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Survey Reveals How Ugandans Are Struggling To Access Basic Needs

The COVID-19 pandemic has left many Ugandans unable to access basic needs like food, a new survey has revealed.

As a result, many have resorted to asking for help from friends and family members.

The study conducted by Food Rights Alliance and Twaweza titled; Livelihoods under COVID-19: Livelihoods and inequality was conducted between May-June 2020 when the country was still under lockdown. The findings are based on data collected from 1,600 respondents across Uganda.

The findings of the study reveal that on average, Ugandans reported that their households were spending Shs10,800 per day, down from Shs14,100 in January 2020 before Uganda went into lockdown.

The study pointed out that the drop was sharper in rural areas from Shs14,600 to Shs10,300 than urban areas; Shs13,100 to Shs12,300.

“Despite this, more households find their income does not meet their daily needs now compared to January (26% compared to 22% previously,” read in part the report.

Despite these increased pressures, when asked who they would turn to for help if there was not enough money, 3 out of 8 Ugandans said they would not ask for help, compared to 2 out of 8 who said the same in January.

Among the rest who are more willing to ask for help, fewer of them would ask friends and more would seek help from family compared to January of this year.

Nonetheless, asking family and friends for money is among a range of previously less-used options that are becoming slightly more common during the Covid-19 pandemic. Others include selling assets and seeking casual work.

Compared to January 2020, fewer citizens are cutting expenditure (37% in January 2020 to 26% in May/June), getting items on credit (22% to 19%) and borrowing money (16% to 14%).

Given the mounting financial pressure, Ugandans are in need of some additional support.

Overall, 1 out of 10 Ugandans have received support in the last two months from government, NGOs or any other actors.

The study further reveals that Urban households are three times more likely to receive support than rural homes (24% versus 7%), which is in line with the government’s mitigation strategy for the economic effect of COVID-19.

Thus far during the Covid-19 pandemic, most Ugandans are continuing to do some form of work. Only 1 out of 7 reported that they had not done even an hour of work during the previous week. In urban areas 1 out of 5 did not do any work while in rural areas 1 out of 10 did not.

 Among those who did not do any work, half of them say they do not have any work to return to following the lockdown against Covid-19.

 “The Ugandans who do not have work to return to have no clear survival or coping strategy most of them plan to ask family for help or to make use of food stocks,” the report revealed.

Commenting on the findings, Marie Nanyanzi of Sauti za Wananchi at Twaweza, said: “These data provide some early insight into a new economic order for Ugandans following Covid-19.The intensifying pressure on citizens’ ability to meet basic needs is clear. Important changes in people’s spending and financial management are already apparent from quiet belt-tightening to growing unwillingness to ask for help from our neighbours. The data also reveal that, contrary to expectation, rural households are facing even greater financial strain than their urban counterparts. Without thoughtful and assertive intervention, all Ugandans may face even harder times ahead.”

Agnes Kirabo, the Executive Director at Food Rights Alliance said that the data show the gap in Uganda’s food governance system, noting that whereas household food security has been more resilient to shocks such as pandemics, national food security suffers under such shocks, weakening household food security further.

She explained that enhancing national food resilience requires a holistic approach with a well-defined and significant role for the state.

“COVID 19 serves to remind government to put back food in its primary position as a national priority due to its significant role in macro-economic stability, human security, and national stability overall as well as, as an underlying determinant of other social outcomes such as health,” Kirabo said, adding: “Appropriate frameworks are required as a matter of urgency to govern food production, food trade and food consumption to ensure sustainability, stability and safety.”

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