Kampala, Uganda – By E K Benj.
Uganda’s State Minister for Foreign Affairs Hon Henry Oryem Okello on behalf of the Government has launched the United Nations Emergency Appeal for Response to COVID-19 and its impacts in Uganda earlier today 23rd April on a Zoom Video Conference Ceremony organized by UN.
Sources to HICGI News Agency indicate that President Yoweri Kaguta was closely following this momentous ceremony with keen interest overwhelmed by the support UN is rendering to Uganda at this time when the country is on lock down by his orders as one of the strategies to fight Corona Virus Pandemic.
Ms. Rosa Malango, UN Resident Coordinator and Designated Official for Security, Uganda delivered a significant emotional address that has also been attended by the Minister for General Duties, Hon. Mary Okurut, Development Partners, UN Heads of Agencies, UN fellows, The Secretary-General of Uganda Red Cross Mr. Robert Kwesiga, Representatives from Non-Governmental Organizations, Youth and Women’s groups as well as Private Sector and Academia.
In her address, Malango, began by expressing solidarity with the Government and People of Uganda for all the early actions and efforts to curb the spread of the deadly COVID-19. “We commend President Yoweri Museveni for his personal leadership and commitment to preventing the spread and responding to COVID19 in Uganda.” She also extolled Uganda’s health workers, essential personnel and UN staff at the frontlines helping to keep people alive adding that strength, commitment and sacrifice is an inspiration.
Malango says that the world is in a very critical time in human history; people are facing an unprecedented health threat with severe implications for society’s most vulnerable and that while the COVID-19 pandemic is first and foremost a health crisis, its implications are far-reaching making it a human crisis.
Essential services are strained as human and financial resources are diverted to respond to this rapidly expanding public health emergency.
She adds that COVID-19 puts all people in Uganda at risk and requires an urgent and robust response, including through the intensification of surveillance, detection and containment measures, as well as case management and community engagement.
Between the Lines
In an exclusive Interview with HICGI News Agency UN Boss says “Each country is working with their UN team to respond to their situation. Our Appeal is for Uganda where we are accredited to work.“ Responding to our concerns on Uganda’s neighboring countries like South Sudan, DRC, Rwanda & Tanzania.
The necessary restrictions on movement are impacting both people’s ability to access basic services like healthcare and food and to sustain their livelihoods. These containment measures have significantly reduced the level of economic activity, particularly in the informal sector, which employs 85% of Ugandans. Up to 60 percent of informal enterprises have stopped their operations or moved below the poverty level, denying daily earnings to between 5 and 6 million informal workers, most of them living hand to mouth. The measures are particularly worrisome for the elderly, the disabled, as well as female and child headed families. These populations often do not have access to banking services and do not have savings to fall back on. COVID-19 prevention measures will also backlog the criminal justice system as those awaiting bail or trial will face delays. 3 COVID-19 is a threat to the peaceful co-existence of refugees in Uganda.
Funding for refugee responses across the region have dwindled and focus on national COVID-19 responses worldwide will likely hurt efforts to maintain what meagre resources remain to feed, clothe, shelter, educate and protect the 1.4 million refugees in Uganda.
It is also important that changes in weather patterns and natural disasters that have forced Ugandans to flee their homes do not exacerbate the spread of the virus due to crowding in makeshift shelters. Investment in disaster management at local levels close to meteorological hot spots is key.
The protection of children, particularly girls and young women, is compromised the longer they are out of school as they are exposed to the possibility of child marriage, exploitation and teen pregnancy. Families, communities, cultural and religious leaders are critical partners on this frontline against the exploitation of women and girls. Unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures.
Rosa Malango has announced that the United Nations in partnership with the Government of Uganda, NGOs and Uganda Red Cross Society have developed the UN Emergency Appeal for the Response to and the Impacts of Covid-19 in Uganda.
She says that this collective efforts of 15 UN organizations and 20 national and international NGOs, including youth and women’s organizations brings forth international and local knowledge to respond to the most vulnerable in a complex environment.
Malango notes that these life-saving efforts are only possible thanks to the Uganda’s experience in dealing with pandemics, humanitarian crises and ensuring safety and security for essential services.
The UN Emergency Appeal aims to support 12.8 million people by addressing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the most vulnerable people in Uganda, including the elderly, people living with disabilities, women and girls, refugees, widows, female-headed households, market women, street vendors, people living with HIV and TB, migrants and those displaced by natural disasters.
HICGI News Agency has learnt that the support will be provided through key areas: health; food security, livelihoods and 4 nutrition life-saving services and social protection; refugees and displacement; immediate economic support and digital innovation; as well as coordination and common services.
UN says that in all interventions they will focus on the most vulnerable and ensuring that the rights of all people are protected, including children, persons with disabilities, and other vulnerable populations in accordance with national laws and shared universal principles. Further alluding securing and building on progress in gender equality and women’s rights, including women into response to support their efforts to advocate for women’s leadership in the COVID-19 response.
“We are inspired by the youth who are part of this Appeal, innovators in their own right, ready to contribute to the national effort through this platform.” (UN is undertaking another initiative called Youth Coalition for SDGs)
Malango adds that placing people, protecting the environment and survival at the epicenter of their work means they we will focus on supporting the creation of community food banks, regional silos and a national food reserve. Coupled with support to sustain access to markets and bringing digital solutions to the value chain. They believe this will contribute to protecting the women at the frontlines of food production and the small and medium enterprises.
“We are aware that third National Development Plan (NDPIII) is being adjusted to the new realities as a result of COVID-19 and similarly the UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (2021-2025) which is under formulation will also take into consideration the COVID-19 reality as we reprogramme our ongoing programmes.” Reads Malango and adds that new approaches to domestic resource mobilization, repurposing the emerging manufacturing capacity in the country to meet basic needs, supporting digital solutions to protect the livelihoods of the most vulnerable are part of the immediate economic solutions we must work on together.
UN offers solution sighting new jobs on the digital realm, enhancing investments in social protection initiatives, increasing access to innovative solutions to access water and sanitation, are additional areas of work.
Malango says each one of us has a role to play in this effort to stem its spread and no effort is too small to make a real difference. It is a shared burden. The only way to combat 5 COVID-19 is together.
“Today we stand here to present the UN Emergency Appeal and the organizations participating. We hope that you will contribute by increasing awareness of the work being done through this plan.” Says the UN Boss and invites partners to invest in this Appeal as it enables them to scale support to the Government and people of Uganda.
She says that there are several options to contribute to the UN Emergency Appeal: including;
1- Directly to organisations participating in this UN Emergency Appeal;
2- UN Uganda country based Multi-Partner Trust Fund Emergency Window managed out of UN Headquarters in New York (There are also global instruments launched by the UN Secretary-General to which donors contribute to): – Solidarity Response Fund – Humanitarian Appeal: To support the world’s most vulnerable countries UN launched a $2 billion coordinated global Humanitarian Response Plan to fight the impact of COVID in some of the world’s most vulnerable countries – COVID-19 Response and Recovery Trust Fund, and – UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF).
Malango invites donors who wish to use this channel to communicate to their capitals and UNHQ accordingly.
On behalf of the United Nations in Uganda, she concluded by conveying thanks to Government for an open dialogue on the response to this challenge and for being ready to exploit the opportunities to strengthen Uganda’s capacities to care for the most vulnerable. And says UN remains committed to leave no one behind.
“We call upon everyone in Uganda to work together to address this crisis by following the guidelines of Ministry of Health and WHO. This is the moment to come together to save lives and fight a common threat.” Says Malango and looks forward to support and collaboration.
In an exclusive interview with HICGI News Agency, Malango also says “This is a complementary fund to enable UN NGOs and Red Cross implement the activities in the appeal.”
While on Uganda Broadcasting Cooperation –UBC hosted by renown journalist Jjagenda Ssemakula, Malongo announced earlier today that several countries have started responding to this appeal and disclosed Norwagian Embassy with a pledge of U$2m.
It should be remembered that on 21 March 2020, Uganda confirmed its first COVID-19 imported case and since then cases have been on the rise though efforts have een put that have seen the country with 45 recoveries out of the 63 cases. There currently 2,658,062 global cases with 721,531 recoveries and 184,642 death.
United States of America leads with 852,610 with 48,295 deaths according to World Metres.