Refugees camps turn into schools

By The Citizen Reporter
Dar es Salaam. “I would like to commend the two principal features of  One UN Joint Programme 6.1, which we believe are exemplary in the way development assistance programmes could be designed and implemented most effectively,” said the Kigoma Regional Commissioner Col (rtd) Joseph Simbakalia at a recent ceremony where the United Nations handed over some of assets and infrastructures which were formerly used to provide various services to the refugee community and have now been converted into social services facilities for  the residents..

“One UN J.P. 6.1 was designed according to the priorities and in close dialogue with both regional and local government authorities and there was visible focus and synergy in the joint allocation of resources,” said the RC at Lugufu, a former refugee camp, now converted into girls and boys secondary schools under the programme.

The programme namely Transition from Humanitarian Assistance to Sustainable Development in north-western Tanzania is one of the  UN  programmes where its agencies in the country have jointly tackled national development priorities.

Progress in recent years in achieving democratic and peaceful solutions to conflicts in neighbouring countries has resulted in a significant decline in the number of refugees living in Tanzania and consequently the downscaling of humanitarian operations in the country.

However, the return of refugees to their home countries and closure of camps have left behind many assets which were formerly used for humanitarian assistance.

JP 6.1 addressed development needs that resulted from the withdrawal of humanitarian actors from North-western Tanzania. The Programme built on the needs and priorities expressed by the Regional, District and Local Government Authorities (LGAs) and capitalised on the combined advantages of the UN agencies present in the region to forge a coordinated UN response to the challenges faced.

The four year programme ran from July 2008 to June 2011 with a total budget of  $8,470, 134. The programme covered the districts of Kigoma, Kibondo, Kasulu in Kigoma Region and Ngara and  Karagwe districts in Kagera Region.

The programme was divided into three clusters of interventions:  Wealth Creation; Social Services; and Governance and Sustainable Management of Natural Resources .

The aim was  to strengthen stakeholder capacity in the two regions for economic planning, employment creation, agriculture and market improvement; improvement of stakeholder access to primary health care services, quality education, water and to strengthen government capacity in planning and analysis, border management, conflict management, sustainable use of natural resources, rule of law, and gender aspects.

Enhancing the quality of education was one of the programme’s most visible outputs both in terms of the numbers and sizes of the physical structures that were constructed or rehabilitated as well as the diversity of interventions aimed at capacity development of local government authorities.

District councils identified priority areas for rehabilitation and reconstruction in the former refugee camps for delivery of the required social services.

Speaking at the Lugufu ceremony on behalf of the UN system in Tanzania, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Deputy Country Director Ms Louise Chamberlain said:

“I am proud to say that the programme can show a number of achievements which include these two boarding schools –The Lugufu Girls and Lugufu Boys secondary schools, full with classrooms, teachers houses, libraries, administration blocks, dining and assembly halls and fencing for the girls school compound.”

“In Kasulu District we have a co-education secondary school  and a health centre at Myovosi.  In Kibondo district, there is the Mkugwa Girls Secondary School which has three equipped laboratories, two furnished libraries and solar power facilities. Two dispensaries at   Kisogwe and Kasanda, with equipment and houses for staff, will be providing health services to the people.”

In addition, Ms Chamberlain said  in Kibondo, some 173 households now occupy an area which was formerly part of a refugee camp  and benefit from water and health facilities and doing farming activities.

“The programme also refurbished police stations, border offices and provided various equipment and training for more than 300 police, immigration; and village officers in this region…. achieved remarkable results in other sectors as such as increasing the capacity of the community in small scale agro-food production and processing,” she added.

Speaking earlier, the Bukoba District Executive Director Dominic Kweka, said the programme also enhanced the knowledge and skills of health workers and community services persons through further training in Kibondo, Kasulu and Kigoma districts, while the areas also enjoy improved water and sanitation, thanks to the rehabilitation of water systems and training given on their management.

In a similar ceremony in Ngara District the following day, the Kagera Regional Administrative Secretary Nassor Mnambila said the presence of refugees in his region has had an adverse impact on delivery of social services and the environment. “The situation put a lot of pressure on water supplies, water sources were polluted, there was an increase in diseases and damage to road and other infrastructure.

Mnambila thanked the UN for the J.P. 6.1 programme which has he said has addressed some of those challenges. He said the government would ensure that all the gains are sustained for the benefit of wananchi.

On her part and on behalf of the UN system in Tanzania, Ms Louise Chamberlain mentioned some of the results of the UN programme in Ngara District as the Lukole High School and Lukole Health Centre which included the construction of teachers houses, laboratory building, library and an administration block which has internet and solar power facilities. Some old buildings were rehabilitated into dormitories for boys and girls.  The health centre also provides housing for staff and wards with a 60-bed capacity.

In Kagera Region, the programme also made possible the surveying and mapping of village boundaries.

Some 147 families have been provided with land plots and  resettled in an area that was once part of refugee camp and benefit from services offered by Lukole health Centre and the high school. On capacity building, the programme provided various equipment and training for more than 80 police, immigration; and village officers in the region.

“Also worth noting is wealth creation that resulted from the implementation of the project through the employment of local contractors, purchase of construction material from local markets and creation of employment opportunities for local communities,” Ms Chamberlain said.

The UNDP Deputy Country Director also thanked the implementing partners in this programme which she named as  the Ministry of Gender Community Development and Children, Ministry of Education and Vocational Training, Ministry of Home Affairs, Prime Minister’s Office Regional Administration and Local Governments; Regional Secretariats in Kigoma and Kagera regions as well as local government authorities in the five disricts.

“Without their leadership, hard work and commitment, we wouldn’t be witnessing this event here today,” she said.

In order to ensure programme sustainability, the Kigoma Regional Commissioner told  respective District Executive Directors to include all the rehabilitated assets and implemented activities into government inventory through annual budgets.

Similar statements were made by the Kagera regional administration and a representative of Prime Minister’s Office (Local Government and regional Administration) Mr Ebenezer Mlingi. The government is also providing human resources to sustain the established institutions.

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