COVID-19 in Uganda
On March 22nd, Uganda's health officials confirmed the first case of COVID-19 in Uganda. Although border regions take the brunt of COVID-19 cases in Uganda, impoverished slum communities within Kampala continue to struggle to have their basic needs met. In July, as lockdown and curfew protocols began to relax, the effects of the pandemic pressed on. Many families have completely lost their livelihoods, do not have access to proper sanitation measures, and lack adequate health resources and information. These harmful effects most severely impact women and girls.
We are hearing from the girls themselves that they are facing these major challenges:
Increased rates of gender-based violence and forced marriages
Lack of sexual and reproductive health resources and education, leading to rising numbers of unintended pregnancy
3. Lack of educational resources and school materials to continue their learning
For more details, read our Response Reports below.
Bringing Voices Together Project
In August, we launched the Bringing Voices Together Project, which seeks to respond to the specific issues and needs that adolescents are facing as a result of COVID-19 and lockdown measures. Bringing Voices Together is uniquely implemented through community-based, small dialogue circles covering key concerns for adolescent girls and boys, ages 9 to 15 years. This project has ensured that we continue to reach adolescents in our communities, with much-needed learning interventions to promote well-being and cohesion in a safe way, following the Ministry of Health guidelines.
Read our latest blog post here about #BringingVoicesTogether and our community-based response to COVID-19.
"I have witnessed that many adolescents lack access to right and accurate information regarding sexual and reproductive health, but through Bringing Voices Together, they are able to get that information, which can help them stay grounded as they await the re-opening of schools.”
Fiona Ekel, Facilitator
Our Quick & Nimble Response
Girl Up Initiative Uganda is committed to serving our communities in this critical time.
We are using our existing relationships with local authorities, teachers, and parents together with our strategic location within an urban slum community to set up our quick and nimble response with a gender-responsive approach.
Family Relief Packages
GUIU launched the COVID-19 Survive & Thrive Fund to support families in our communities with basic necessities. Our team has purchased supplies and put together family relief packages. These packages consist of: posho (ground corn) and beans, soap, salt, and sanitary pads. Together with local authorities, our team is safely distributing these packages for families of the girls in our programs, patron teachers, Ni-Yetu community structures, and other community members at-risk of hunger.
The lockdown has created rising tensions in the home, putting women and children at increased risk of violence and abuse. We are working together with our partners in the Uganda Police Force to respond and support women and girls during this challenging time. Our Program Director and Program Assistant are supporting survivors of violence with psycho-social support and managing our Emergency Fund that provides financial support for girls and women in need of medical or food assistance.
Mazuri Mask Production
Our Mazuri Designs Hub staff have been busy producing colorful, washable facemasks for our staff, Coaches, and program participants. The young women trainees in the Mazuri Designs course also received a mask, which are mandatory to wear during training sessions, as well as learned how to make them on our sewing machines. We have also been selling masks alongside our other Mazuri Designs Hub products.
Community Health Drives
GUIU has been holding community health drives throughout Kampala. During these health drives, our team drive through communities in a special, colorful health van, spreading health messages via loudspeaker and distributing critical information materials on sexual and reproductive health, gender-based violence prevention, and COVID-19. Learn more in our Girls' Globe article.
Weekly Radio Show
We have launched weekly radio talk shows! Every Thursday, our team and girls are hosting conversations on Family Radio 105.3FM throughout Uganda, discussing different topics such as life skills, GBV and COVID-19 prevention, menstrual hygiene, and more.
Online Information Dissemination
GUIU is using its online platforms to reach Ugandan youth with accurate information and to promote good health and well-being during the COVID-19 lockdown. Our young and passionate team is coming together to produce podcasts, go Live on Instagram, host Tweet Chats, share infographics, and more.
We are also sharing information on our office lines that our program participants can call to report cases of violence and receive support and counseling.
Mobile Phone Outreach
In a time when our team can’t meet with the girls, young women, and youth in our programs, we are turning to mobile phone outreach to connect with each and every participant to checkshare knowledge, resources, and the encouragement necessary to stay resilient and well during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We are tirelessly reaching out to parents in all ways we can. As coaches, we are mentoring them and spreading hope and optimism."