29 July 2019

Brunel University London organizes field trip to refugee settlement camp in Zambia

In partnership with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Brunel University London (United Kingdom), a member institution of the United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI), organized a four-week field trip in Zambia from 31 May to 30 June 2019, to help students develop their understanding of the multi-dimensional challenges associated with living in the Mayukwayukwa refugee and resettlement community, and gain hands-on experience for the livelihood development projects that emerged out of their study.

The trip began with an orientation in Siavonga and a visit to the Lake Kariba area. Driving North through the Copperbelt Province to the border of Democratic Republic of Congo at Chililabombwe, students engaged with market sellers and learned how goods flow in and out of Zambia.

The students then headed to Solwezi for a three-day training in the refugee site of Meheba, hosted by the International Labour Organisation (ILO). During the training, students worked directly with Meheba’s agricultural officers and farmers to explore the issues they faced and develop potential solutions. They also met with officials of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and received feedback on their project ideas.

Finally arriving in Mayukwayukwa, the students were dropped off for five nights of homestay with locals, during which they visited the bulking centre, agricultural sites, fish farms and bee keepers. After that, they camped on the banks of the Kafue river in Itezhi tezhi district for a week-long retreat, to refine their projects and prepare for their presentations at the United Nations building in Lusaka. They had the opportunity to encounter wildlife in the early mornings and watch the sunset on the Kafue River.

On 27 June, the students presented to a group of ministers and UNDP officials their findings and ideas for developing and implementing resettlements projects. Through this field trip, they gained first-hand experience on improving the livelihoods of refugees and their host communities in Zambia, and developed creative solutions to community issues with local and national stakeholders on the ground.

“We all had to learn so much in an academic area we had never come across with the Zambia project, but in learning and delivering over the past month we believe in ourselves so much more," students said in their post-trip survey, “the greatest challenge is to keep delivering to such standards especially with the Zambia project where ultimately the goal is to better real lives in the real world.”