What is Uganda’s #covid19 risk assessment profile?
What are the likely costs to the economy? Which sectors and people are most at risk?
What stimulus packages must government provide and what is the timing for such packages to be effective?
These and more questions must be answered by the government. The Ministry of Finance and Bank of Uganda must provide economic updates to calm the situation. Already, the United States Dollar is heading the wrong way. As of this writing, 26th March 2020, the Ugx against the dollar is at 3,865, and 3,950 at some foreign exchange bureaus. Keep mind that the rate was 3,679 on 26th February 2020. That represents a depreciation of the shilling against the dollar by 5% in under a month!
In part 1 of this article, I identified five next steps.
- Conduct the country #covid19 risk assessment
- Take drastic actions to minimize the spread
- Establish communication protocols for the official source of data
- Implement emergency relief for the vulnerable
- Activate economy stabilization fund
I already wrote about conducting a country-wide #covid19 risk assessment. Next, the government must take drastic actions to minimize the spread of the virus.
On 25th March 2020, the President once again announced further directives to control the virus. In brief, the President directed, new measures aimed at deepening social distancing which he called “health distancing”
- Suspend all public transport for 14 days effective March 26th, All Passenger trains, taxis, mini-buses, coasters, Boda Bodas, etc have been suspended. Private vehicles are allowed to move, but with no more than 3 people including the driver. Cargo tracks, delivery vans, and pickups are allowed to move for food and other materials.
- Markets are allowed to open only to sell foodstuffs, matooke, sweet potatoes, cassava, rice, beans, beef, and fruits. Trading in all non-food items is suspended with immediate effect.
- Government offices, each MDA must determine the key staff remain on duty. And establish a rotation schedule. The rest should stay at home.
- All district government vehicles should be parked at the district headquarters under the command of the district health officer. The government will fuel the vehicles.
The President’s directive is welcome and timely.
However, the president has not yet pronounced himself on the manufacturing companies which bring so many people from so many places. These still pose a huge risk to the country, in case one of them happens to have the virus.
More drastic actions must be taken. The economy should be put on total lockdown for at least 14 days. It is not easy, but prevention is better than cure.
Our country lacks the facilities and logistics to handle many cases of #covid19 in case the cases increased beyond 500. Already, big economies with advanced healthcare systems and logistics are crying foul about the unpreparedness in managing the many cases.
Another threat that is coming is hunger. As the economy goes on lockdown, people without savings and those that depend on a day’s work to eke a living find themselves cut off from the economy and the ability to ‘kuyiya’ in the president’s speech. If the local person or ‘wananchi’ cannot kuyiya or find a way to survive on the street, since there are hardly people on the streets, it means they are starving. This could lead to a huge security risk.
To this end, the government must mobilize for food supplies to families that are under lockdown. This is a sophisticated logistics issue, but it is essential. Whereas the government is on the alert about any #covid19 case, there should be another team or committee doing basic food supplies through the ministry of disaster preparedness. People should receive food rations at least 5 kilograms of posho and beans per week per household. If this is not possible, provide Ugx. 20,000 per family for two weeks during the period of the lockdown so that people find a way of survival. The money could be sent via mobile money using the NIRA database.
Treating covid19 patience is more expensive than treating hunger.
- More directives are needed, as the government ascertains and tracks potential risk persons who could be extending the spread of the virus across the country. Indeed, such people are enemies of this country and should be held accountable for avoiding self-quarantine. More social distancing measures like the closure of private offices and manufacturing plants should be commenced for at least 14 days.
- The government must plan on helping people at the bottom of the pyramid with food so that they don’t die at home of hunger. Sending Ugx. 20,000 to each family say via mobile money by using the NIRA database could be timely.
- Continue the awareness messages and give more messages of hope. Indeed, the world will not come to an end. That is another message that should be repeated.
In part 3, I will explore the communication protocols the government must decree on. Too much noise is not good.
I take this opportunity to thank President Museveni, and the government for the leadership thus far. #coronavirus is not relenting. It is an invisible enemy. It calls for total vigilance, change of lifestyle and way of life and being our brother’s keeper. The ongoing briefings on the situation in Uganda and the state of coronavirus cases are welcome and we all appreciate it.
Again, what is Uganda’s #covid19 risk assessment? What is the estimated cost to the economy in terms of financial and non-financial? What are the plans to recover the economy from this #covid19 fiasco? Just like the ongoing updates by the President, and Ministry of Health, we are looking forward to similar updates by the President and Ministry of Finance and Bank of Uganda.
Share your answers below.
Copyright Mustapha B Mugisa, 2020. All rights reserved.