The Road to Resilience: Supporting USA for UNHCR Efforts to Strengthen Communities from Within

Astellas Global Health Foundation Grant Aims to Strengthen Community Resilience and Psychosocial Support for Refugees in Uganda

This World Refugee Day, we highlight our grant recipient USA for UNHCR the UN Refugee Agency, in its important work to build resilient communities that provide critical support for refugees in need.

Approximately 30 million internally displaced persons, refugees, and asylum-seekers reside in Africa, which is home to nearly one-third of the world's refugee population.1 Uganda hosts the largest refugee population in Africa, with more than 1.5 million refugees, many of whom fled war and persecution in South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).2

Refugees may face significant mental health challenges in conjunction with their exposure to stress during their displacement as well as other factors. A recent survey conducted by UNHCR and the World Bank in Uganda found rates of depression among refugees were significantly higher than among people living in host communities.3 However, in many refugee situations, specialized mental health professionals may not be present, and when available, may only reach a small proportion of those who need services.4

Children and families are among the 42,198 people in five Uganda settlements who are being reached by UNHCR training and education efforts supported by the Astellas Global Health Foundation.

The Astellas Global Health Foundation recently awarded a one-year grant to USA for UNHCR that addresses these needs by funding multiple UNHCR programming efforts to directly help a targeted 42,198 people and indirectly impact 84,396 people in five Uganda settlements. These include:

  • Strengthening mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) education and training for designated refugee community supporters. These refugee community supporters include diverse humanitarian staff, such as refugee crisis response team members, village health teams, volunteer psychosocial assistants and refugee welfare committee members.
  • Building capacity of community mental health organizations for suicide prevention and response, and aid mental health front-line workers to help build their own resilience.
  • Fostering community strengthening by improving access to mental health services with programming through: (1) awareness events, (2) advocacy in conjunction with calendar observances (e.g., World Mental Health Day), and (3) assistance referring individuals to clinical mental health services when needed.

"Finding ways to ensure access to mental health services for those who need it remains a serious concern in Uganda. This grant is making a difference in refugee settlements where the support is so urgently needed," said Carol Sparks, Head of External Engagement for UNHCR in Uganda. "With the funds from the Astellas Global Health Foundation, we are working to train 180 refugees who will conduct outreach and education to 2,500 refugees on mental health. This will make a real difference to a targeted 42,198 refugees living in five refugee settlements who are in desperate need of mental illness interventions."

Building community resilience is a core focus area for the Astellas Global Health Foundation, and the UNHCR support marks the first Foundation grant focused specifically on refugee communities since its formation in 2018.

"The Foundation embraced this opportunity to help make a positive difference for refugee communities facing such urgent needs," said Shingo Iino, Ph.D., president of the Astellas Global Health Foundation and Vice President, Sustainability, Astellas. "The opportunity to support UNHCR in improving mental health and psychosocial well-being through its education and training is an important part of our commitment to supporting lasting solutions to major health challenges that contribute to a more sustainable society."

Stay tuned for updates on this grant and other work the Foundation supports by visiting the AGHF website and following its social channels (LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook).

Visit the USA for UNHCR website to learn more about how UNHCR continues to play a central role in building refugee community resilience in Uganda.


1 UNHCR website. Accessed May 5, 2023. Link:

2 UNHCR website (Uganda Refugee Response Portal). Accessed May 5, 2023. Link:

3 UNHCR Africa website. Accessed May 5, 2023. Link:

4 UNHCR website. Accessed May 5, 2023. Link: