Thoughts and updates and effects of the lockdown in Uganda
- The lockdown means you can no longer live a normal life. Restricted movements, no access to work or do business. Anxiety levels rising causing worries because of the uncertainties and coping up with over information about the COVID-19 pandemic. It is really too much for most people to process because the unknown is very frightening.
- CRESS projects have been greatly affected because staff are not able to carry on with already scheduled programs. We can no longer share morning devotion together or have Monday meetings where we make decisions and update ourselves on what has been done and what is planned to be done.
- Food rations reduced by 30% due to limited supply which might continue for a while. This was announced by WFP officials over the local radio stations. For example, for refugees receiving cash, there is a reduction from 31,000 ugx per month to 22,000 ugx per head; while food rations reduced from 12.6 kgs to 8.8kgs for cereals, from 4.6kgs to 3.1kgs for pulses(beans), salt unavailable etc.
- Prevention measures will be observed during the period of food distribution e.g. Handwashing and temperature checks, no more use of biometric verification system and social distancing of 2m to be enforced during the process of distribution.
5. Congestion in the camps and limited water for frequent washing of hands poses a huge worry to most refugees in the settlements. Soap distributed to the refugees is inadequate e.g. 1 bar of soap for 4 persons per month.
6. Lack of drugs in most of the health camps within the camp which are essential items for treatment of common sicknesses. Refugees have to move long distances from Imvepi settlement to Bulomoni Health Centre which exposes them to danger of infection from the COVID-19
7. Lack of clear information and knowledge about the COVID-19 leaves most people in the refugee camps vulnerable because they will not be well equipped to protect and keep themselves safe from the virus. Wrong information about the disease also misleads a number of people putting them in vulnerable situations. e.g. Rumours that drinking tea with tea leaves and without sugar cures the disease.
8. The Government has identified stigmatisation of the suspected infected persons as one of the big problems in curbing down the spread of the virus. The suspected individuals go into hiding making it difficult to contain the situation. There is a call for leaders to sensitize the people through the various media platforms.
9. The government is planning to distribute food to the most vulnerable Ugandans as a way to help the daily work earners who have stopped working due to the lockdown.
10. Uganda has announced measures to suspend the reception of new refugees and asylum seekers for 30 days effective 21st March, 2020 as cases of COVID-19 confirmed in East Africa. Link https://opm.go.ug/2020/03/25/government-suspends-receiving-new-refugees-over-covid-19/