COVID-19 is a global pandemic that started in China’s city of Wuhan in December 2019 and now has spread to over 210 countries across the world with higher chances of spreading farther.
In Africa, about 16,872 cases, and 876 deaths have been confirmed in 45 countries as of April 14, including Uganda and its neighboring countries of Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Kenya, & Tanzania. Though there have been no deaths confirmed in Uganda.
Most countries of the world are undergoing lockdown in efforts to prevent the rapid spread of the pandemic, including Uganda. Additionally, Uganda hosts the largest number of refugees in Africa and is one of the top refugee hosting countries worldwide. By October 2018, close to 1.1 million refugees were settled amongst host communities in 12 districts. This caused significant stress on Uganda’s fragile welfare system. Yumbe district alone is home to over 270,000 South Sudanese refugees living in the Bidi Bidi Refugee Settlement, the 2nd largest refugee settlement in the world, putting an immense strain on the already limited resources available in Yumbe District. Because many men were killed in the recent conflict, many households in Bidi Bidi are either child or woman headed.
To mitigate the effect of COVID-19, The Government of Uganda's Ministry of Health has provided guidance on how to prevent infections and spread of the virus. The President of the Republic of Uganda, His Excellency Gen. Yoweri Museveni Kaguta, has re-affirmed the guidelines of the Ministry of Health and issued further orders to strengthen them. They include bans on religious /public gatherings with immediate effect. He has also directed the closure of all schools, tertiary institutions and universities and stoppage of all public gatherings.
The situation above, have called for reduction of food ratio for refugees by 30% making it increasingly difficult for the vulnerable refugees to sustain their welfare. Furthermore, a lack of ability to access markets and the affect of the current draught on crop production has also created increased vulnerabilities in the host communities living in and around Yumbe District.
The economic implications on the COVID19 pandemic have had a significant effect on contributions to international development organizations and Preserve International is no exception.
Over the past month we have seen a 40% reduction in donations with the payment of several pledges being delayed until further notice.
Unfortunately this does not change the immediacy of the need, especially for children, living in Yumbe, Uganda.
If you are able to support our COVID19 efforts in any way we assure you that your contribution will make a tangible difference in the lives of the most vulnerable. No amount is too small and we are incredibly grateful for your support and generosity.
While as an organization we believe very much in the “teach a (wo)man to fish” mentality, rather than giving handouts, desperate times call for desperate measures. And in this time of crisis. people simply need to eat and to stay healthy while social distancing.
This is why we are taking a 3 tiered approach to our COVID19 response. We will first provide critical food AID to those who need it most. We will then EQUIP with the seeds and farm tools people need in order to plant and prepare for a strong harvest in July and August. Finally, we will EMPOWER people to make the most of their harvests through innovative food preservation and effective post harvest handling.
A 30% reduction in rations from the World Food Program is having a significant impact on many in the BidiBidi Refugee Settlement who receive the vast amount of their daily sustenance through food aid. This has compounded with skyrocketing food prices in the local market due to new government restrictions intended to slow the spread of the COVID19 pandemic. To mitigate the affects of some of these policies, Preserve International is providing desperately needed food aid to the most vulnerable in the community. This includes 2 orphanages, several health centers and to individuals suffering from physical and mental disabilities.
Another consequence of the governmental policies to reduce the spread of COVID19 has been a lack of access to basic needs, including seeds and tools for small scale farmers. If people are unable to plant over the next month then come the late summer harvest season there will be much larger and more long term problems then just COVID19. Preserve International is therefore working with Seed Programs International to distribute seeds and farm tools to small scale farmers in Yumbe so that build up their self reliance in order to weather this storm.
Phase 3 of our response will take place during the next harvest season in July and August. Preserve International will be providing food preservation and food storage technology and training to small scale farmers in Yumbe so that they can make the most of their harvests and prepare for continued shortages in the markets over the next year. By increasing self dependence through proper post harvest handling we are also helping rural communities limit their travel to markets and other public gathering spaces where they are vulnerable to contracting COVID19.