Of course, there are many impacts of the Coronavirus, and Uganda is no exception.
As of evening on 25 Mar, there were 14 documented cases of COVID-19 in Uganda. So the president closed public transport for two weeks. This effectively stops work unless you have personal transport, and that is restricted to three people, driver inclusive.
The Old Taxi park is a ghost town. If workers were able to get there, it would be the perfect time to make the desperately needed improvements. The same holds true for the roads. Many projects have begun, and now would be a great time to work in earnest when traffic is minimal. But the workers would have to be able to get there, so it’s not likely.
Food prices are also rising, though the president said he would pull the trading license of anyone who engages in food price gauging. For example, a kilo of sugar (2.2 pounds of turbinado sugar) was going for 3500 shillings (just under a dollar), and it’s now going for 5000 shillings; nearly double the price. I appreciate the president’s sentiment, though it’s nearly impossible to enforce. He also closed markets to non-food items.
As of the evening of 30 March, there were 33 documented cases of COVID-19, so the president put the nation on lockdown. Now there is no driving at all (unless it’s cargo), and there is a 7pm curfew. Almost everything is closed. Markets can remain open, but sellers have to sleep there. As in they can’t go home. For two weeks.
There are other restrictions, and many require clarification. I know that we are joining much of the world in this new normal, and I know that there are economic repercussions, just as everywhere else. Parents are accustomed to their children being fed lunch at school, and now they have to provide another meal, which is difficult when one is not working. I’m hoping most people have access to clean water, as people must keep a 4-meter space, and that’s even more difficult when carrying water, a very social activity. That’s 12 feet. How on earth is one to go to the market and keep 12 feet around you? If you’re in the village and the market is far, how are you to get there so you can feed your family?
I am grateful that I am in my idyllic little bubble on campus, and am fine. I stocked up on most supplies before the restrictions, and there’s a supermarket just outside the gate if I run out of something. I should be fine. Others are not so fortunate. Even with the restrictions, the concerns over crime are valid and widespread.
Please keep Uganda in your prayers as we continue to pray for all.