Uganda continues dealing with economic and social hardships caused by the coronavirus. We will regularly update the situation in Uganda and how the circumstances there are pushing many families even closer than before to the economic brink.
The economy is open once again, and our borrowers are able to conduct their small businesses. However, some restrictions and some fall out from the countrywide shutdowns remain and challenge their jobs. One of the effects is that inflation is growing, making it difficult for our borrowers to sell their wares and to buy daily necessities for their families. Thus, they are caught between a tightening of the income and increasing costs.
In addition, schools are still not fully open. The government had previously announced that all schools would re-open in November. That target date has now been moved to January as the government ensures that all teachers are vaccinated against COVID-19 before fully re-opening schools. Their priority is to vaccinate the teachers and staff of medical schools first. Thus, elementary and secondary school-age children will have tragically lost two years of education by next year’s re-opening date. In addition, because children are now deprived of the lunch they would normally receive at school, food insecurity at home has increased.
The COVID vaccine continues to make its way to Uganda, albeit in small quantities. The BBC reports that “The government plan is to vaccinate 4.8 million of its priority group, including health workers and teachers, by December this year. The full re-opening of the economy is pegged on vaccinations.” In a country of 44 million people, much more needs to be done. We are fortunate to have obtained the vaccine for all our staff members, who are especially at risk, as they regularly interact with large numbers of borrowers.
While daily life continues to be fragile and at risk in a country where 90% of the population lives in dire poverty, there is some light on the horizon with the re-opening of the economy. With the aid of our incredible supporters, The Greater Contribution has continued to operate all our microloan and affiliated programs. By the end of the year, we will have brought another 800 disadvantaged women into the program, continuing our work toward a better life for all Ugandans.