The Uganda operation is currently experiencing a loss of donor confidence and an erosion of trust. When donor requests for information cannot be shared in a timely manner it creates a perception of inefficiency and even ineffectiveness in the operation. UNHCR is under pressure to keep pace with new technologies to provide innovative solutions while maintaining demands for transparency and accountability. With the completion of the country wide verification exercise and the continued use of biometric registration tools and other modules from ProGres v4, a significant improvement in data quality is anticipated regarding refugee populations and assistance activities. Significant interoperability and information sharing is available with the use of UNHCR tools.
With the rapid growth of the operation in response to the recent influx, the large number of partners and multiple emergencies, information coherence is a continued challenge. Planning, consultation and decision making is not reliably evidence-based due to the current internal information sharing and information management processes. The Comprehensive Response requires evidence-based decision making to mobilize the government, humanitarian, development, private sector and academic stakeholders.
Transparent governance of information requirements needs to be established, including improved information sharing and adoption of accepted modern tools. Lack of maintenance of basic data for timely and effective donor reporting is impacting donor confidence in the effectiveness of the Uganda operation. Traditional siloed sector approaches are limiting fundraising opportunities at a time when donors are increasingly interested in cross cutting programming as the solution to creating additionalities thereby demonstrating value for money to their constituents. Difficulty in effectively communicating UNHCR progress and challenges in common/development terms is a risk to UNHCR’s ability to bridge the gap in the humanitarian development nexus.
Partners are increasingly focused on risk management and systems strengthening to mitigate fraud and corruption and are expressing a loss of assurance in UNHCR business processes. In response in 2018, a Joint Plan of Action Technical Task Force comprised of UN, donors and government was established to facilitate coordination on issues with shared accountability. Also, key donors such as USAID/PRM and DFID have both engaged consultants to conduct 3rd Party Monitoring and systems reviews, respectively, due to a lack of confidence in the operation. Expectations for information sharing and transparency continue to increase creating additional workload.
Despite all this activity to create confidence, the funding gap continues in Uganda. UNHCR is noting a new trend whereby donors are focusing on funding development/livelihoods and NGO consortiums while the humanitarian crisis persists. New ways of working are already emerging and UNHCR needs to develop a costed strategic approach that clearly defines the parameters of the initiatives it is engaged in such as EUTF, IKEA partnership, Dutch/ILO/UNICEF partnership, UNCDF/UNHCR partnership and UAE Strategy. Global lessons learned have demonstrated risks to donor relationships when project management methodologies and robust reporting are not put in place to ensure success in the inception phases on each initiative.