Nakivale refugees on plot growing own crops, © Unidos

Unidos Social Innovation Centre

Turning refugees into change makers – that is the goal of the Unidos Social Innovation Centre. In the Nakivale Refugee Settlement in South West Uganda the refugee-led organisation aims at empowering young refugees with entrepreneurial skills.

44 %
of young Nakivale refugees unemployed and underserved

It is becoming increasingly important to empower refugees as external support decreases. The World Food Programme (WFP) progressively reduced food rations for refugee settlements in South-West Uganda to 40% in 2021 (compared to 2019). According to Unidos, the ongoing drought is further exacerbating the consequences by decreasing the refugees’ own harvests. That’s why the organisation’ founders decided to re-write their own story: By inclusive education and the dissemination of entrepreneurial skills they aim at establishing food security in their refugee settlement. Through the application of permaculture these determined refugees do not only regenerate soil and ecological environment but also their own lives and the community.

lives impacted through forming partnerships

Unidos team, Nakivale Refugee Settlement, Uganda, seven people standing in front of building with lettering DEFIANTS
The Unidos team in Nakivale Refugee Settlement, Uganda. © UNIDOS

“Our vision is to completely transform our refugee camp into a regenerative community, where everyone will become self-sufficient. We firmly believe that through developing strong entrepreneurial skills, we will be able to co-create, build resiliency and turn the hard and often painful situations that adversely impacted us in our home countries, into stories of success.“

Unidos’ vision

About the Unidos Social Innovation Centre​

~ 88 %
increase in refugees in Nakivale Refugee Settlement (2017-2022)

Regenerative Agriculture by Unidos

To create resilient communities, Unidos applies several regenerative techniques: Composting methods for high quality fertiliser supports permaculture gardening for sustainable agriculture. In this context, the refugees also pay attention to nature conservation and plant diversity. As permaculture regenerates the soil and saves water, its application benefits the whole community. The lack of space also encourages the young people to think outside the box and use methods such as vertical farming. Regular further training enables a constant process of adaptation to individual needs and circumstances.

man holding carrots, showing permaculture harvest in Nakivale refugee settlement, Uganda (Unidos)
Paulinho Muzaliwa, founder and director of UNIDOS, gets to the root of the problems and transforms them into solutions. © UNIDOS
up to 75% of the people trained in regenerative practices at the Social Innovation Centre go on to train others

Undios Empowers Women

For Unidos, women are the bedrock of community development. Empowering women is an effiecient way to ensure that the whole family is cared for. The refugee organisation also aims at minimising domestic violence, teenage pregnancies and forced marriages by reducing poverty in families.

Education is the Key

The Social Innovation Centre offers English lessons which is especially important in Nakivale Refugee Settlement as many people from different countries come together. Being able to speak English deminishes loneliness and opens up new opportunities – not only in the work environment. In combination with teaching the women how to make soap, the refugee-led organisation also offers business training and networking opportunities. Leadership training and a contact point for general advice helps the refugees and displaced women to find their way around in the new environment. Finally, equipping new arrivals with farming tools and knowledge on natural farming techniques helps the women to become established.

lives touched from
7+ nationalities

women and children watchen a soap production course in Uganda, Africa

Women and children take part in a soap making course run by the Social Innovation Centre. © UNIDOS

~ 150,000
people living in Nakivale Refugee Settlement in 2022

How to Support Unidos

The Social Innovation Centre is grateful for volunteers who support them at different stages of their processes: in the planning or the implementation of their projects, as well as in an advisory capacity. Partnerships are very valuable for Unidos to get information, tools and resources. These are often decisive for success.

All pictures: © UNIDOS

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