Building Resilient Communities
Since 1994, ARC has helped refugees in Rwanda take back control of their lives. Over the years, we have built a team of resilient, effective, and experienced staff that can act quickly in emergencies, while at the same time develop creative and effective long-term projects.
This year, those skills were put to the test when thousands of Burundian refugees streamed into Rwanda in the space of a few weeks, fleeing political instability at home. At the same time, we’ve continued to improve the quality and breadth of our support to refugees. Increasingly focused on building resilience, we are working to redefine the refugee experience in Rwanda.
At the heart of what we do in the country are the essential, lifesaving services offered to over 100,000 refugees, mainly from the Democratic Republic of Congo. We help to provide the camp infrastructure required to support those who have lost nearly everything, including basic, primary healthcare, reliable water sources, and a roof over their heads.
Our health services save lives. More children are reaching their fifth birthday than ever before, with 100% vaccination rates and vast improvements in maternal health. We provide clean, reliable water through ARC’s camp-wide water systems. Experts in the design and construction of durable, cost-effective structures, we build housing, latrines, showers, and cooking areas. We help people to rebuild resiliency and find a place of stability in an otherwise uncertain world.
Building In-Camp Economies
Livelihoods and food security are inextricably linked – families who struggle to work toward economic recovery find it difficult to provide nutritious and plentiful food to their families. We look for ways to strengthen that link, partnering with refugee communities to shape projects that connect jobs to food security and nutrition.
We assist families with poultry, vegetable, passion fruit, and mushroom farming, which increase incomes while also providing a consistent supply of food. New collaborations are on the horizon, including an income-generating grinding mill program that will support families in maize production.
Building in-camp economies also means encouraging healthier nutrition practices. As families are able to earn and save, they in turn gain the freedom to make more choices in the food they eat. We provide healthy cooking demonstrations and nutrition education, combining knowledge with access to the expanding food options our livelihoods projects provide.
Collaboration in a crisis
In April 2015, we responded to the influx of Burundian refugees fleeing insecurity at home and seeking refuge in Rwanda. ARC acted quickly, and in collaboration with UNHCR and other partners we helped to establish the Mahama refugee camp. By June, Mahama hosted over 28,000 people, with ARC providing health care, nutrition services, and shelter for the entire camp population. We’re beginning to build Mahama’s in-camp economy as well, bringing resilience-building projects to new communities.
The changing dynamics of displaced persons demands deeper reflection and a shift to more meaningful engagement of affected populations as principal parties, contributors and shapers of their futures and destiny..
Bernad Ochieng, Country Director
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