Gihembe is a camp of Congolese refugees located in Gicumbi District of Rwanda, home to 12,904 residents. American Refugee Committee (ARC) manages Shelter/Construction, WASH, Health, Nutrition, and Livelihoods/Economic Recovery sectors in Gihembe.
ARC provides shelter and construction services for Gihembe, helping restore dignity to refugees by supporting the construction, reconstruction, rehabilitation, and transformation of shelters. ARC also maintains communal infrastructure in the camp, including roads, common buildings, and bridges. This is accomplished through engaging refugees to rehabilitate/transform their own shelters using vouchers, as well as providing refugees with income through engagement in casual labor in other shelter/construction activities. Empowering refugees through the shelter rehabilitation voucher program has meant that ARC has surpassed its annual rehabilitation target of 50 shelters, resulting in 64 shelters total being rehabilitated.
Water in Gihembe is provided through a contract with WASAC (the national water authority). ARC is responsible for monitoring the quality of the water supply and water infrastructure, rehabilitating infrastructure within the camp when necessary. This ensures a hygienic supply of 17.4 liters of water per person per day.
ARC also constructs, rehabilitates, and maintains sanitation infrastructure, including latrines and showers. Maintaining sanitary environmental conditions according to SPHERE standards includes managing waste disposal/removal, regular spraying against insects, regular scheduled cleaning and disinfecting of latrines/showers, and hygiene sensitization among refugees.
ARC provides health and nutrition services for all residents of Gihembe Camp. Health and nutrition activities include OPD/IPD services, obstetrics/maternal care, vaccinations, laboratory testing/screening, family planning services, community health education, and transfers to local hospitals for secondary and tertiary care. Currently the crude mortality rate is 0.23 deaths per 1,000 persons per month (target is <1) and the under-5 mortality rate is 0.5 deaths per 1,000 persons per month (target is <0.75)
In addition to basic health services, ARC provides HIV/AIDS services, including testing/screening, anti-retroviral treatment and counseling for Persons Living with HIV (PLHIVs), Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) services, and community sensitization on HIV and other STIs.
Nutrition services include screening for cases of malnutrition, therapeutic treatment of malnutrition, and fresh food distribution/blanket feeding for children under two, pregnant/lactating mothers, and PLHIVs . ARC also works in food security, supporting beneficiaries through the establishment of kitchen gardens, organizing mother-to-mother groups to disseminate best nutrition practice, and community education on healthy diets using music, theater, cooking demonstrations, and sporting events.
To improve the livelihoods and economic recovery of refugees, ARC uses the SAIL (Stepped Approach to Improve Livelihood) approach, which uses an engaging frameworks to promote skill development through vocational trainings, promote engagement with Rwandan financial institutions, support refugees in developing income-generating cooperatives and enterprises, increase financial knowledge, increasing savings to help refugees handle economic shocks. Currently, Gihembe has 57 Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs) with 1,732 members total; participants use invested savings to fund start-up enterprises for further income-generation activities.
WASH, Shelter, and Health activities are supported through the engagement of committees comprised of refugees in order to ensure beneficiary commitment and input on design, planning, and implementation.