Refugee Health and Well-being

Drs. Jim Jensen and Chris Lowry meeting with representatives from the Danish Refugee Council in Uganda.

Drs. Jim Jensen and Chris Lowry meeting with representatives from the Danish Refugee Council in Uganda

Today, continued conflict in South Sudan has forced over 1,291,294 people to seek refuge in neighboring countries, like Uganda, making Uganda the largest refugee settlement in the world.  Despite the Democratic Republic of Congo's slow recovery from a nearly decade long war, many areas are still plagued by violence and displacement. 

Our Working Solutions

Continued conflict in South Sudan has forced over 1,291,294 people to seek refuge in neighboring countries. Uganda, known for its progressive refugee laws, hosts a majority of the refugees from South Sudan, providing refugees and asylum seekers with right to work, freedom of movement, and access to social services. The protracted nature of conflict and the scarcity of resources in settlements necessitates study on land use, settlement planning, and shelter design. The current work focuses on finding innovative methods to build durable shelters, hydrological study, technical support for iron removal, sanitation in flood-prone areas, land-use and site planning strategies, and WaSH Behavior Change Research in the Adjumani settlement of Uganda. 
In the past two years, Uganda has witnessed an influx of nearly one million refugees who have settled in the sparsely populated northwestern region of the country. This rapid population growth has created high demand for clean water resources. Water supply has been unable to keep pace with demand because the fractured rock aquifers underlying the region often produce low yielding wells. To facilitate management of groundwater resources it is necessary to quantify the spatial distribution of groundwater.

In the spring of 2017, senior architecture students in the School of Architecture and Planning at the University at Buffalo, working with Professor Korydon Smith, took on this global challenge. Below is a sample of their work, which both frames the challenges of refugee resettlement and explores solutions for housing amidst the complex situation in Uganda.

The 2015 Lancet Commission on Global Surgery’s seminal work on surgical care in resource-poor settings identified several key themes related to surgical care in low- and middle-income countries. However, this report did not directly address deficits in pediatric surgical care. In many low- and middle-income countries, patients less than 15 years old comprise nearly 50% of the population, therefore, addressing the pediatric population is essential (Ozgediz et alToobaie et alBickler et al).

Our Team

Faculty Fellows

James N. Jensen

Professor; Director of Undergraduate Studies, Environmental Engineering

Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering

232 Jarvis Hall

Phone: 716-645-4007


Christopher Lowry

Assistant Professor


413 Cooke Hall

Phone: 716-645-4266


David H. Rothstein

Associate Professor

Department of Surgery

219 Bryant St

Phone: 718-878-7301


Kory Smith

Founding Co-Lead, Community for Global Health Equity; Professor and Chair

Department of Architecture

Phone: 716-575-2874


Lisa Vahapo─člu

Program Coordinator

Community for Global Health Equity

218 Hayes Hall

Phone: 716-829-2168


Student Associates

Nicole Little.

Nicole Little

Graduate Student; Graduate Assistant

Architecture and Urban and Regional Planning and Community for Global Health Equity


Sadi Dhakhwa

UB Alumna

M. Architecture

Ryan Frederiks

UB Alumna

MS. Geology