Photo: Ingrid Prestetun/NRC

NRC in Uganda

Uganda hosts over 1.5 million refugees and asylum seekers. NRC gives both life-saving and long-term support to refugees from South Sudan, DR Congo and Burundi.


A total of


people in need received our assistance in 2023.


Humanitarian overview

Uganda hosts 1,578,661 refugees and asylum seekers (as of 31 July 2023), 91 per cent of whom live in settlements and the remaining 9 per cent in urban areas. Between January and August 2023, Uganda received 67,296 new arrivals, including 19,409 from South Sudan and 18,327 from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Although the Ugandan government has an open-door policy for refugees, food security remains a major concern in various regions of Uganda, due to factors such as climate change, crop diseases and limited access to agricultural resources. The cut in food aid has put refugees in dire straits. The latest round of cuts in July follows earlier cuts in 2020, 2021 and 2022. This year, the cuts have seen the most vulnerable refugees and new arrivals receive only 70 per cent food rations, while the moderately vulnerable receive 30 per cent rations. The least vulnerable, self-reliant households have been cut off from monthly food aid.

The effects of an unfunded humanitarian response, high inflation and food ration cuts can have long-term consequences for a country’s development. Malnourished children, for example, may grow up with physical and cognitive impairments that limit their potential and productivity as adults. Meanwhile, poor living conditions may push the most vulnerable families and individuals into negative coping mechanisms.

  • 118,659
    people benefited from our education programme in 2023
  • 23,458
    people benefited from our food security programme
  • 752
    people benefited from our shelter programme
  • 9,532
    people benefited from our protection programme
  • 103,589
    people benefited from our ICLA programme
  • 39,382
    people benefited from our WASH programme
  • 2,810
    people benefited from other NRC activities


NRC's operation

NRC’s Uganda programme is delivered through two approaches: 1. A multi-sectoral approach that includes education, protection from violence, livelihoods and food security (LFS), water, sanitation and hygiene promotion (WASH), shelter, and information, counselling, and legal assistance (ICLA) which are delivered in line with safe and inclusive programming (SIP) standards and digital; 2. a community-based approach which aids in the assessment and determination of the level of vulnerability for the participants. NRC Uganda complements its programme with existing referral pathways established with other humanitarian actors to respond to the needs of the affected population in all the major refugee hosting districts including the urban areas.

NRC EducationEducation

NRC focuses on ensuring that the most vulnerable displacement-affected children and youth, especially girls and children with disabilities, have access to education. We strive to improve transition to, and retention in, formal learning, in cooperation with national authorities, while addressing the impact of climate change through our education programming. Our activities include:

  • language learning for new arrivals
  • return to learning activities
  • cash for education via the Accelerated Education Programme (cash for access and scholastic materials)
  • remedial and catch-up classes and support for primary education for children and young adults
  • vocational training for young adults with self-employment and diversified livelihood options
  • support for teacher professional development
  • support for construction and rehabilitation of learning facilities
  • support for improvement of teachers’ welfare in hard-to-reach areas
  • school materials and multipurpose cash to address financial barriers to education
  • protection and psychosocial support services through the Better Learning Programme
  • strengthening the capacity of local education authorities (SMC, PTA) in leading the planning and prioritising of schools’ activities

NRC Information, counselling and legal assistance (ICLA)Information, counselling and legal assistance (ICLA)

Our ICLA services help refugees and vulnerable host communities to know, claim and exercise their rights. Our ICLA teams:

  • provide cash to facilitate rent and access to documentation
  • help refugees and host communities to obtain legal and civil documentation
  • help resolve disputes on housing, land and property
  • research and advocate on housing, land and property rights, legal identity and employment laws and procedures
  • provide information services and training sessions on housing, land and property, refugee status determination, legal identity, access to essential services, collaborative dispute resolution and employment laws and procedures
  • lead on durable solutions in relation to local integration of refugees into their host communities

NRC Livelihoods and food securityLivelihoods and food security

The lack of post-primary school opportunities is a major challenge for refugees in Uganda. To help them earn a living, our livelihood and food security teams:

  • implement a graduation model to graduate people from food insecurity and poverty to promote self-reliance
  • facilitate communities to access agricultural inputs through a market-based approach
  • offer vocational skills development for refugees and nationals to gain self-employment, as well as agriculture and entrepreneurship and/or enterprise development
  • provide business support and cash grants to vulnerable youths and adults to increase their access to income-generating livelihood opportunities
  • provide cash grants to refugees with specific needs, especially those with disabilities, single-headed households, and elderly people, to enable them to cover their basic needs upon arrival

NRC Protection from violenceProtection from violence

NRC supports people affected by displacement to enjoy their right to freedom from violence, coercion and deliberate deprivation across all phases of displacement. Our protection team:

  • work on community engagement and awareness to change community attitudes and behaviours
  • provide cash-based interventions (CBIs) to meet domestic needs for registered populations
  • build the capacity of community-based structures to effectively deliver protection assistance and increase refugee participation
  • strengthen the mobile protection desks in communities to enhance ease of access for services
  • identify and review the existing referral pathways to ensure people with specific needs are supported with all relevant services

NRC Shelter and settlementsShelter and settlements

We provide in-kind or cash support solutions to facilitate temporary, transitional or permanent shelter. Our shelter teams:

  • provide cash for rent, cash for emergency shelter solutions, and emergency shelter materials for new arrivals
  • construct emergency and semi-permanent shelters and latrines, especially for refugees with specific needs, like people with disabilities and the elderly
  • provide, build and rehabilitate educational learning spaces and provide furniture
  • construct emergency shelters for endemic response

NRC Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH)Water, sanitation and hygiene promotion (WASH)

Our WASH teams are responsible for providing access to clean water and improved hygiene and sanitation to displaced and host communities. Our WASH experts:

  • enhance access to clean drinking water, sanitation and hygiene to people in settlements, for urban areas and in learning and health institutions
  • together with communities, establish and upscale WASH facilities for displaced individuals with a particular focus on renewable energy options
  • provide permanent water solutions to refugees
  • work with the government and local actors (e.g. KCCA) to extend WASH services to unserved areas with vulnerable and low-income communities
  • actively engage and participate in advocacy on high-risk practices including on cholera, hepatitis and Covid-19 prevention

About NRC in Uganda

1997, re-registered 2014
International staff
Areas of operation
West Nile districts of Yumbe (Bidibidi settlement), Terego/Madi-okolo (Rhino Camp & Imvepi), Arua Urban, Lamwo, Adjumani (Ayilo, Nyumanzi, Magi), Kampala and Southwestern districts of Isingiro (Nakivale/Oruchinga), Kisoro, Bundibugyo and Kikube (Kyanggwali)
National staff


Country Director

Laura Marshall


+256 783 382 384