No business as usual: An update from Uganda

May 2020

In this series, we hear from the Little Sun partners around the globe on how their work and life is affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and what they think the post-pandemic future will bring. We publish accounts from our partners both in Africa as well as in Europe and the United States. At the end of each blog post, you’ll find local initiatives to support.

 

Little Sun Lockdown, Part 2: Uganda

 

 

Today we hear from Paul Muganga, who is the finance and administrative officer at JEEP, Joint Energy and Environmental Projects, our Little Sun partner in Uganda.

 

 

“In Uganda, as in many other African and global countries, measures have been strict to ensure that Covid-19 doesn’t spread. What is different here is that we have under 100 reported cases and no deaths so far, which is very low compared to other countries. The main measure to assure the containment of the virus is the lockdown. Initially going until May 5th, it was now extended for two more weeks. We are not allowed to drive by car, only trucks carrying food to the markets and cars for medical staff and those for relief agencies are allowed to move. The boda boda (the motorcycle public transport) are allowed to carry food to homes, but not to carry people. We also have a curfew which means we stop moving at 7 pm in the evening until 6 am in the morning.

 

Screenshot from https://www.afro.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus-covid-19
The Coronavirus in Uganda. Screenshot from https://www.afro.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus-covid-19

 

All these measurements have really affected the people but the government has been very strict to enforce this throughout the whole country. As people really fear the Coronavirus, there were no bad reactions and the population is accepting the situation quite well.

We are all encouraged to give money and food, helping each other the best we can. I live in a rural urban area  and there are many people right now struggling to get food and other basic necessities.

My wife and I have a family of two twin-boys and a girl. We live with my uncle’s daughter,  and a house helper who takes care of the little girl when we go to work, as well as a young man who helps with our little poultry business, so we are eight people in total. They both stayed here because of the quarantine – they were actually not able to go back to their families. The little poultry farm normally provides us additional income, but I had to stop this work for the moment, as transportation of feeds and medicine is impossible. With the reduced income, all the money I have is used for buying food for my family and my father family. Apart from going to the market, we are trying very much to keep at home. We are all relatively fine and thank God for providing and also protecting us.

My work as a bookkeeper is very much affected. As I live 20 kilometers from the office and because of all the restrictions, I cannot go to work. Most of our activities involve creating awareness and training. Since gatherings are not allowed, this means all the planned meetings and trainings cannot happen and we have huge delays in implementation. I am also studying Business Administration to get additional skills, but my exams that were supposed to take place end of April were canceled.

Now, I usually go for a morning walk after I wake up, since I am diabetic. The quarantine has actually helped me to walk a little more since I have the time. Unfortunately, this has also been forbidden by the government now, so I try to do some exercise in the compound. I then have a cup of tea, check my emails and WhatsApp, read my books up to lunch time then watch TV, take a nap and then spend the rest of the day playing with the kids up to the evening.

Schools are closed  at the moment, so education is affected for an uncertain time. There is also a lot of unemployment, because many people have lost their jobs. This is difficult for every family, also for mine. We don’t know when this will end, and our savings are now decreasing, especially as my wife has lost her job and we had to stop the poultry business. What I know is that life has to change after the pandemic. It will take some time for things to get back to normal, because the whole world has been hit. Every country will need time to adjust and developing countries like Uganda will probably take even more time to stabilize.

I find it astonishing how the whole world has been hit by this epidemic. I see a lot of fear and the future looks ascertain at the moment. I think we can expect many things to change – economically, socially and politically. The future will be different, for Uganda, but also the rest of the world.“

– Paul Muganga, Joint Energy and Environmental Projects, Uganda

 

About JEEP

JEEP’s core vision is a green Uganda with an environmentally safe and clean habitat for future generations. The indigenous Non-Governmental Organization founded in 1983 works directly with local community groups, individuals, institutions and others to stop environmental destruction and promote efficient management of natural resources.

During the pandemic, JEEP raises funds to ensure communities most likely to hit by famine receive food supplies and encourages people to grow vegetables in their backyards and gardens. Visit their website to find out more.

www.jeepfolkecenter.org

More local initiatives to support

If you would like to help local communities, here are some local initiatives currently fighting the Corona pandemic in Uganda

Soap for the settlement

Washing your hands with soap is the most basic thing you can do to prevent an infection with the coronavirus, yet for millions of people even this is out of reach. Soap for the Settlement works with UNHCR to provide all 15,000 households of the Palabek refugee settlement with handwashing soap. soapforthesettlement.wordpress.com

Takataka Plastics

Takataka is transforming plastic waste in Uganda into quality, affordable construction materials. Right now, they are focusing on producing face shields from recycled plastic waste for Ugandan medical workers. www.takatakaplastics.com

Reading for Life

Reading for Life is working with Ugandan teachers committed to training and supporting their colleagues to ensure all children leave the early years of their education with the reading and writing skills needed to engage in expansive learning. They updated their program and have now daily teaching radio programs focusing on reading, writing and basic math for primary children. www.readforlifeug.org

Little Sun response

Little Sun is responding to the global pandemic with a  focus on energy for health and livelihoods in areas affected by the virus. We are providing health facilities with solar energy to keep lights on and medicines cold, and delivering hand held solar phone chargers to remote health workers to help them care for patients while in the field.  We are working with manufacturers to produce and distribute cotton masks to health workers and local communities, as well as providing soap and information material about the safety measures. This not only helps our partners stay safe, but it provides a steady income, particularly for women, during an uncertain time.

Photo credits: JEEP, SIS the Kindred Project, Pernille Behring