By Marko Taibot and Bazio Doreen.


Residents of Maaji III Refugee Settlement, Ukusijoni Sub-County Adjumani district including the host community are reaping from the benefits of an irrigation scheme worth Shs 156m that was established under the Development Response to Displacement Impacts Project (DRDIP). The beneficiaries numbering up to 95, have since last year accumulated revenue of more than Shs 2.8m from the sale of the vegetables from their Irrigation farm.

Mr. Mark Akuti, the Chairperson of the small-scale irrigation farm in Maaji III Refugee Settlement underscored that apart from getting income from the sale of the produce, many of the members are learning skills of managing seedbeds, and how to manage vegetable gardens.

“We started at a low pace, but we were able to get up to Shs 2.8 million we are going to double our efforts to see that we benefit from the multimillion-dollar irrigation project. The landlord gave us this land to use for 20 years, we intend to make good use of this project,” Akuti said.

Akuti further pledges that, their target is to expand the nursery beds and also expand the farm so that they will be able to raise Shs 5-8million in a season and close to Shs 10-15million in a year

Ms. Tereza Minzi, a refugee who is also a member of the irrigation farm in Maaji Refugee Settlement, emphasized that through the irrigation scheme, they are now able to get vegetables throughout the year.

“We have been suffering a lot, during the dry season we used to suffer a lot, my children were becoming malnourished during the season because we had challenges getting food due to the reduced food ratios, when I come here I can go back with small greens or tomatoes for my family,” Minzi said


Challenges encountered by the members

Although the beneficiaries of the irrigation farm numbering up to 95 are reaping from the irrigation farm, the members have cited a lack of accountability and transparency by their leaders, which has made them lose hope and affected their revenue last year.

Ms. Betty Utua Dramundu, one of the group members complained that she was in the team of persons involved in the sale of the vegetables but there has been no accountability of where the money has been kept or spent.

“The produce we got from here has been sold, but we don’t know where the money is, we have lost hope that is why you see no activity taking place here, we need full accountability for every money that we got last year,” Utua narrates. 

Another beneficiary, Ms Joyce Mitiripke, explained that since May last year, they have not been told what has been harvested. According to Joyce in the first season, they got close to shs 1.5 million; in the second season, they fetched Shs 1 million; and in the third season, they only got less than shs 500,000 but the leaders have not given accountability.

However, Mr. Akuti while acknowledging the challenges raised by the group members rather said that the biggest challenge of the project has been ownership by beneficiaries and the poor attitude of the members. Akuti further revealed that, due to the poor attitude of the members, only very few are committed to working daily.


What the members are suggesting

Mr Akuti has recommended a review of the group members so that the group will have like-minded people who will be willing to work. He also suggested that there is a need to come up with a duty roster to guide members on when to work. 

He also adds that due to the poor attitude of the members, that have started a mindset change campaign for the beneficiaries, including meetings to explain to them how this money has been spent because there is still group money in the account, observing that if the 95 members distribute the money, it will become a drop in the ocean and have no impact.

Ms. Getrude Lekuru, the community facilitator, also said that the group members managed to plant various vegetables like tomatoes, cabbages, green paper, onions, and eggplants, which they sold and also consumed.

On the revolving funds, Lekuru also advised the group members to start the revolving fund so that the members would start benefiting from the sale of the produce.


Reaction of leaders 

Mr. Abubakar Gulam, the DRDIP Desk Officer, Adjumani, earlier also stated that the beneficiaries had not put the multimillion-dollar investment into proper use yet but also suggested that in the next phase of the project, Individuals who are willing and have the required capacity will be targeted to ensure the project is put into right use. In contrast, the rest of the beneficiaries will benefit from labor.

On the other hand, Mr. Taban Peter Data, the Adjumani Resident District Commissioner, has promised to closely monitor all the DRDIP projects to ensure value for money, adding that, it is the only way the locals can get out of poverty.

“Please take advantage of this irrigation scheme that tries to address the climate change challenges that we are facing, we should not be producing a lot of vegetables even during the dry season,” Taban noted.

DRDIP is a Government Project whose main objective is to improve access to basic social services, expand economic opportunities and enhance environmental management in refugee-hosting districts.