Mainstreaming migration into local urban planning in Uganda

Our new project in Uganda brings together local government and civil society organisations to mainstream migration into local urban planning, in light of the country’s rapid development and urbanisation. We officially launched the Action on-site with our partners, representatives of the EU and experts from Finland and Sweden.

Managing migration at local level in Uganda

Uganda is Africa's largest refugee hosting country, and one of the three largest refugee-hosting countries in the world, because of its proximity to neighbouring countries that have known political instability in the last decades, and its generally favourable refugee protection mechanisms. There are more than 1.5 million foreign nationals living in Uganda, of which 80% are refugees and asylum seekers. The West-Nile sub-region, where Yumbe and Nebbi Districts are located, hosts over 60% of refugees and asylum seekers.

In addition to implementing favourable refugee protection mechanisms, Uganda is also developing significantly and is rapidly urbanising. The World Bank estimates that the country’s urban population will have grown from 6 million in 2013 to 20 million in 2040. Cities in Uganda are then key drivers of economic development for the country. Migrants, both domestic and foreign, for whom rural-urban migration is a survival strategy are more and more being attracted to the cities. Hence the importance for urban centres and municipalities to mainstream migration issues in sustainable development planning.

It is in this context that MIEUX+ received a joint request from the Municipal Council of Nebbi, Yumbe Town Council and the NGO Urban Afrikanischer Traum to support them in effectively managing migration at the local level. By building bridges between the municipalities and civil society organisations, we hope to mainstream migration into local urban planning, in light of Uganda’s development vision and growth ambitions.

Kicking-off the project on-site

We kicked off the project late September 2022 with a launch event in Kampala with more than 35 participants. Representatives from the municipalities of Nebbi and Yumbe, the NGO Urban Afrikanischer Traum, the EU Delegation and MIEUX+ experts from Finland and Sweden, Ministry of Internal Affairs of Uganda, Koboko municipality, Ministry of Gender, Labour, Social Development, Makerere University, UNDP, Cities Alliance and other civil society organisations set up the scene for the project by discussing 1) current needs, 2) relevance of the topic and 3) commitment and engagement. During the event, it was highlighted the importance of adopting the Team Europe approach in the project and exchanging on some promising practices and lessons learnt with peers in the EU Member States. With the proven experience and knowledge from the MIEUX+ experts, local municipalities and civil society organisations would enhance their capacities when considering migration in their urban planning.

During the on-site mission, we met with the Migration Commissioner and Ministries of Gender, Labour and Social Development as well as Lands, Housing and Urban Development to discuss their main priorities and how the ongoing Action can take into account social and gender aspects when mainstreaming migration into local urban planning.

To ensure complementarity with other ongoing projects, the team and experts conducted consultations with UNDP Uganda and with the Cities Alliance, and its members, to discuss synergies and joint activities in the framework of the MIEUX+ Action.

For Magda Ulceluse, one of our experts involved in the project confirmed that “The mission was essential for our understanding of the local context in Uganda. Meetings with multiple stakeholders, including our local partners, helped us more thoroughly grasp the social, economic, cultural and political dimensions surrounding the issue of migration in the country, and their effects on local and national policymaking. The in-depth consultations with the mayors of Yumbe and Nebbi, especially, gave us a better sense of the local capacities and needs that this Action can address.”

Next steps

Taking stock from the consultations and meetings in Uganda, we will work with experts and partners in preparing guidelines with the capacity and training needs assessment. Building from this document, assessment reports will be then produced both for the Nebbi and Yumbe municipalities. Finally, a report with the main recommendations on mainstreaming migration into local urban planning will summarise the key findings from the documents abovementioned.