Uganda continues dealing with economic and social hardships caused by the coronavirus. We will regularly provide an update on the situation in Uganda, and how the circumstances there are pushing many families even closer than before to the economic brink.
In June, with a rampant increase in COVID-19 cases in Uganda, the government again implemented a countrywide shutdown with the types of restrictions we describe below. As is common around the world, Uganda’s economy and people experienced extreme hardships as a result. Fortunately, the shutdown resulted in cases of the virus declining and by August, many of the restrictions were lifted. Some restrictions remain and the situation is still unpredictable.
- Inter-district bans are lifted which means our borrowers can travel from one district to another to both sell their wares and to purchase merchandise. A very good development.
- Vehicles such as buses can only operate at half capacity to allow for social distancing. This triggers an increase in costs which get passed on to the consumer.
- This affects our borrowers as they use public transportation to transport their inventory to and from the markets and as well as from their sources.
- Group meetings can be a maximum of 20 people.
- This severely affects our program as our repayment sessions are typically held with 100+ women, therefore our teams will have to go to the field, on average, 5 times as often. Since we have 9 loan centers, this will significantly increase fuel and other costs for each center.
- We will be hiring new volunteers to assist the staff. Reminder, in Uganda, volunteers are paid a small stipend.
Most restrictions have been lifted and our borrowers are gradually re-building their businesses! We are able to continue our loan program and support the remarkable women borrowers who never give up and are proving their resilience daily.
The Ugandan government has imposed several restrictions to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, including marketplace closures and travel bans. These are wise moves, considering the country’s still-developing health care system and a population that is vulnerable to health challenges due to chronic malnourishment.
While these restrictions may be partially eased in the coming weeks or months, the unpredictable nature of the coronavirus makes it difficult to know when life will begin returning to normal. Through it all, though, The Greater Contribution remains active and committed to helping ensure better, more fulfilling lives for Uganda’s families.
- Public marketplaces have been shuttered, meaning two things: 1) families have nowhere to buy food and other essentials, and 2) many of our borrowers are not earning a living and are finding it difficult to support their families. In the words of one of our Ugandan staffers, “No business means limited livelihood.”
- Public transportation, including the ubiquitous boda vehicles, has been banned, making the movement of goods and people extremely difficult between villages and within cities.
- Schools are closed, meaning youngsters are staying home, where they need love, attention – and food – from families that suddenly have less money than before.
- Our peer counselors are reporting a greater frequency of domestic violence and mental health challenges.
- Even before this crisis, hospitals and the health care system were woefully inadequate to address even basic needs. So social distancing and hygienic practices are lifesaving actions.
The Greater Contribution is acutely aware of the new challenges, and both its Ugandan and U.S.-based staff are taking several actions and precautions to help families weather this crisis and ensure our efforts to empower women and lift families out of poverty continue uninterrupted:
- With the extreme increase in cases due to the Delta variant and the lack of vaccine in Uganda, we are encouraging our borrowers to stay home and practice social distancing to help prevent the virus’ transmission.
- Our staff has organized informational sessions with medical professionals so our peer counselors can educate residents of remote villages about the virus and its transmission.
- Our Ugandan staffers are working from home. And our U.S.-based staff, board of directors and volunteers continue performing their same essential functions while using the power of technology to overcome the loss of our usual personal interactions and gatherings.
- With the unfortunate practice of price gouging pushing the cost of hand sanitizer outside many families’ ability to pay for it, our staff and partners are driving as many five hours to purchase the ingredients to manufacture and distribute their own safe, effective sanitizer.
Thank You for Your Concern
Our efforts in Uganda are more important than ever before, and The Greater Contribution remains dedicated to providing uninterrupted assistance to disadvantaged women and families, and your gifts help us continue fulfilling our mission. To assist us in this time of crisis, please visit our donation page.
We undertake our mission with love and an even greater appreciation for your partnership. Be safe and stay well.