On 31 March 2020, the Government of Uganda instituted severe restrictions to avoid the spread of the deadly and highly contagious COVID 19. The official lock down directives closed all markets in the nation to those who do not sell food items; and suspended all forms of private and public transportation including bodabodas, Tuck-Tuck, and taxis. These measures have had an immediate and severe impact on low-wage earners, hawkers, roadside vendors, and struggling urban refugees as all manners of self-employment jobs were eliminated. The markets, the demands, and the ability to transport goods all disappeared. Among those affected are urban refugees who live hand to mouth. Without their daily market activity, they cannot provide food for their families. This project is an emergency appeal to provide food items and sanitizing materials to 120 vulnerable people in Kampala. Many of these individuals are already food insecure and risk inadequate nourishment, even to the point of starvation, during regular economic times. The urban refugees do not receive any support from UNHCR because they are out of the refugee settlements. As a consortium of refugee-led organizations, we will purchase and deliver supplies to our vulnerable community members by foot and by bicycle. Where it is not possible to deliver in person, we will send mobile money in the equivalent of purchased goods to families so they can purchase what the family needs. These efforts will therefore protect them from the risk of getting arrested and be the agent circulator of Covid-19.
Kampala is a congested, sprawling city with nearly 1.8 million people, 5.7% of whom are refugees. Urban refugees are hit with a double whammy by the COVID-19 crisis:
- Uganda has a progressive dual policy of hosting refugees as refugees may live in rural refugee settlements or in urban areas. For those who chose to live in urban areas, they must be self-reliant and there is very little assistance given even to the most vulnerable urban refugees. UNHCR and its implementing partners do not help refugees to find employment. Refugees in Kampala must provide for themselves and many do so by working in informal markets or working as entrepreneurs. Many of them depend on hawking business, tailoring, and roadside vendors of jewelry as self-employment. Because Kampala is so densely packed , a complete lockdown was needed to limit contagion; but
- For many of Uganda’s urban poor, including refugees, the lack of access to markets to continue economic activities, coupled with the lack of official support, essentially condemns too many to languish in home. In “normal” times, urban refugees have the option to return to settlements for limited food or assistance, but this is not possible now due to the shutdown of all personal and public transportation. The economic impact of the lock-down has also put them in a state of limbo and hence threatens them with starvation. Most refugees’ hawkers, low-wage workers and roadside vendors no longer have an income and therefore they are unable to provide food for their families and protect themselves from the contagion Covid-19. Many refugees will necessarily continue their businesses and hawking in order to survive. For those who defy the market closures, they will face arrest, and heightened risk of disease infection, including to spread the disease to their vulnerable family members at home and to other vulnerable people in their communities. Our intervention to provide immediate supplies allows people to stay at home, stay safe, and continue to eat and care for their families during this crisis.
We seek to raise $1,000 to provide sanitizers and emergency food relief to a minimum of 40 homeless, 40 families at risk and 40 single mothers to contribute to build frontiers and avoid the spread of Covid-19. Our consortium of refugee-led organizations stands in solidarity to purchase and deliver these supplies to many that are near to us in our own communities. For known vulnerable individuals and families who live in inaccessible areas, we will send mobile money to the family such that they can purchase these supplies from small sellers near to them. It only takes 20 well wishers to donate $50 each to reach this goal. However, any donation helps us to make a difference! We budget that it costs approximately $8 USD (30,000UGX) to buy sanitizer and supply per relief package. Please support our OYOH_INITIATIVE_STOP_SPREAD_COVID-19 to keep refugees safe, at home, and out of harm's way from continuing business that subjects them to arrest and disease.