Center for Youth Innovation and Experiential Learning: Nakivale Refugee Settlement, Uganda

girl looking up at tree.

Unlocking the Future: Empowering Nakivale Refugee Youth with Innovation and Learning. In Nakivale Refugee Settlement, the spirit of innovation is alive, with youth actively engaged in agriculture and vocational projects.

Project context

Nakivale youth are involved in agriculture and vocational activities that generate support for themselves and their families. In collaboration with the Experiential Learning Network (ELN) from the University at Buffalo, KBTN recently conducted a survey to explore youth interests related to Experiential Learning and possible engagement. The survey revealed dozens of active projects throughout the three zones including raising crops, livestock, tailoring, arts and poetry, food preparation and IT to name just a few. In addition to active projects, participants shared many past projects that have failed due to lack of funding, expertise, and leadership. Group and village leaders shared overwhelming support (100% of those interviewed) for the idea of a center that would provide training and resources to improve existing programs while introducing new technologies and opportunities for groups and individual youth to develop entrepreneurship skills along with specialized knowledge. All groups emphasized the need for strong leadership, support and sustainability to ensure success and sustainability

From the survey it was clear that there was interest in Experiential Learning and opportunities to offer training and support related to youth agriculture and vocational projects. A follow-up survey revealed priority projects and needs that will serve as the foundation for SDG Project Challenges. They include (by Zone)

Base Camp

Participating group leaders identified Tailoring and Crafts as priority projects along with IT as an emerging area of focus (despite the 15 members only having 1 computer). They indicated that crafts were already being made and sold with goods ready to share with markets. However, the youth groups needed support developing external markets as well as help with supplies and materials including additional sewing machines. They also requested general entrepreneurship and leadership development.

students gathered across table.


Participating group leaders identified Poultry and Goat Rearing as priority projects with a strong foundation already in place. In this zone there is sufficient land for grazing and adequate pasture for animals. These activities also provide a strong alternative to growing crops which is becoming more difficult since there is growing competition for land as is where all the new refugee entrants are settled. There are ready markets in and outside camp and favorable government conditions. Members of this zone already have knowledge and experience although they need training on breeding and help securing superior breeds of chickens. They also need shelters for goats along with general entrepreneurship and leadership development.


Participants from Juru identified BeeKeeping and Vegetable Growing as priority activities. For beekeeping they have many flowers and bees and ready markets. However, they need training on more modern and effective beekeeping practices to increase production of honey and other products. For vegetable growing, their zone is near Lake Nakivale and the land is fertile and open since  people are not settled on the shores but reserved for vegetable growing. They have ready markets within and outside  Nakivale and are already selling in nearby Kenya and South Sudan. They need access to materials like water pumps,tools and agricultural chemicals in addition to seeds and farming equipment.

person farming by picking vegetable from ground.

Universal needs

Across all zones, groups requested support for entrepreneurship, business skills, leadership development and computer programming skills as well as a permanent building in base camp for activities like exhibitions,meetings,seminars,as well as the operation site for IT and tailoring groups.

Project opportunities

Students are invited to engage in the following activities. Individual and group projects will feature close collaboration with the KBTN team and will be customized based on student skills and interests, focusing on the following:

  • Help to identify trainers and training programs for entrepreneurship, leadership and computer programming
  • Develop a brand and marketing materials to promote new center
  • Help identify external markets for craft projects,tailoring products and potentially beekeeping products (like beeswax and honey)
  • Develop a business plan for the new center that will aim at return on investment for the sustainability of the center and all its projects
  • Identify grants and prepare for funding opportunities
  • Other activities as proposed 

Project details

Timing, eligibility and other details
Length of commitment Variable
Start time Fall, Spring, Summer
Level of collaboration Variable
Benefits Digital Badge
Who is eligible Students of all backgrounds and majors invited to apply

Core partners

  • KBTN (KYETE BIINGI TAI NYEME) A refugee-led community-based organization in Nakivale Refugee Settlement Camp. Isingiro District, Uganda

Project mentor

Mara Huber

Associate Dean, Undergraduate Research and Experiential Learning; Director, Experiential Learning Network

127 Capen Hall

Phone: (716) 829-2834


SUNY SDG Project Challenge

This project is for students interested in the SUNY SDG Project Challenge.

Express Interest

  1. Email ELN with letter of interest at to express your interest and get approval to work on the project. (Here are helpful tips on how to send this email)
  2. After you send your email expressing your interest, click the button to schedule a meeting to discuss the project. (Please be sure to include your letter of interest when scheduling the event)


UNSDG, ELN, SUNY, Project Challenge, IITG