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 are continuing to have a dramatic impact on the most vulnerable children and families. A devastating 3rd wave hit Uganda in May causing the government to announce new containment measures which will see schools and businesses close, restriction on movement, and a migration of people from the urban areas to the rural areas, putting more pressure on already vulnerable households.
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.
This all comes at a time when Uganda was slowly returning to a new normal. 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 materials 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 42-day containment measures, announced on 6 June, will be felt hardest by the most vulnerable, still recovering from the previous lockdown. There are still many people struggling to find any means of earning a living with no welfare state ready to step in.
The Government of Uganda continues to do everything it can to try and fight 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. Most of the hospitals are also overwhelmed with not enough bed spaces and oxygen supply. Washing your hands also gets a lot more difficult if you do not have access to clean running water and soap.
Since our organisation's programming already aligns with COVID19 relief/recovery efforts, we’re doubling down on this work. We have prioritised prevention through raising awareness to make sure the risk from this virus and the new wave is understood by our community volunteers who in turn pass this knowledge on to the families we support. We are continuing to provide emergency essentials including food, medical support, mental health and well-being support, 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 whilst also ensuring that 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 2,125 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 are visiting families, socially distanced where we can, and ensuring children and families most at risk, get the help they need.
We have supported families with food packages, medical support, 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 care, to ensure they are prioritised and not forgotten during and after this pandemic.
We are supporting residential child care institutions struggling to remain open providing technical guidance and mentoring to support them to safely move children into family based care and where they can, repurpose into community hubs to support families and their children in their communities.
We are keeping our volunteers and staff safe
We are actively encouraging vaccine take up for all our staff and volunteers. Our social work teams are supporting 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 provided with the awareness information about the virus to remain safe and healthy. Where community volunteers cannot meet socially distanced people, we have equipped them with smartphones and data, so that we can communicate through Whatsapp groups and voice calls.
We are working with partner NGO’s and the Government of Uganda
We are continuing to collaborate and work closely with the national and local government to ensure that there is learning from this period so that the right policy and guidance is developed to keep children safe and in their families. We are working with partners to prioritise support to children living with disabilities, so that no child is left behind. We continue to work closely with the medical services, the police and government social workers to ensure that girls and women at risk of violence and survivors of violence get the support they need and justice they deserve.
We are taking extraordinary measures to support our community
We are keeping our communities safe from the Coronavirus by:
Shifting the power and supporting parents, children and care leavers to be the lead voice for advocacy, empowered to express their views and demand their rights
We have launched a community youth mental health project led by youth wellbeing champions with lived experience to provide trauma informed support to other young people struggling with mental health
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
Emergency money transfers to help them pay rent during this period when they are unable to work with a long term plan to help them to get back on their feet
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
Ensuring there is enough protective gear and safe means of travel when it is absolutely necessary for our staff to personally visit a community or family.