Uganda is one of the top refugee-hosting countries in the world, with a protracted refugee situation and ongoing influxes of refugees from neighbouring countries. As of January 2020, the country hosted nearly 1.4 million refugees, mostly from South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Burundi, with smaller populations from elsewhere in the east Africa region.1 The majority of refugees currently in Uganda fled to the country in the past four years, but the country has hosted refugee populations for decades, with an open-door approach and progressive refugee laws. Despite the range of origins, the varying lengths of displacement, the different exposure to protection risks and the different levels of income of refugees, past assessments (see page 12 for a list of key assessments and findings) have shown that the needs among the refugee population are consistently high across the country. While several studies of refugees in Uganda explored factors related to vulnerability, there was a lack of consensus within the response on the definition of vulnerability, which factors affect levels of vulnerability across the population, and how information on those factors could be used to direct humanitarian assistance in a more effective manner.
To support the basic needs approach (see page 14 for a description of the basic needs approach), the Uganda Assessment Technical Working Group (ATWG) determined there was a need to address the lack of understanding related to vulnerability affecting refugees’ capacity to meet essential needs among the population and establish an evidence-base to inform adaptive response modalities based on the specific type of vulnerability.