Land shortages , a threat to South Sudan refugees

South Sudanese refugees in Bidibidi refugee settlement in Yumbe district have raised complaints over shortage of land for agriculture in the settlement.

Many of the refugees said they cannot practice agriculture due to inadequate piece of land allocated to them and others are not suitable for farming. The refugees depend on food handouts from World Food Program and other agencies which ideally is inadequate to fight hunger.

Jimmy Kenyi, a refugee in village 10 in Bidibidi zone one settlement said many of the refugees have interest in agriculture but it is the issue of land limiting them from farming.

“Some of the pieces of land allocated by OPM cannot support agriculture because they are rocky and others are in valley areas that has some of the refugees to quit the place in search of good land. We were supported by the implementing partners with seeds last year but the crops did not do well due to the poor nature of the land,” he said.

Yassin Taban the district chairperson said OPM planned to engage the landlords to offer land for agriculture but some of the refugees are de-campaigning the proposal.

”The landlords can offer land for the refugees to practice agriculture but it is politics within the settlement among the refugees that if they begin to engage themselves in agriculture and there is enough production of food, the donors will withdraw from giving them food. We have enough land in other zones but the refugees are complaining of the distance, water problem, lack of roads leading to the land but how have the nationals being practicing agriculture in those areas?” he said.

He said it would be good for the refugees to practice agriculture which he said would supplement on what they receive from World Food Program and to cater for other needs.

The settlement commandant in OPM, Robert Baryamwesiga, said some of the agricultural plots allocated to the refugees are still idle in the settlement.

“As we plan to allocate more land for the refugees, they should continue utilising the available land and then ask for expansion later. We are going to do a verification exercise where we shall identify those who have utilized their plots, then we can re-allocate the unutilized land to other users,” he said.

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