UN-HABITAT announced on Tuesday that it had appointed a seasoned Special Advisor with global expertise to assist the Ugandan government and local authorities in the former Gulu conflict zone in northern Uganda. Mr. Peter Donde, a Kenyan national, is a veteran of special projects in Somalia, Sudan, Myanmar, Iraq, Indonesia, Tanzania and Kenya.
Some 2 million people have been displaced in northern Uganda due to conflict and civil war. The majority have lived for decades in poor conditions in some 200 camps in the region. The conflict in northern Uganda to depose President Yoweri Museveni began immediately after he took power in 1986. The conflict has been characterized by serious atrocities being committed against the local population forcing displacement of thousands of families. A ceasefire between Ugandan government and the Lord's Resistance Army rebels, which came into force in August 2006, has resulted in thousands of people being able to go back to their villages. But despite the desire to return home, Internally Displaced Persons remain cautious, preferring to spend days tilling their land but returning to the camps or transit sites at nights. This has prompted the Government to develop a Peace Recovery and Development Plan for Northern Uganda.
This was why the agency chose to send Mr. Donde, an expert with more than 20 years of field experience, much of in post-conflict societies. His work will be undertaken under the general framework of the Habitat Agenda and, the Millennium Development Goals under Uganda’s Consolidated Humanitarian Action Plan, the Consolidated Appeal, and its Peace Recovery and Development Plan. Mr. Donde will help those returning home integrate, help the authorities establish new means of offsetting future land problems and social exclusion, as well as help rebuild trust for longer term development.
UN-HABITAT will also work closely with Makerere University in promoting the production and use of soil bricks using a machine that is manually operated. The machine compresses a mixture of soil and cement into stabilised soil blocks for the construction of affordable housing and water tanks. The machine is an appropriate technology suitable for both rural and urban areas. Stabilised soil blocks are strong, economical blocks made from a mixture of soil and a small quantity of cement. Almost any soil types can be used except black cotton soil, the only variation being the cement: soil ratios depending on the shrinkage properties. One 50 Kg bag of cement can produce up to 150 blocks.