In October 2019, ACE celebrated the opening of the new Gulu branch in Uganda. Gulu is located in Northern Region of the country, approximately 340km by road north of Kampala, Uganda’s capital city.
The city of Gulu stands in a historically poor and disadvantaged part of Uganda which was severely affected by violence in the 1990s due to conflict between the Ugandan government and the rebel group, Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). Throngs of people fled to the city from the hinterland to take refuge there, out of fear of attacks from bandits and rebels. In 2006, the situation changed when the Ugandan government entered into peace talks with the rebel LRA in Juba, the capital of South Sudan. While the talks ended inconclusively, they did result in much sought-after peace in Northern Uganda.
Main street in Gulu, Uganda
Gulu has historically served as a home for the displaced, beginning in the 1960s with the influx and settlement of numerous Sudanese, Rwandan and Congolese refugees. Then again in the 1990s when it housed displaced Northern Ugandans fleeing the brutality of the LRA. Today, Gulu stands in close proximity to Bidibidi, the second largest refugee settlement in the world, after the Rohingya camp in Bangladesh. Bidibidi is home to a quarter of a million people, many of whom are refugees fleeing the conflict in South Sudan. Those who are fleeing the war are permitted to come to Uganda to live, farm and work freely. Many refugees are doing so in the once temporary camp settlement of Bidibidi which is slowly transforming into a liveable city with the necessary infrastructure and economy to sustain it.
ACE Gulu Team
The city of Gulu itself has also been witnessing a rejuvenation in recent years since the end of the conflict. Today, Gulu is a bustling commercial centre of trade. It is the marketing centre of the agricultural region of Northern Uganda where crops such as cotton, coffee, tea and tobacco are grown. Due to its close proximity to Bidibidi, Gulu is also a hotspot for humanitarian sector projects and organisations. We are excited to begin operations in a new Ugandan region, distributing to the host community while also exploring how the ACE 1 could make an impact in a humanitarian context.