CROP PRODUCTION DROPS AS MANY REFUGEES LOSE FARMLAND TO FRAGMENTATION DUE TO OVERPOPULATION

BY WILLIAM ELIJAH | Kyangwali News Staff Writer


It has come to notice that due to the continuous political unrest in neighboring countries of Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Rwanda and Burundi, the current statistics show that the number of asylum seekers has sharply risen. This has consequently led to land fragmentation in Kyangwali refugee settlement in Kikuube district unlike before.The lack of enough extensive chunks of land for crop production has made what was the backbone of refugees well being to be broken.

Basically, back in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s the settlement was sparsely populated. Every household would be allocated with a reasonable portion of land for crop growing that enabled the refugees to sustain themselves as they patiently waited for their monthly aid from the World Food Program (WFP). This registered positive impacts on refugee livelihoods as they always expected good yields twice a year. However, suddenly in the recent years as the population per square kilometer in the settlement has kept on increasing, the once well known areas for cultivation like Maratatu, Kavure, Mufamu to mention but a few, are now flooded with newly resettled refugees majorly Congolese refugee from Ituri province who flee the recently due crashes in their region.

During an interview with some refugees, they clearly spoke about how their life- style is changing due to unreliable crop production. “We used to consume our own produced food from our harvest, but currently we have first to visit markets unlike before,” Rukundo Alpha said. In addition to that refugees who once enjoyed good crop harvest to an extent that they even sold some of their crop produce to the nationals were now practicing frugality. This because most of these people are trying to survive not just financially but also to have something left for them to eat. On another hand, it’s of great joy to our neighbors in areas near by the settlement, since they are able to get ready market for their crops which will perhaps boost agriculture in the region. This possibly will benefit the refugee. As a matter of facts, starvation will not be given any room in the settlement.

It has come to our observation that some of the refugees were not pleased by the arrival of new refugees because according to their complaints, they claim that the further division and allocation of land to the new refugee arrivals has led to land scarcity which has resulted in low crop production. Alternatively, refugees need to think outside the box and look for other projects such as farming cooperatives and starting up small businesses to raise their standards of living rather than sticking to agriculture as the only means for food and financial sustenance.


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