In the beginning of the general Covid19 lockdown in Uganda, the main concern of LL was that big parts of the community living in Namuwongo slum would starve due to inability to work and make a living. Therefore, our organization collected and transferred financial support to over 300 families that we work with while continuing, despite the crisis and the shutdown of our programs in Uganda, to promote organizational optimization processes in order to be as ready as possible for the day after Covid19.
The current situation in Uganda is that all schools are still closed and social gatherings are banned although some restrictions have been eased. In the past month, the complete lockdown has been released remaining only with a night curfew, public transport has been allowed to operate and most businesses have returned to limited activities..
Although COVID-19 has been slow to take root in Africa, cases are now spreading rapidly. Taking into consideration that high numbers of the African population in general, and the Ugandan population in particular, live in crowded household and communities, the number of new infections and deaths is expected to continue rising on a daily basis due to the continued contact, both direct and indirect, between infected and uninfected members of the population.
Figure 1. The trend of COVID 19 in Africa: 17-29 March, 2020. Data source: WHO COVID Database, accessed April 6, 2020.
At a continental level, Africa is highly vulnerable to the spread of the COVID-19, also due to the fragile public health systems and close ties (in terms of trade, investment and finance, education and security cooperation) with China. According to the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the unfolding coronavirus crisis could exacerbate Africa’s already stagnant growth. UNECA further anticipates a decline in employment by 48%, and 48% decline in the size of the population expected to move out of poverty. The continent will require US $10.6 billion in unanticipated increases in health spending to curtail the virus from spreading, while on the other hand revenue losses could lead to unsustainable debt.
Lastly, and importantly for medium and long-term impacts of COVID-19, it is possible that the crisis will undermine progress on financing and implementation of SDGs, and Africa Agenda 2063. UNECA estimates that US $100B is needed to bridge funding gap and propel the Decade of Action. Resources are likely to be diverted from implementation of SDG-related activities to economic recovery during and following the COVID-19 crisis.
4 UNECA, 2020. https://www.uneca.org/stories/eca-estimates-billions-worth-losses-africa-due-covid-19-impact
5 MFPED, 2020.
6 URA, 2020. Impact of corona virus on revenue performance.
Figure 2. Trend of cases of COVID-19 in Uganda. Data source: WHO COVID-19 Database, accessed April 7, 2020.
For Uganda specifically, the Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development (MFPED) provided preliminary assessment on March 20, 2020 of the short-term impact of the pandemic, anticipating the following:
(i) Increase in the number of poor people by 2.6 million;
(ii) Significant deterioration of the current account balance owing to expected severe reduction in exports, tourism receipts and workers remittances;
(iii) Domestic revenue shortfall of Shs288.3 billion in FY 2019/20 and Shs350 billion in FY 2020/21 due a reduction in economic activity. Uganda Revenue Authority anticipate a loss of UGX 116.26 billion in customs revenue by the end of June due to this crisis alone, expanding the overall revenue loss UGX 513.26 billion by close of June 20206.
(iv) Heightened pressure on fiscal space as a result of additional expenditure to address rapid response in the health sector and livelihood support for affected persons.
Since the Covid19 outbreak in March 2020, Little Light children center has been closed according to the limitations and the school system being shut down. In the past six months, the children are without an educational framework, and the youth group and women groups cannot gather in our center. In addition, a large part of our sales channels were also shut down, and the volunteers in the field were forced to return home due to the lock down.
The announcement of the opening of the borders to tourists was circulated last week. Uganda has opened its doors to tourists, and schools are likely to return to normal starting next year.
Little Light Children center will return to full operation in the upcoming months.
The volunteers and staff members have been preparing over the past few months for the day after. This is with the aim of returning to activity as soon as possible, so LL would continue to support the community living in the Namuwongo slum in Kampala.