Uganda is currently on lockdown due to the COVID-19 global pandemic which has had devastating effects including loss of lives across the world. In response to the global pandemic, the government of Uganda put directives to stop social gatherings of all kinds including public transport and all services except essentials were closed. All towns and villages are on lockdown. This has led to the disruption of the social order including access to medicines and all services including food.
The government made a plan to supply food relief for the Central business district people and refused to cover other vulnerable communities who were working from hand to mouth in other districts. However, the plan has not been fully implemented up-to-date and yet people who were hand to mouth earners across the country have started starving.
Before COVID-19, 38% of children under the age of 5 were malnourished and this percentage is expected to have increased because parents do not have food to feed their children.
Before COVID-19, more than 30 percent of the total population faced some level of chronic food insecurity. The causes of food insecurity in Uganda are multifaceted, often a result of poverty, landlessness, high fertility, natural disasters, high food prices, lack of education, and the fact that a majority of Ugandans depend on agriculture as a main source of income. This has tripled in the past three months because of the lockdown due to the global pandemic and also the changes in weather conditions of Uganda.
It is on that note that CEFROHT decided to reach out to the vulnerable people in its community and supply them with some food items. We introduced a communication line where the people in need of food assistance especially the vulnerable people call, get their details, and then deliver food to their doorstep using our delivery services.
It came to our Knowledge that the Persons living with HIV/AIDS were the hardest hit since many cannot easily get food yet they have to take medicines. This, therefore, means that their right to livelihood had been violated.
At CEFROHT, we have a village mobile food clinic which we came up with during the COVID-19 lockdown. This works in a such a way that the delivery personel collects food from the selected shops in the communities and delivers the food at the door step of specific persons and they acknowledge the receipt of the food items.
Groups of People that we have reached out to include:
- Child Headed Families
One of the households that the team from CEFROHT reached out to with food relief items is one which was headed by a 15-year-old girl called Suzan Akello. She was struggling to fend for her six siblings after their mother who used to vend fruits in Kampala was arrested more than a month ago for defying the COVID-19 curfew. Their mother was the sole breadwinner of the family since their father got crippled in an accident and was taken back to Gulu district in Northern Uganda
The team later proceeded to Kigo prisons where they thought the mother of these children were but were shocked to learn that she was convicted and sentenced to a three months imprisonment. CEFROHT Uganda and Women Probono Initiative will be pursuing livelihood justice for the family and the mother.
- The Elderly
Before COVID-19, many elderly people in Uganda struggled to bring in a reliable income and were vulnerable to living in poverty. Many lived in chronic ill health or had disabilities that limited their ability to lead independent lives and participate in their local communities.
On the other hand, countless older people have the responsibility of caring for orphaned grandchildren who have lost their parents to AIDS or other diseases.
CEFROHT team reached out to a number of the elderly in the community during the COVID-19 lockdown and it was very heartbreaking to find that they were surviving on black tea with their grandchildren
- Abandoned mothers
During this period of the COVID-19 lockdown, public transport and many other services were closed. This has rendered many people especially the men unemployed and therefore they cannot provide for their families. This has forced many men to leave their families because they cannot stand the sight of their starving children.
- Teenage mothers
Uganda has the highest rate of teenage pregnancy in Sub-Saharan Africa with over 25% pregnancies among teenagers registered every year. The 2014 Uganda population census faults this on the immense sexual reproductive health problems.
In the communities visited, most teenage mothers were surviving from the help of the well-wishers. The father of their children either had responsibilities elsewhere and could no longer support two families or they ran away.
- Unemployed youth
Youth comprise 78% of the population in Uganda, yet during this pandemic, their needs have been less prioritized and in fact, are being compromised. Youth is certainly struggling with socio-economic issues being experienced,
Uganda’s youth unemployment rate for the youth aged 18-30 is at 13.3% and this is expected to shoot higher as most employers are cutting on the costs of production to half and this, therefore, means that more people are becoming unemployed therefore are not able to support their families.
- People who used to work in the informal sector
83.5% of the Ugandan population aged between 15-29 work in informal jobs, and that figure is 10% higher for young women than men.
In this category the worst hit is the people in the transport sector, they were stopped about three months back and no hope of when they will resume work. Many are struggling to feed their families in this lockdown since most of their meager savings are fast spent.
Uganda is under lockdown to try to stop the devastating effects of the COVID-19. However, there are emerging challenges in communities like Gender-Based Violence and hunger which is on the rise and if not addressed immediately people will starve to death