The country has had some of the strictest lockdown measures in the world with some classes at school closed for over a year. It is estimated that the economic effect of COVID has pushed a further 3.6million Ugandans into poverty, with significant increases recorded in cases of malnutrition, anaemia, and maternal death.
BREAKING NEWS: As of Monday 7th June, Uganda has once again entered Lockdown for 42 days with schools closed and limits imposed on travel. There are serious concerns on the impact this will have on the fragile economy and on education, with some year groups having been off school since March last year.
Through fundraising and support from UK Aid Direct, we have been providing health facilities in Kumi with handwashing equipment, hand sanitiser and locally made liquid soap.
We have a real problem because we have 13 staff and see 300 patients a day; mothers, babies, people with all kind of sicknesses; and without soap we are not looking after them properly. We need basic supplies to help us stop the spread of infection.Beatrice Akiteng, Nyero Health Centre
So far, this support has enabled us to provide at least a three-month supply of soap and sanitiser to 17 health centres across the district of Kumi, Uganda.
The economic effect of COVID has increased the basic cost of living by at least 30% leaving many of the most vulnerable struggling to eat. There are also serious concerns about recent outbreaks of Cholera in rural communities and Ebola in, neighbouring country, Guinea.
Through fundraising and support from the Wales and Africa Emergency COVID Response Grant scheme, we were able to set up local manufacturing of soap in the rural province of Koindu.
This funding enabled Helga and her team to make and distribute 2,702 bars of soap to 7 health facilities, 4 schools, 1 police post, 1 community market and 4 rural villages.
My biggest fear and concern during this lockdown was my people’s wellbeing as my village is not easily accessible and so many people were getting sick with no proper medication, it was difficult to survive. This is a great help as we are in critical circumstances and really a surprise as no-one has ever given us a gift before, even in the time of Ebola.Sahr Mossay, Kpongoma Chief
The locally crafted soap has been so well received that the team are now making it to sell in the market town of Kenema, with any profits made used to continue distributing to the most vulnerable.
Before our distribution, one organisation had come to give soap to the township of Koindu. The smell of the soap was so harsh that people could not use it. And so, when I told the Community Health Officer (CHO) Mohamed Sharif, about ours he was sceptical and raised concerns about the last one they had. But I gave them ours and he was like “What? Are you sure this soap was made in Koindu? This is the best we’ve used.Helga Sellu, In-country Director for Teams4U
The Longer Term Effect
As a consequence of the pandemic, it is estimated that over 24 million children worldwide may never return to school. It is also believed that the increased economic burden on families will cause an additional 13million child marriages, and an increase in teenage pregnancies due to girls offering their bodies in exchange for money or goods to survive.
One of our core aims, as a charity, is to remove barriers to education, particularly for girls, and so it is so important for us to challenge these issues head-on.
Through our Develop with Dignity program we hope to ease the financial concerns of parents through the provision of washable sanitary pads to girls in school, allowing girls to remain in school comfortably whilst on their periods.
We are also investing in our Sexual Reproductive Health delivery, providing education and resources to teachers, parents, community and religious leaders, to equip them with accurate information to support their adolescents to avoid teenage pregnancy.