Alumni Stories: Uganda in the time of COVID-19 by Tuhirirwe Karane
As a CEED internship alumni, I am glad to have been granted an opportunity to share my experiences and observations in such unprecedented times as the globe battles COVID19. Just like many countries worldwide, Uganda has instituted some tough measures to tame the highly infectious corona virus. Among them is a ban on public transport, gatherings of more than five people and a strict dusk to dawn curfew.
At a personal level, I have had to go and isolate from my home district of Ntungamo in South West Uganda. As a result, I am working remotely but there is also not so much to do considering everything has come to a standstill. Certain ramifications such as loss of income escort this because so much that had been planned can no longer be executed. I have also witnessed many people lose jobs because a number of companies are no longer able to foot operational costs when the customers are away. The tourism industry for example which is the largest foreign exchange earner for Uganda has taken a big hit as there are no visitors coming into the country forcing employers to lay off many of their staff. Loss of income means that many can no longer afford basic needs such as food and as such are looking to government and their leaders for relief. Despite being slightly cushioned by relief efforts from the corporate world, government has had to bare the strain of having to feed the urban poor across Kampala. This is happening in the face of impending loss in revenue resulting from a lull in economic activity. It is therefore very evident that we are living in very uncertain times especially because this situation looks far from over.
As a country, we have managed to curb the spread of the virus to the community level but an increasing contraction rate by our neighbours seems to be undoing all our earlier efforts. Vital cargo coming into Uganda is being transported by a number of already sick individuals from neighbouring countries, which puts us at great risk. However, despite the gloom and doom, there have been a few highs arising out of this situation. Family bonds for example have been deeply strengthened throughout this period. Many who could barely spend hours together because of school and complex work schedules are now seen on social media platforms like Tik-Tok in joint fun activities. It also appears that this free time has awakened us to the need for body workouts. There has been an exponential growth in numbers of people jogging on the streets, so much that there have been concerns that they could be breeding grounds for the spread of COVID19.
With advanced tech resources coming to the fore, many employers have also come to a sudden realization that employees do not have to be physically present at their desks to be able to execute assignments. There is
therefore some good to pick out these circumstances although we cannot stop wishing for brighter days when all this will be behind us. To achieve this, we all need to harness individual agency through abiding by the guidelines handed to us by the World Health Organization and the Ministry of Health. Wuhan is great testimony that all the affected areas can get back to normalcy if we are disciplined enough.