This case study looks at how the Ugandan people help their fellow countrymen who are affected by crisis. We look at the various domestic humanitarian actors in Uganda (such as the government, the private sector, civil society organisations, affected communities, individuals and the Diaspora) and for each of these examine what triggers them to respond, what is the nature and volume of the assistance and what is the impact of this help. We also investigate how domestic resources are targeted, how much the affected community knows about the domestic response and the accountability of domestic assistance. This case study is a collaboration between Development Research and Training (DRT) and the GHA programme.
Pader and Katakwi districts in Uganda have suffered protracted and recurring disasters in the last ten years including conflict, flooding and drought. Of all the assistance provided in response to the conflict, communities valued the provision of security most, especially as it created a safe environment to enable other forms of assistance to be given. Security was mainly provided from domestic sources such as disarmament of warriors by the government and men from affected communities volunteering to guard the population. Following the floods in 2007, affected individuals helped each other to evacuate and safer communities in neighbouring areas offered refuge.
Disaster management structures do exist although the functionality and effectiveness of some of the structures at local government is limited, partly due to lack of funding. However, government humanitarian financing has increased since 2000 and the response by the government has improved not only in terms of timeliness but also because the government now provides relief itself whereas previously it played only a coordinating role.
Domestic response is crucial for the overall effectiveness of humanitarian assistance in Uganda and is particularly important when the presence of international organisations is relatively low, such as in extremely insecure environments. The challenge is to grow a humanitarian response system which plays on the strengths of all humanitarian actors, be they domestic or international, while simultaneously taking into account their various constraints.