An investigation into compliance to physical planning standards in the refugee settlements in Uganda
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Most governments and refugee agencies like the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) have remained hesitant to execute urban planning principles and standards while resettling refugees and internally displaced persons. Government in particular has totally failed to integrate refugees in to the local Planning. As evidence from various literatures shows that refugee settlement camps are potential areas where urban planning principles and standards can be applied. Though most of the refugee settlements are still being governed by disjointed urban planning policies. In Uganda, several refugees and asylum seekers illegally have erected permanent buildings both in the refugee settlement area and across the country. The target population for this study was principally drawn and selected from refugees, community workers and Government workers in Kiryandongo. Interview guides for survey questions, in-depth key informant interviews, were developed and administered for data collection. Data analysis employed mixed methods approach that addressed the needs of qualitative and quantitative data. Microsoft Excel and ArcGIS were used to analyze data. Results revealed great disparities in the level of understanding of the term Urban Planning/Physical Planning. In general, of the entire refugees who were interviewed most of them do not know what Physical Planning and its relevance to human settlement organizations. Only a few who owned some buildings and plots in the nearby Town Council understood it. However, refugees were building and others have built permanent houses both commercial mainly in cluster K and N along the major road in the center of Molokonyi and residential where they reside within the refugee settlement required Physical Planning interventions and guidance which was never evident. Yet, the absence of urban Planning in the refugee settlement presented so many challenges like limited accessibility both in the areas where they reside and in the commercial areas where they carried out trading activities there is vulnerability in case of fire outbreak in the refugee settlement, limited access to water facilities, limited access to electricity, poor drainage system, limited privacy since the refugees build without any guidance from the Physical Planning Department, poor housing conditions, poor sanitations due to absence of wastes management facilities both solid and wastes water, vulnerability to diseases like cholera due to the poor hygiene in the refugee settlement. However, such challenges can be combated by applying planning/physical planning in the refugee settlement as prescribed in the United Nations Toolkit on planning for refugee settlements.