Who is who?

Just like all other markets all over the country, Gulu market is comprised of over 75 per cent women who run their businesses here. Picture by Ochan Hannington | 07 Dec 2015

By Speak FM

South Sudanese refugees in Uganda’s Gulu district, especially women want to have equal opportunities as nationals.

They demand to be incorporated in any government’s programmes – for instance Emyooga, which was established to offer economic empowerment to people. However, there is one problem with such government programmes: Not everyone is eligible.

“My (group) members who are mainly refugees also want to benefit from the program. But they do not have Uganda National Identification cards, which is a key requirement,” Rebecca Kiji said, the association chairperson of Women of South Sudanese Association in Gulu. The association is comprised of 60 members who are refugees from South Sudan.

Some refugees in Gulu district arrived decades ago – and they speak the local (Luo) language.

Emyooga will provide 570 million shillings in every district. The funds shall be made available for SACCO or Savings and Credit Cooperative Organizations; just like Rebecca’s.

Emyooga is presidential initiative, which is aimed supposedly at creating wealth as well as jobs; particularly for citizens.

Rebecca’s group want to be part of such programmes that offer financial support to small start-ups; like theirs. Rebecca argues groups like hers need to have access to funds – and actually be able to secure loans, from any such (government) scheme. She wants each of her members to be able to capitalize their small business.

But Deputy Resident Commissioner of the district, Tom Oree does not see a chance. “It is not possible for foreign nationals to benefit from (government) program …it is only meant to benefit Ugandans, and only upon proof of a national identity card,” he said.

In Gulu alone, more than one hundred groups of mainly women and youth have applied for Emyooga funds. All groups are comprised of nationals – and none is a–non–national yet.