Uganda

With knowledge and soap against the virus: Corona prevention in Uganda

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With information on corona, soap production and plans for mask manufacture, our local partner organization in Uganda is making an important contribution to the protection against the pandemic in rural areas around Lake Victoria.

A loudspeaker made in human form: With clear words and big steps, the colleague from our Ugandan partner organisation KWDT (Katosi Women Development Trust) is on the way in the villages at Lake Victoria. As one of the first activities against the spread of the coronavirus, KWDT had prepared the relevant prevention guidelines and measures against the infectious disease and translated them into the local language of Luganda. The tips are the same as in Germany: keep distance, wear a mask and wash your hands regularly and thoroughly with soap. What sounds banal to us is not a matter of course for the fishing communities around Lake Victoria. Because here, the most necessary things are often missing, clean water is luxury and soap is rare. Nevertheless, knowledge and understanding can help to protect oneself from a disease as threatening as Covid-19.

For this reason, our Ugandan partner organisation ensured at a very early point in time that relevant information was disseminated via local radio stations. Where this was not possible, the men were sent out with megaphones, for example in the village of Bugala. This was also important in order to counteract the many rumours that quickly spread in this hopeless situation.

Our colleagues* from Katosi, where one of the KWDT offices is located and from where in Corona times contact to the settlements by the lake was mainly maintained by mobile phone, told us how great the fear of the fishermen was that someone would bring in the virus. They were insecure because they were not even allowed to use their boats, which meant that most of them very quickly had no income and the fish was also missing as a food source. Hunger and fear of the future spread.

Many villages are still waiting for food parcels that the government promised to all needy people in Uganda during the Corona crisis, but apparently the supplies have been used up and we are still waiting for positive news from the politicians," says Catherine Nalugga, project staff member at KWDT.

At the same time, the organisation is now planning to help against hunger, even though the project staff normally carry out WASH activities such as the construction of pumps, wells and toilets or hygiene education and soap production.

This was already on the agenda this year anyway. A total of eleven women's self-help groups, with whom KWDT works in the communities around Lake Victoria, were to receive material for soap production. When the Corona crisis began in March, only two groups had begun with the further training courses. Unfortunately, they had to take a break, even though soap is so urgently needed. Gradually, however, the two groups are now starting production again and can help themselves and others to make the best of the crisis situation. On the one hand they use the homemade soap for health care in their own community, for example in Bugala. In addition, the women also distribute their products to neighbouring villages, where the training sessions on soap making could not yet be held due to contact restrictions. And by selling the soap, the do-it-yourselfers also generate income, which in turn helps them to buy food for their families. In addition, the self-help groups in the fishing villages, together with KWDT employees, are thinking about producing masks for their own protection and for sale.

Uganda is one of the countries in Africa that very early on tried to prevent the spread of Covid-19 with a very strict lockdown. So far there is officially no corona-related death. Of 821 cases of infection in June, 731 had survived the disease, reports Catherine Nalugga of KWDT. To date, however, the airports are closed, public transport is restricted and there is a night curfew from 7 p.m. to half past six in the morning. During this time, neither cars nor people are allowed to be on the streets, and if they violate the law, the police intervene and there are severe penalties. This also applies to violations of the obligation to wear masks, which currently still applies in all public buildings, such as banks and supermarkets.