"World Humanitarian Day is an important day because the world is seeing more and more disasters that are affecting more and more people. It is a day that concerns us all."
- Kasper Engborg – Humanitarian Affairs Officer for UN OCHA- Uganda
This year’s World Humanitarian Day theme people helping people was commemorated by ActionAid Uganda and UN OCHA Uganda at the scouts’ National Camporee in Kampala. Over 4000 youth camped in Kazi and held a dialogue on universal humanitarian principles.
The ActionAid team with UNOCHA visited a large gathering of scouts to exchange with the youth and to reinforce the message on the centrality of communities in humanitarian response.
Explained Charles Businge ActionAid Uganda Country Director.
ActionAid staff and UN OCHA representatives engaged with teens aged 15 to 18 years from all over Uganda. Nagudi Edith an 18-year old scout explained that her troupe members were the first ones on the scene when, her village in Bududa was buried by a massive landslide, which killed over 300 people in March 2010.
The scouts mobilized very quickly at district level to pull out survivors from the mud and lay to rest the unlucky ones we found.
Though she herself and her family lost everything and were displaced by the tragedy, she still finds solace in her scouting community. “At least I was doing something to help my people and tried to make things better.” She concluded.
“The first respondents to a disaster are often the people on the ground that are hit by the disasters itself. The local populations are the first ones there and in that sense networks such as the scouts are very important because they help mobilize human resources to respond to disasters at a local level.” Explained Sophia Irepu ActionAid Human Securtity and Emergengy Thematic Coordinator.
UNOCHA and ActionAid Uganda have since1998 collaborated in areas affected by the Lord Resistance Army to bring humanitarian assistance to some 1.8million people who had been displaced as a consequence of the civil war. Other ActionAid emergency interventions in Uganda include during the severe floods that affected much of the North Eastern region of the country in 2007/8 as well as dealing with the recent influx of refugees from both the DRC and Kenya in during the events of post election violence to mention a few.
We have made big strides in conflict and emergency situations as we have supported over 20,000 women in the past 5 years.
Especially women refugees who had come from the Republic Democratic of Congo out of the conflict in Matanda in Kanungu District.” Harriet Gimbo explains. ActionAid Uganda Women’s Rights and HIV AIDS Thematic Coordinator.
As the scouts asked questions about UNOCHA’s ongoing Humanitarian work in Uganda, Kasper Engborg explained that the agency is scaling down its operations and preparing to leave the country at the end of the year. “OCHA only comes in when the national capacity is not adequate to respond to a disaster. Fortunately, Uganda is now at a point where its national capacities are sufficient to respond to the level of needs that we see in the country.” The Humanitarian Affairs Officer for OCHA explained that this is a good thing as the Government takes over more of the coordination of emergency response.