By Halima Athumani
KAMPALA, Uganda (AA) – Humanitarian assistance for refugees in Uganda creates significant economic benefits for the local economy, according to a study by the University of California.
“We found that the assistance given to the refugees produces an income multiplier for host communities,” lead researcher, Professor Edward Taylor told journalists in Kampala on Friday.
Taylor explained that the multipliers were significant, regardless of whether a refugee family received cash or food. He emphasized however “when a refugee household receives cash from the UN World Food Programme [WFP], the annual income in the Ugandan economy increases by $1,100.”
This is compared to an increase of $850 when the assistance is given in the form of in-kind food.
Taylor went on to say that when the WFP provided cash assistance, “each dollar increased real income in and around the settlements by an additional $1 and $1.50”, adding the corresponding increase for in-kind food aid was $1.30.
This is the first time the WFP has calculated the economic impact of refugees in the East African country whose policy has been termed as “generous by providing agricultural land to refugees”.
Out of the 800,000 refugees living in Uganda, the WFP provides assistance to 650,000 out of which 10 percent have been receiving cash assistance since 2014.
WFP Deputy Country Director Cheryl Harrison said that cash-based transfers not only empowered people by giving them the ability to decide for themselves what to eat, but also boosted their purchasing power.
“We are planning to increase this and reach about 200,000 refugees early next year in cash instead of food,” she said.
Funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, the study also found that each refugee household that had been given land by the Ugandan government contributed up to $220 to the local economy annually, depending on the settlement.
The research data was collected from the some 60,000 Congolese refugees in Rwamwanja camp in western Uganda and 190,000 South Sudanese refugees in Adjumani district in northern Uganda.