Cablegate: Wfp's Collaboration with Unhcr in Providing Food

Published: Wed 24 Sep 2003 07:51 AM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
E.O. 12958: N/A
1. Representatives from the U.S. Mission to the UN Agencies
for Food and Agriculture (FODAG), the State Department's
Office of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) and U.S.
Embassy Kampala conducted a joint assessment of the
collaboration between the World Food Program (WFP) and the
UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in the delivery
of food aid to refugees in Uganda, August 22-27. Uganda is
is a pilot country for the implementation of the 2002
Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between WFP and UNHCR
that transfers some responsibilities for refugee feeding
from UNHCR to WFP. The collaboration seems to be working
well, although some improvements could be made regarding
the determination of the number of beneficiaries and
addressing the sustainability of WFP's school feeding
program. End summary.
2. Representatives from FODAG, PRM and Kampala-based
regional Refugee Coordinator traveled to northeastern and
southwestern Uganda.
3. According to figures from UNHCR, there are
approximately 206,000 refugees in Uganda. The majority of
these refugees, approximately 175,000 or roughly 85
percent, are from Sudan. The remaining refugees are
primarily from Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the
Congo. WFP provides food assistance to nearly 155,000
refugees in 66 settlements.
4. The GOU must be credited with welcoming the refugees,
providing them with agricultural land and employing a
SelfReliance Strategy (SRS) designed to integrate refugees
into the Ugandan systems in the Adjumani, Moyo and Arua
districts of the country's northwest, where 65 percent of
the country's refugee population is located. The GOU is
particularly receptive to refugees from Sudan. This can be
attributed to the fact that the Sudanese once welcomed
Ugandan refugees in similar fashion. Indeed, many of
Ugandan President Museveni's cabinet ministers were once
refugees in the Sudan themselves.
5. The GOU allocates land to each refugee for farming.
The exact amount of allocated arable land is determined on
the community level by district officials and is not
systematic, which means that the amount of dedicated land
can vary. In one settlement each refugee was allocated as
much as .6 hectares of land for cultivation. This meant
that a family of five could receive as much as 3 hectares
of land for farming. (One hectare equates to approximately
2.5 acres.) In the newly opened Maadi Okollo settlement,
each refugee family is allocated one hectare, with
additional land to be allocated to larger families (details
have not yet been determined).
6. The GOU, in partnership with UNHCR and WFP, also
employs a self-reliance strategy (SRS). The two main goals
of SRS are basic food self-sufficiency and the integration
of provision of services to refugees on par with those
provided to nationals by local government entities.
Nationals in refugee-affected areas benefit from health
centers, primary schools, school-feeding programs, roads,
classrooms, water points and boreholes that were built to
assist refugees. This helps foster harmony between
refugees and nationals.
7. The combination of arable land and the SRS allows WFP
to gradually move from relief food distribution to targeted
feeding of beneficiaries as they become more self-
sufficient in food production. Refugees receive 100
percent food ration for the first two years, which varies
between 1791 kcal to 2169 kcal per day, per person,
depending on the food basket and refugee status.
Thereafter, rations are reduced based on a number of
factors, including refugee successes in food production and
other income-generating activities. As a result, in
UNHCR's Rhino Camp located in northwestern Uganda, refugees
who arrived in 2001-2003 receive 100 percent ration, while
the caseload from CY 2000 and CYs 1994-1999 receive 50
percent and 40 percent rations respectively. Such ration
reductions are designed to stimulate increased food
production and household self-sufficiency.
8. WFP and UNHCR have been working together under a
Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) since 1985. The MOU has
been revised four times, most recently on 9 July 2002.
With this revision, it was agreed that, under a pilot
project, WFP would be given responsibility for final
distribution of food aid in five selected operations
involving refugees, asylum seekers, returnees and/or
internally displaced persons (IDPs). Uganda has
participated in the year-long pilot program since April
9. The collaboration between UNHCR and WFP is working well
due to the Government of Uganda's (GOU) strong support for
refugees, coupled with the effectiveness of WFP's and
UNHCR's Implementing Partners (IPs) in delivering and
monitoring food aid delivery. WFP and UNHCR
representatives credit the ongoing success of the pilot
project to their working relationship with highly capable
Implementing Partners, such as the German Development
Service (ded). However, better coordination and
communication in determining the number of would-be
beneficiaries within the refugee community and a clear
strategy regarding the sustainability of WFP's school
feeding programs would go a long way towards strengthening
this pilot program.
10. For its part, the Rhino Camp IP, German Development
Service (DED), was equally positive about its working
relationship with WFP. DED representatives did, however,
complain about slow reimbursement for handling costs on the
part of WFP. They also noted that WFP does not always
report impending pipeline breaks on a timely basis. As a
result, the IP is left ill-prepared to adequately inform
the beneficiaries of a reduction or substitution in their
food basket for a particular distribution.
11. UNHCR representatives in the field also raised a few
areas in which their partnership with WFP could be
enhanced. In addition to sharing the IPs concern regarding
WFP's timely notification of breaks in the pipeline, one
UNHCR staffer suggested that WFP was understaffed for the
operation. As a result, WFP's monthly distribution
schedule often stretched into 5 weeks.
12. Some UNHCR personnel also felt that WFP's logistical
operation could be enhanced with additional trucks for
delivery the various distribution points. WFP responded
that it would not be cost-effective to purchase additional
trucks that would only be in operation once a month and
idle for the remaining period.
13. WFP representatives raised the issue of slow
registration of refugees on the part of UNHCR. This is an
important issue because timely and accurate registration of
refugees helps prevent duplicate distributions to the same
individuals and their families during a single distribution
cycle. UNHCR has planned to conduct a country-wide
registration this year but it had to be delayed until next
year due to the recent hurried re-location of refugees to
the West Nile. This required UNHCR to shift both material
and staff resources in order to avert an humanitarian
14. WFP's school feeding program is benefiting more than
170,000 children throughout the country. The program has
also proven tremendously successful. Both school
attendance and test scores have improved as a result. The
program is so successful that a representative from the
Ministry of Education requested additional USG assistance
in developing the school system's infrastructure to
accommodate increasing numbers of students interested in
attending school. School-age students bring their younger
siblings to school because of the availability of food and
because it allows their mothers to farm and take care of
household activities.
15. According to figures from WFP, funding support from
USDA's McGovern-Dole initiative represented approximately
60 percent of WFP/Uganda's school feeding efforts in
2001/2002. Increased school feeding requirements, coupled
with cuts in the McGovern-Dole initiative, have reduced
this percentage to 23 percent for the period 2003/2004.
This should be of great concern to WFP and its implementing
partners because the McGovern-Dole program's overall
funding level has been cut (despite ever increasing
requirements) and it appears that it might be cut
significantly in the coming years.
16. Given the success of WFP's school feeding program in
Uganda, any reduction in McGovern-Dole would have
significant adverse effects in Uganda. Travelers raised
this issue with WFP and GOU representatives with an eye
towards encouraging them to begin considering alternative
funding mechanisms for the program. It is apparent that
WFP and the GOU have not developed alternative potential
sources of funding for the school feeding program in the
event that McGovern-Dole funds are not available in the
17. Overall, travelers were encouraged by the
implementation of the pilot project between UNHCR and WFP.
It was clear that both organizations respect each other's
comparative advantage in this endeavor and are open to
strengthening the collaboration. Some logistical
challenges were apparent, but this is to be expected in the
transition period and should not present an obstacle to
further implementation of the MOU.
18. Travelers are concerned about WFP's, UNHCR's and the
GOU's preparedness for any reduction in McGovern-Dole
funding and will encourage WFP in Kampala, Rome, and
Washington to strategize for such an occurrence.
19. Mission members have encouraged WFP Kampala to inform
both UNHCR and the IPs of any potential break in the food
pipeline in a timely manner.
20. PRM and Refcoord Kampala cleared on this message. HALL
2003ROME04340 - Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
View as: DESKTOP | MOBILE © Scoop Media