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Xavier Project: Tamuka Hubs. Community Centres and Libraries for Refugees in Kampala. (update 01/07/15 see prototype, budget and video)

Five hubs in Kampala will provide safe spaces and learning opportunities for refugees so that they can integrate into Ugandan life.

Photo of Edmund Page
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Tamuka Hubs will provide safe learning spaces for refugees in Uganda who currently have nowhere to meet and socialise, share experiences and gain the skills necessary for them to integrate into Ugandan life. The hubs will be ‘owned’ by the communities themselves in terms of the creative direction they take. However, Xavier Project will provide different levels of support to the hubs dependant on the communities applying and graduating through different tiers of engagement to achieve each output. In this way the project is self-piloting as resources will only be expended on achieving hubs. Refugee groups who prove a level of organisational structure and integration will be provided with a space (Output One), followed by infrastructure and learning material (Output Two) and finally dedicated staffing (Output Three). The learning material includes library resources, computers and internet and full access to a personalised learning platform with bespoke courses covering languages, finance, social media, graphic design and more. Staff in Output Three will add professional guidance to this learning and run courses according to the demand identified by the refugee management committees.


This idea will primarily benefit refugees living in Kampala, but the idea will promote local integration so in that respect Ugandans will also directly benefit from the idea. Currently there are around 80,000 refugees living in Kampala and many of them are not able to access the opportunities that would enable them to integrate into Uganda life for various reasons including finance and xenophobia. Our hubs will promote inclusiveness, gender equality and solidarity among nationalities.


For a group to get to Output One, there are three clear steps that must be taken

1. Xavier Project makes a presentation to a community of refugees living in Kampala on the Tamuka Hub opportunity.

2. In communities with relevant levels of interest a group of refugees converge to form a management committee.

3. Groups would be encouraged to apply for Output One by displaying their achievements so far and identifying a suitable space for their Tamuka Hub. Xavier Project has already run two prototypes and has two groups successfully running at Output Three.

Update 28/06/15: On 24th June we held another prototyping session to start recruiting our first management committees of refugees to start aiming for output one. We invited 24 refugees from three different nationalities and four divisions of Kampala. We started the session with an opening exercise in which the refugees looked at the same questions we had asked in the needs assessment, but this time they could see the results and were asked to come up with responses. It was reassuring to see that the solutions mirrored our own so we went on to give a detailed presentation about the opportunities and the outputs described above. We then left contact details and asked management groups to volunteer to open a Tamuka Hub in their area.

Update 30/06/15 Two days after the prototyping session two groups approached us. We have already met with the first one from Katwe it went very well. We have attached the minutes.


63% of refugees in our needs assessment (*EDIT* see ATTACHMENT) conducted in April and May 2015 claimed that they did not have a safe space to meet other refugees as a community. 65% could not afford to travel to local educational opportunities. For these reasons 92% of refugees in Kampala would value a new local community centre where they could learn and share experiences. 19% of graduates of Tamuka courses from our prototype have reported that the skills they learnt directly contributed to giving them employment opportunities within three months of graduation. This is encouraging given that Uganda currently has 64% youth unemployment – the highest rate in Africa. 85% of hub members asserted that they had been able to learn about their rights and discover opportunities that could help improve their lives. Our idea has changed from the prototypes when we went straight in at Output Two and we realised we needed to give more creative control and ownership to the management committees.


Xavier Project is running two hubs which both inspired this idea. We have had many successes out of these hubs including running courses which nearly 1000 refugees stated helped them to provide better livelihoods. However, this idea is different in that we want it to be even more human centred. Whereas our initial hubs were always staffed by Xavier Project staff we hope these new hubs will be run by management committees made up of refugees (and some non-refugees) who will receive training and support from our full time staff. Our hubs are the only examples we know of where refugees can learn specifically and creatively about the reality of their situation alongside gaining relevant skills.


We will refer back to the inspiration and ideation phases of this idea when implementing the idea and running regular needs assessments and looking for integrated digital and traditional M&E opportunities and this will inform funding decisions. Funding would be used for renting safe spaces (output one) providing resources (output two) and finally providing expert staff (output three). We would benefit from Design Support to help us use the limited resources to the greatest impact and see how we can best use additional external funding that we raise. However, management committees will understand that funding is contingent on availability and successful graduation through the outputs.


These hubs will be designed to specifically take cultural factors into consideration. This is partly a response to our initial hubs which had low engagement from women and a median age of 26 We will encourage women only activities and activities aimed at specific age groups such as older refugees and youth. The hubs will be designed for integration by encouraging involvement from Ugandans on the management committees. Most importantly, being refugee ‘run’ these hubs will only provide skills and experiences that are relevant to refugees, both in terms of understanding their situations as refugees and gaining the skills necessary for them to live fulfilled lives in their new communities.


We do not have space here to copy all our answers below. In summary, the process of researching and learning on this platform has helped us make this idea more human centred and more inclusive.

The idea is more human centred than it was at the start of this process for three reasons: firstly we ran several needs assessments and prototyping sessions which helped us to prioritise not only the needs but also the ambitions of the refugees we are working with. Secondly we have learnt through prototyping that hub members will be more motivated, focused and efficient with resources if they have creative control over the direction of the hubs and the relevance of the learning. Thirdly, we reduce the risks by implementing a graduation process through the outputs which is contingent on the performance and aims of the management committees so in effect we put the success of the project in their hands. Investment will therefore be incremental and mirror this progress.

The idea has become more inclusive again after running prototyping sessions and needs assessments. We have learnt that today there is still a gap when it comes to women, girls and certain communities accessing safe learning opportunities in Kampala. We have adapted our idea to cater for this. For example, our recruitment will be designed to be more inclusive before management committees are even set up, and then graduation through the outputs will depend on appropriate levels of inclusiveness.

SKILL SHARE (optional)

Xavier Project uses education as a tool to improve the lives of refugees and many of our staff are teachers. At Output Three our staff will be experts in relevant fields. Refugees have claimed that the virtual learning platform at Output Two is relevant and exciting because they can learn at their own pace and engage in material that interests them. It is also very resource efficient. We have relied on open source software so we need advice here to provide the best possible learning experience.


We believe that everyone has the right to equal opportunities and protection wherever they live and whatever their background. Globally this right is denied to refugees and we use education to change this. We operate as an NGO in Kenya (where we are implementing partners of UNHCR) and Uganda.


  • Yes, I have implementation capacity and am interested in and able to make this idea real in my community.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Richard

Hi Edmund, thank you for this! Your insights from the prototyping session are really important at this stage. It is great to see that you have taken the time to provide insight. I have a suggestion. Can you please indicate what you wanted to learn from the first prototype? What is it you wanted to test? What was the prototype?With regards to the learnings, rather than saying "the feedback received was positive", clearly articulate what it is you learnt and how it informed your assumptions.

From the second prototype, it seems you wanted to learn whether the urban refugees would be willing to self organise and run their own Tamuka Hubs, right? Can you clarify on why the "Needs assessment exercise" approach was taken? From the description of the second prototype, it seems to me not a prototyping exercise but a research exercise to further validate whether your idea of Tamuka hubs would be relevant to the urban refugees. If it is, can you further clarify what the second prototype actually is?

Photo of Kate

Hello Richard,

Thank you for your questions on the prototyping process we have been going through.

Our first prototype session on 24th June was purely to test and learn about the fundamental principle of our idea, which is to make the hubs community led and to handover creative control to the refugees and community that will be using the space. Therefore the hypothesis we were testing was:

‘Refugees with limited or no access to a safe learning space will show interest and provide suggestions on how their community, supported by Xavier Project, could set up a hub with the view of forming management committees to facilitate this.’

To do this we needed to pilot the process of gathering members of the community, conducting an engagement exercise and then presenting the idea of the hubs to them to generate interest in setting up management committees. We were interested in the reaction of the attendees and feedback that they could provide. For this reason, we started with a group discussion on safe learning spaces and accessibility.

The prototype was a community meeting led by Xavier Project staff. The reason we prototyped this stage over any other stage of the process was that it enabled us to have direct contact with potential beneficiaries who, of course, can give the most accurate and beneficial suggestions and feedback so that we are able to develop and improve the process.

As already mentioned under the ‘Prototype’ section our learning’s include:

• A larger turn up than expected
• An overwhelming number of suggestions of what could be included in the hub. We learnt that there are many other avenues and activities that the community would like then originally assumed
• We also learnt that the idea did not appeal or raised barriers for women and elderly participants as the number that attended was low compared to men aged 22 – 28

Yes, you are correct about the second prototype to an extent. We were interested to find out if our presentation and community meeting could lead into an actual management committee. Here we were very much testing the level of interest and if this interest could be translated into a functioning group of people. It depends how you define prototype but I believe it was a prototype as the group of people are our first model and their actions and the way the meeting was held has allowed us to analyse this stage of the process. I agree it also had a research side to it too; surely these go hand in hand.

The ‘needs assessment exercise’ approach was taken as these projects are completely community run and used by the community of the management and therefore there would be absolutely no point in trying to set up a hub where it is not wanted/needed. Conducting the research reinforced our assumptions that these centres would be an asset to these areas of Kampala and therefore we would not be wasting time or resources.

The second prototype allows us to see the interaction and formation of a management committee and the dynamics involved in this. The session on 28th June provided us with this.

Things we learnt from prototype 2:

• People arrived very well prepared with preprepared notes, this taught us that we could find people who were really thinking about their individual contribution to the process and that this handover of creative control and management will hopefully come with ease
• The attendees wanted to immediately create roles within the committee. This showed us that having these structures in place could make the process more efficient and ‘user friendly’

I hope that clears things up a bit!


Photo of Edmund

Hi Richard,

Just to add to what Kate said, perhaps confusingly we have been referring to our existing hubs in Kampala (and even what we have learnt in Nairobi) as prototypes too, because they very much inspired this idea. We have developed them as mentioned below and learnt from our experiences but we also hope we will be able to build on the successes we have had in these initial hubs in terms of providing safe spaces for refugees to learn relevant skills, enjoy learning, and share experiences and resources with each other.

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