The Launch of the appeal!
On 23rd/04/2020, Uganda became the first country in East Africa to launch an emergency appeal on the impact of COVID-19 headlined by UN Uganda Resident Coordinator Ms. Rosa Malango. In collaboration with the government of Uganda through the office of the Prime Minister, they presented an appeal for US$ 316 Million targeting 12.8 Million people, the most vulnerable being children and Refugees living in urban centers. During the launch, there was an urgent call upon local NGOs to strongly support the government in the fight to control the spread of COVID-19.
Key target areas
20 Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) together with Red Cross presented an urgent need to focus on Health, Food Security, Livelihoods, Nutrition, Disaster Management and Refugee Well-being in urban and Peri-urban centers in Uganda.
Lack of enough capacity to control the rapid population growth in our Country is what got us here in the first place. It therefore becomes quite absurd when policy makers feel like they can give a break to the very key interventions in population regulation like Contraceptives, safe abortion services, antenatal care and skilled attendance during delivery especially at Health Center level in great excuse that its main focus is on system strengthening. I wonder what kind of health system strengthening eliminates the majority population; in this context the Youth. Much as all these gaps still need to be filled, ignorance still remains a bigger burden and agent of COVID-19 we just hope Education will be the first priority post COVID-19. We might be worried about the virus but its effects are way worse especially to the Youth.
The appeal was presented in alignment with Government’s Vision 2040 which focuses on developing the economy of the informal sector, small and medium enterprises. It should be noted that much as COVID-19 is a Health Emergency, its effects on the most vulnerable population extend way beyond health complications. Restricted movement alone is denying people essential Health care and food. Mis-information has also caused more harm to the population than the virus itself especially psychologically. Mental Health and well-being now more than ever must be integrated in the different interventions being sought post COVID-19.
This crisis has not only exposed the gaps in government’s ability to manage disaster but also its ability to ensure child protection. As we speak, half of the population of children who are away from school have no access to education materials during this crisis especially those under the Universal Primary Education Program. The School Health policy must be reviewed to be in position to provide Adolescent Responsive Health Services and Information in schools bearing in mind that half of the Adolescents engage into sex at a very early age.
World Food Program
According to the World Food Program, Uganda possesses the biggest part of arable land in East Africa. 45% of the land is fertile and fit for farming though at the same time Uganda marks increased urbanization every day. This directly translates to misplaced responsibilities especially for Youth who indicate the highest levels of unemployment. This appeal is purposeful targeting children and refugees in the urban centers. It was reported that if this crisis is not well handles, 265 Million People in the middle and low income statuses will be affected world-wide and therefore how the Agricultural sector will play out is very key to survival of human kind.
World Health Organization
Dr. Yonas Tegegn, the Country representative of WHO-Uganda during his presentation for the Emergency appeal emphasized the need for total solidarity and commitment from everyone towards the fight of the virus. He stressed that mis-information at this stage is more dangerous than the disease itself. however, essential services that will prevent children from dying, eradicate poverty and discrimination must be prioritized. “Our Health Systems must be able to test, detect and treat people from the virus.” He added.
Gender Equity an Equality
Rita Aciro, the Director UWONET who during the launch was not only speaking on behalf of the Women Organizations but also for the Civil Society Organizations at large extended the need to expand the response due to the exposed inequalities especially for groups with vulnerabilities. “We must move away from a one size fit all” she commented. There must be comprehensive holistic approaches to avoid major setbacks post COVID-19 she added.
Global Responses to COVID-19
Most countries in Africa were identified as not ready enough to participate in global responses to COVID-19 as so far its Uganda, Kenya, Malawi, Zimbabwe that have managed to present their well-articulated emergency appeals. COVID-19 being a global pandemic will require a united force, therefore UN in Uganda sighted out Youth led social & economic interventions as one of the key priorities in Response to COVID-19 though Youth Presentation was barely recognized during the launch of the appeal.