OUR RESPONSE TO THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC
This page is continually updated with the latest news and developments from our work in Uganda.
The ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic is having and will continue to have a dramatic impact on the most vulnerable children and families, compounding structural weaknesses in child protection and social protection systems. The economic shocks to children and families will be felt for years to come.
The UNDP estimates that a further 2.6 Million people in Uganda will be forced into poverty and that chronic poverty will be further entrenched. The loss of time in education will hit the poorest and most vulnerable the hardest, as education has been identified as a key variable in reducing vulnerability to poverty and increasing household resilience to shock.
In terms of the pandemic itself, some containment measures in Uganda have been lifted and a new way of life is slowly unfolding. The cases may remain comparatively low for the time being, but we still recognise the need to stay cautious and prepared. We are continuing to promote awareness of good hygiene, providing food, medicine, educational material and responding to emergencies with partners through our coordinated and community led child protection system. Our social workers and our trained network of community volunteers in partnership with the local government task forces remain on the frontline.
For more information and the latest updates on the response to the pandemic from the Government of Uganda, visit the Ministry of Health website.
Keeping children safe and in loving families remains our number one priority
In addition to our ongoing child protection work, we are using our unique position to mitigate the health and economic impact of the Coronavirus pandemic. The consequences of the countrywide lockdown has been felt hardest by the most vulnerable. Many people will no longer have any means of earning a living with no welfare state ready to step in.
The Government of Uganda has done everything they can to try and prepare for the pandemic. However, most of the families we support live far away from the main medical centres and hospitals that are set up to handle the virus. Washing your hands also gets a lot more difficult if you do not have access to clean running water and soap.
We are making sure the risk from this virus is understood by our community volunteers who in turn pass this knowledge on to the families we support. We are also providing essentials including; food, health, and hygiene materials to families who are finding themselves out of work and unable to provide for their loved ones to make sure they stay safe and at home.
We are taking the following steps to ensure that no family has to make the heartbreaking choice of placing their child in an orphanage. At the same time, we are ensuring children living in orphanages are not forgotten.
Click on each link or keep scrolling to read our detailed updates.
Bwire is one of our hundreds of community volunteers on the front line, supporting his community through this pandemic. While cases in Uganda are still low, he has been visiting families in his own community to help them understand how to keep safe.
During this pandemic and lockdown, Bwire has been educating families on how to keep safe to avoid catching the virus. “Since schools are closed, children are at home I have been encouraging them to stay and play at home.”
Bwire is just one of the many daily efforts of our extended workforce at Child’s i Foundation - our community volunteers are ensuring families are able to stay together during this difficult time.
We are prioritising the safety of children, families and our beneficiaries
Child protection remains our utmost priority. Our team is monitoring over 13,000 children in over 3,000 families, as well as coordinating and responding to ongoing child protection issues with and through our network of community volunteers and local government partners.
We have supported families with food packages, medicine, financial support including rent, Income Generation for small businesses to tide them over and see them through the pandemic.
We are supporting institutions and orphanages and leaving no child behind
We are in regular contact with the orphanages we work with, via phone, to make sure no child is left behind during the pandemic. We have also maintained contact with the government to advocate for children in institutional care, to ensure they are prioritised and not forgotten during and after this pandemic.
As a result of the government’s announcement requesting schools to close, some child care institutions have sent children home. We have provided guidance to one of the orphanages we work with to ensure that children, who were rapidly reintegrated, are followed up with additional monitoring by our social workers in partnership with the orphanage staff and a government social worker.
We are keeping our volunteers and staff safe
Our staff in the UK are continuing to work from home, following government guidelines. In Uganda, our staff are working closely with pandemic response task force teams and coordinating our network of trained community volunteers who remain the first point of call for vulnerable children and families in the communities we work in. Our staff and volunteers are equipped with protective gear as they visit and provide much needed support to families. They also ensure families and their children are the community is provided with the awareness they need to remain safe and healthy.
We are working with partner NGO’s and the Government of Uganda
We have been approached by the National Association of Social Workers in Uganda to be one of their key response partners in their coordinated approach with the Ministry of Health that will raise awareness about the virus and prioritise social welfare. We will continue to develop our partnership with the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development during this time, as we support the National Child Protection Working Group to meet remotely.
We are taking extraordinary measures to support our community
We are keeping our communities safe from the Coronavirus by:
Giving out life saving public health information in local languages to families with no or limited access to radio, TV or Internet.
Preparing food, nutrition, hygiene and health supplies to families in lockdown.
Supporting families with money transfers to help them pay rent during this period when they are unable to work.
Making sure our staff have phones and enough mobile data to be able to remotely monitor and support families, and coordinate the efforts for these communities, including referrals to emergency response services.
Buying protective gear and paying for transport for when it is absolutely necessary for our staff to personally visit a community or family.