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WFP prioritises food assistance for the most vulnerable refugees in Uganda as needs outstrip resources

This is a summary of what was said by Marcus Prior, WFP’s Deputy Country Director in Uganda – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at press briefing at the WFP Country Office in Kampala.

KAMPALA – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) will in 2023 implement a progressive shift to needs-based targeting of general food assistance for refugees in Uganda, following an endorsement of the approach at the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) Steering Group meeting held on 13 December 2022.

This approach marks Phase III of a prioritization exercise which started in 2021 in response to funding shortfalls for general food assistance for refugees. The basic tenet of this phase is to ensure that the most vulnerable refugees and new arrivals receive the highest recommended rations, while weaning the least vulnerable and self-reliant households off the monthly general food assistance. 

At the heart of this shift is the need for refocusing on resilience and livelihood strengthening activities that support a broader transition to self-reliance in refugee settlements. Refugees are important actors in Uganda’s socioeconomic development, who when supported to become self-reliant, can participate in and contribute to the country’s economic growth.

The new needs-based approach to food assistance is the result of extensive consultations between WFP, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency and the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM). It will draw extensively from and be informed by the data from the 2022 Individual Profiling Exercise in defining refugee vulnerability. 
Prioritization is not the same as ration cuts and is a way to mitigate the impact of limited funding on the most vulnerable, by identifying them and protecting them from ration cuts. Providing rations according to levels of need ensures that blanket ration cuts do not disproportionately affect the most vulnerable refugees while supporting the less vulnerable refugees to stand on their own.

WFP will continue to engage all key stakeholders, including refugees and non-governmental organizations working in refugee settlements, with a view to ensuring a smooth, phased implementation of this approach which is slated to commence in the first quarter of 2023.

The first step will entail identification of the least vulnerable households which have attained self-reliance and to support their progress while shifting them off general food assistance.

This approach allows us to optimise available scarce resources in the most efficient and effective manner, and to bring even greater quality to our programmes in support of refugee self-reliance.

While the most vulnerable households will receive the highest ration feasible, WFP will continue to assist moderately vulnerable families while working in close collaboration with cooperating partners to link refugees to livelihood activities with a view to enhancing their self-reliance.

At all stages, WFP, UNHCR and OPM have taken a risk-informed approach to elaborating the principles underpinning Phase III, which will be further informed by continued discussions with partners.

WFP Uganda takes this opportunity to thank donors who continue to fund the refugee response in the country, and to urge strengthened support to the largest refugee population in Africa. However, despite continuous resource mobilization efforts and advocacy in support of the refugee response, WFP and partners are expecting to face severe funding shortfalls in the coming months which will necessitate further assistance cuts in 2023. 

WFP currently provides monthly assistance in the form of food and cash to 1.4 million refugees in 13 settlements across Uganda. To effectively provide emergency support while enabling refugees to become self-reliant, we will need more donor support. We call upon you, members of the media, to work with us to tell the stories of refugees, mobilise resources and see them not just survive - but thrive.

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The United Nations World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian organization saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.

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Uganda Food Security Refugees and migration


For more information please contact (email address:

Patience Akumu, WFP/Kampala, Mob: +256 700 964 398
Alessandro Abbonizio, WFP/Nairobi, Mob: +254 723 001 639