Strengthening Capacity for Urban Migration Management and Improving Migrant Livelihoods in Jinja City, Uganda 

A pilot project of the Cities and Migration programme

Project: Strengthening Capacity for Urban Migration Management and Improving Migrant Livelihoods in Jinja City, Uganda 

Implementing Partners: The Jinja Municipal City Council, Makerere University, and the slum dweller organisation ACTogether

Location: Jinja, Uganda

Duration: December 2019 – November 2021


The Strengthening Capacity for Urban Migration Management and Improving Migrant Livelihoods in Jinja City, Uganda project builds knowledge on rural-urban migrants in Jinja and its effects on poor host communities. The Jinja Municipal City Council, in close collaboration with citizen representatives, will design and implement a migration management strategy which primarily focuses on the economic inclusion of poor migrant and non-migrant households through financial inclusion and investment in viable enterprises, asset building, housing upgrading and access to basic urban infrastructure, utilities and services. 


The second largest city in Uganda, Jinja, has a population of slightly over 71,000, according to the 2014 census. However, the city administration estimates that Jinja’s current daytime population swells to 400,000 when other groups of people in the city are counted: unregistered residents, people who reside just outside the official municipal boundary, and those who commute on a daily basis to do business or use city services. 

Jinja has long attracted migrants seeking economic opportunities. During the 1960s and 1970s, it was an important industrial town, attracting many labour migrants. When the industrial base collapsed in the late 1970s and 1980s, many of the migrants remained in Jinja. Since then, rural-urban labour migration has continued, with additional people seeking protection from civil strife or environmental disasters, especially in the Karimajong and Teso sub-region of northeastern Uganda. 

Today, migrants born outside Jinja or Uganda make up over half of the city’s population. The majority are women and youth living in poverty, either unemployed or underemployed in low-paying informal activities such as market vendors and boda-boda riders. Most migrants remain undocumented and live together with the city’s existing poor population in the Karamoja, Kibugambata, Makenke, and Soweto slums. The Jinja Municipal Council needs data, knowledge and strategies to support access to livelihoods and decent housing for both its migrant and host populations. 


Jinja market. Photo: Cities Alliance


Result 1:  Improved Knowledge on Urban Migration in Jinja

This project will build knowledge on the migration situation, trends, challenges and opportunities in Jinja, and how they impact the development of a sustainable, resilient city. 

It will produce an urban migration profile and capacity needs assessments that will inform the Municipal Council on how to integrate migrants into the urban economy. All analytical work will include a gender perspective to better meet the needs of the many women who make up the city’s poor migrant population.

Result 2: A Strategy for Participatory City Migration Management 

The Jinja Municipal Council will use the information obtained through the project to develop a strategy to improve planning and decision making on migration, with the overarching goal of including rural-urban migrants and the urban poor into the city economy.

The strategy development process will bring all stakeholders (local authorities, academics, slum dwellers, migrants, local businesses and media) together to develop a shared vision for how the city should manage migration. This process will include a series of trainings and technical inputs to increase stakeholders’ awareness and understanding of how migration can be leveraged for the benefit of all Jinja’s residents. It will also feature annual national urban migration forums and bi-annual city and division workshops to facilitate exchange of knowledge, ideas and best practices. 

Result 3: Operationalising Economic Inclusion and Improved Housing

Once the data on migration has been collected and a joint vision for the city developed by stakeholders is formulated, the project will support migrant and poor host communities to access economic opportunities and decent housing. A primary focus is on financial inclusion, which will allow poor residents to build financial literacy and access saving and credit schemes to drive investments into local small enterprises. 

The project will establish a partnership with a financial institution to provide community-based finance schemes that will service 5,000 boda boda riders and 5,000 market vendors. In addition, a community housing upgrading scheme will benefit 2,000 slum dwellers, both migrants and long-term residents, to finance more decent housing. Women and youth will make up about half of the beneficiaries of both schemes. To complement these schemes, the Municipality of Jinja will emphasise improving basic services such as electricity connection, solar power, water, and waste management in the two slums of Kibugambata and Soweto.