages. A preliminary estimate indicates that the number of new registrations is 148,000, an increase of 40 percent in the Pader IDP population.

Humanitarian organizations are planning for a large influx of women and children if a peace deal is reached in Juba. UNICEF estimates that there could be as many as 2,000 women and children currently with the LRA that could return.

USG Activities: Seventy percent of USAID/OFDA's $12 million funding is for water, sanitation, and hygiene promotion activities. Potable water was determined to be the greatest need in northern Uganda by the UN Protection cluster in Kampala.

September 16-30, 2006

Internally-displaced persons (IDPs) are ready to leave the poor camp conditions and return to their lands. Kampala's embassy Refugee Coordinator found that many IDPs have already left the camps, but no one organization is monitoring the movements closely enough to produce accurate statistics on their numbers or destinations. UNHCR is pressing local governments to offer movement options to IDPs which include staying where they are, resettling in a third or familiar place nearby, or returning to their lands. A key problem remains security and the Ugandan military is reluctant to allow returns to areas without significant protection.

A survey conducted by OFDA partner AVSI identified 1,387 incidents primarily near established IDP sites involving unexploded ordnance (UXO) and landmines in which 57 percent resulted in injuries and 38 percent caused death. Anti-personnel mines were responsible for 61 percent of the incidents. Landmines and UXOs are a growing concern, especially as IDPs increasingly move to new sites located outside previously secured areas.

The numbers of night commuters in Kitgum and Gulu continue to decline. UNOCHA announced that night commuter shelters with less than 100 children will be closed.

USG Activities: On September 20, Ambassador Browning and a combined Embassy/USAID team traveled to Kitgum to discuss current humanitarian and security issues with local officials, displaced persons, and non-governmental organizations. Kampala-based refugee coordinator visited IDP camps, met with donors, UN agencies, and non-governmental organizations, and local government officials during a trip to northern Uganda from September 18-21. Two mechanized boreholes funded by OFDA through Catholic Relief Services (CRS) were commissioned in Coope and Patiko IDP camps in Gulu District and were praised by local government officials who expressed gratitude to the American people for their donation. These pumps tripled the amount of potable water in the camps and will also serve local communities as IDPs depart. The USAID/OFDA grant with CRS will install motorized boreholes in five camps, 1,905 latrine stances, 32 washing slabs, 124 child-friendly latrines, and 238 bathing shelters. A Memorandum of Understanding between the Bank of Uganda and USAID/OFDA was signed to allow the opening of an U.S. Government office in Gulu pending Washington approval.

Despite concerns expressed by the NGO community about an anticipated decline in OFDA resources for northern Uganda, in FY06, $12 million was awarded to 18 organizations, including four UN agencies to undertake non-food humanitarian assistance. Nearly 50 percent of the funds made available will be utilized to improve access to clean water and sanitation.

Ambassador Browning and CDR Greene, CJTF-HOA, briefed NGOs in Kitgum on the arrival and mandate of the civil-military affairs team.

September 1-15, 2006

Economic activity is picking up in Pader District where an USAID/OFDA partner reported that the streets are noticeably more filled with vehicle and pedestrian traffic. One town, Pajule, was a virtual ghost town two weeks earlier. An estimated five to ten huts per week were erected in four new decongestion sites in western Pader. To date, land issues have not been a concern for internally-displaced persons, who say that traditional mechanisms will resolve any conflicts over land ownership. The results of a recent World Food Program revalidation exercise and UNOCHA's reports estimate that over 100,000 internally-displaced persons throughout Acholiland are preparing huts or residing in new decongestion sites. The numbers will remain imprecise, but the trend in movements from IDP camps to new sites is expected to continue in the coming months.

The Joint Monitoring Committee met on September 8. The draft National Peace, Recovery, and Development Plan (2006-2008) has been sent to Parliament for comment. Donors have been asked to comment on the document by September 19. Five ministers reported on progress in implementing the six-month emergency humanitarian action plan for the north and for their respective sectors. Donors and non-governmental organizations expressed satisfaction with the progress being made in many areas but stressed the need for informed coordination at both the local and national levels, flexibility, and pragmatism in carrying out the emergency program, and the importance of looking at the long-term consequences of emergency measures taken, particularly as they affect people's ability to return voluntarily to their places of origin.

The Ugandan Prime Minister is traveling to Gulu and Kitgum in northern Uganda from September 14-16 to meet with local authorities and non-governmental organizations on the coordination effort and will travel later to Teso, Lango, and Karamoja regions. A major focus of the visit will be the return of displaced persons from camps to their homes. It was revealed in a briefing to the diplomatic corps that President Museveni also will travel to Gulu in order to "camp out" for a few days to re-assure local populations that the situation is improving and to encourage LRA to continue assembling.

United Nations' Undersecretary General for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland visited northern Uganda from September 9-11. He traveled to Juba on September 11.

USG Activities: USAID participated in the Joint Monitoring Commission. The USG awarded a $30 million award to an NGO to address HIV/AIDA, malaria, and tuberculosis in conflict-affected areas of Uganda.

August 19-31, 2006

Current estimates of IDPs in Acholiland who have moved from internally displaced persons (IDP) camps to decongestion sites approach 100,000, according to UNOCHA, and it is expected that the number of IDPs who move from the established camps will rise significantly over the coming months. A more accurate count will be available after completion of a WFP/GOU revalidation exercise slated to begin September 4, which will count the people in IDP camps as well as decongestion sites. The exercise will also assist the UN and NGO agencies as they revise their programming and logistical strategies to cope with the transitioning displaced population. Representatives of IDPs are being included on committee discussions.

UNICEF says the number of night commuters in Gulu town is down from a high of 22,373 in July 2004 to 4,158 in July 2006 and 3,664 in August 2006. The trend is the same in Kitgum and Pader. UNICEF and its partners are assessing the needs of at risk children in the north to determine whether night commuter shelters should be transformed to meet other protection needs of children in the area.

UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights provided human rights and protection training to 200 Ugandan soldiers and members of the Local Defense and Auxiliary Forces.

USG Activities: USAID approved $550,000 for the Global Development Alliance to expand cotton production in northern Uganda. OFDA has approved approximately $5,200,000 thus far in FY06 to seven non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and three UN Agencies including 500,000 to UNOCHA for coordination of humanitarian assistance. OFDA partners will concentrate activities in sectors of water and sanitation, health, nutrition, and food security primarily in the underserved districts of Pader and Kitgum. OFDA programs are designed with protection issues as a cross cutting theme and are incorporated into all activities. The State Department's Bureau for Population, Refugees, and Migration approved $600,000 for World Food Program's feeding pipeline. UNICEF reports receiving $1,896,445 for child survival, $594,344 for education, and $1,521,595 for humanitarian support in northern Uganda from the U.S. Fund for UNICEF.

August 1-18, 2006

The improved security situation resulting from the decrease in LRA attacks and expansion of the Ugandan military's presence and coming dry season are encouraging internally-displaced persons to return home. Humanitarian agencies are reporting the continued return of IDPs to their areas of origin or "land access" camps close to their land. Returns are voluntary. Forty-six new land access sites have been identified and 18 have already opened. IDPs are returning to areas where there is a Ugandan military presence. UNHCR estimates that as many as 110,000 more returns are expected with the onset of the dry season in October as dry grass becomes available for roof construction and the second harvest begins.

UNICEF estimates 390,000 IDPs have returned in Lango and Teso regions. The number of "night commuters" decreased from 10,966 in May to 9,076 in June.

Surveys indicate that displaced persons are voluntarily returning to areas where there is a Ugandan military presence. There are no indications that the Ugandan military is restricting access to cultivation.

Approval by OFDA of $7.8 million was given for the continuation of emergency interventions in northern Uganda, primarily health, sanitation, and nutrition projects. Recipients include GOAL and Action Against Hunger. OFDA had already funded $3 million to non-governmental organizations in northern Uganda in 2006.

OFDA-funding has increased access to clean water to ten litres per person per day in six camps in Patongo region, making water access safer and allowing more time for farming activities. The deployment of OFDA officer to Gulu gave the USG an extended presence. USG visits included regional OFDA officer to monitor and review new funding requests; Food for Peace Officer; USAID Conflict Resolution team; Embassy officers; and pre-deployment assessments for DoD humanitarian assistance.