REFOOTURE is setting up a living lab in Arua district, located in the West Nile region.
Uganda has a fast growing economy, like Kenya and Ethiopia. REFOOTURE is setting up a living lab in Arua district, located in the West Nile region. This region is experiencing an influx of refugees from South Sudan and the DRC. 25% of the population in the West Nile region are refugees. This has stimulated local markets for goods and services but also put pressure on the demand basic services and food. It places also a burden on natural resources such as land, forestry and water. Thereby increasing the need for looking into innovations that can stimulate regenerative, inclusive food systems. About 80% of the households in Arua district depend on subsistence farming as a main source of livelihood (UBOS, 2017). However, it does not provide sustainable livelihoods to the rural population nor adequately supplies food to the more urban population, in for instance Arua city, which is largely dependent on remittances. Managing the impact of the growing population on the natural resources is challenging in a region that is already experiencing the impacts of climate change. One of the main universities in Arua, Muni University, has recently established an Agriculture faculty; it is the first and only local agriculture faculty. The new faculty aspires to become a key centre for knowledge and innovation supporting agricultural and environmental development of the region. Together with businesses, investors, NGOs, and research organisations the faculty will develop a West Nile Living Lab of thinkers, enablers and doers working together on innovations fostering regenerative and inclusive food systems. This will complement the university’s knowledge hub function for the West Nile Development Association, an umbrella organisation of the government districts in the region. The university plays an important role in community development, which is part of its mandate being a public institute, and it has a rich network of development partners.