Lock down - perspectives from Uganda part 1
Elspeth Dugdale | May 28, 2020
As we start to come out of lock down in Europe, we compare how life looks like in Uganda during the current Covid-19 crisis. In part 1 we asked two of our key partners in Lukomera, to give us their personal perspectives on the current situation:
From Director Charles:
We are all well in my family. We are utilizing this time in our garden to grow more food to prepare for post Covid 19 lock down. The lock down has taken its toll on the community, to the extent that there is a lot of domestic violence as men become violent when their wives or children ask for money to buy food. A few families have actually broken down as couples separated.
Thank God that unlike in other communities where deaths have already occurred due to domestic violence, Lukomera only has some minor injuries. I have, on a few cases, reached some families to diffuse tension before violence erupted. I didn't know that lack of food could take such dimensions.
The food support from ServeDirect was very timely and saved many families. I have not heard of any violence since the distribution of the food aid.
The major worry is that even after the lock down it will be difficult for small businesses to restart as they have consumed all their capital. Many who used to work as taxi and bus guides will have no jobs as the president has already permanently abolished that. They are also worried on how they will afford to take children back to school in terms of fees and or requirements when time comes.
Many people here live in rented homes and rent has now accumulated to 2 or 3 months for some people and they will have to deal with that first or else many will be evicted and will become homeless. A few evictions actually took place. I persuaded one landlord to save two tenants, pending the lifting of the lock down.
Parents and schools including us at WTA are worried about the safety of the students when they come back to school next month as the number of positive cases increases . At WTA, we are also worried that parents may not pay fees and that will make operation very difficult for the administration. We have now surrendered all to God to prevail and guide us on what exactly we should be doing to go through the term if we start any way.
Wobulenzi Town Academy Headteacher Benard (above) reports that;
Food handouts are mainly only given in Kampala. However, distributors sometimes buy cheap food,(old beans and poor quality posho), but may claim expenses for high quality goods. Only a fraction reaches those in need and rarely in more distant areas like Luwero, so life is so difficult. Small businesses, small shops and restaurants are the ones to suffer.
Many people currently lack enough food to eat. Many people are fighting for food distribution. Life is so complicated for the poor people. The hospitals should be equipped with the necessary equipment to treat Covid 19, but there are not enough masks, testing kits, or trained staff or enough centres. We should accept that the virus is here but this is not happening and is so so disappointing.
Regarding the education sector, we hope that candidates (exam taking students) may come back in June, but this is also so complicated… to have the school open but only really for 2 classes. The number of students back will be very limited. How do we collect fees, organise social distancing? For example with the two S4 (O level) streams, we have to divide them into 4 streams to keep the distance. There are so many issues… it will be very complicated.