Responses to COVID 19: Uganda Federation & ACTogether Uganda

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On behalf of the the National Slum Dweller Federation of Uganda (NSDFU) and ACTogether UgandaSDI presents the work to fight COVID-19 in Uganda. The following is an account from the SDI affiliate in Uganda, with updates on the current work of the Uganda federation and ACTogether.

Under the best of conditions slum dwellers live from hand to mouth. With outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in Uganda, the national government has, through the Ministry of Health (MoH), issued a series of guidelines to curb its spread throughout the country. This includes a freeze on much of the economic activity slum dwellers rely on for their incomes. Even though these guidelines are vital in curbing the spread of the virus, their implementation is expected to have an adverse effect on the millions of Ugandans living in slums. For weeks, many will have to survive without income and will likely be unable to sustain themselves or their families.

Slum dwellers are in a catch-22: their already vulnerable position is made worse  even before the virus reaches their community. If not addressed, this desperate situation will likely lead to a rise in lawlessness, violence and crime. The Uganda SDI Alliance, comprised of the National Slum Dweller Federation of Uganda (NSDFU) and ACTogether Uganda, has put together a set of proposed interventions to support the communities of the urban poor where they are active. Below is a detailed description of the proposed interventions:

Select health centres located in slum settlements and serving the population there will be supported with equipment and tools, enabling frontline medical workers to execute their duties safely. These include: face masks, examination and surgical gloves, disinfectant, hand sanitiser, and hand-washing soap.

The Health centres to be supported are; Kisugu (Makindye), Kitebi (Makindye), Kisenyi (Kampala Central), Kiswa (Nakawa), Kawala (Kawempe), Nabweru (Kawempe), Komamboga (Kawempe), in Kampala; Wakiso Health Centre (Wakiso Town Council; and DANIDA (Masese), Kibugambata (Masese), Kimaka, Mpumudde and Walukuba in Jinja.

Support to Sanitation Units in Informal Settlements (Target: 6 Sanitation Units)

Access to clean water and safe, hygienic sanitation facilities is a major challenge for slum dwellers globally, resulting in health risks such as diarrhea and dehydration that pose threats to millions daily. With the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, yet another risk has been added to the list with the virus passing via contaminated surfaces and handwashing being one of the best preventative measures to avoid infection.

Over the years, the Uganda SDI Alliance has set up water and sanitation Units in a number of informal settlements across Kampala, Jinja and beyond. These have been instrumental in not only extending affordable water and sanitation to slum communities but also providing communities with meeting space. The sanitation units are located in markets and densely populated settlements with each serving between 200 and 300 people daily. Therefore, it is essential that they are well-equipped to control the spread of Covid-19, along with a number of other waterborne diseases that threaten millions of lives daily.  Each sanitation will be equipped with an external hand washing tank, liquid hand-washing soap, disinfectants, sanitisers, and face-masks and gloves for the caretaker.

Information, Communication and Education Materials

Essential in the effort to curb the spread of the corona virus is access to credible information on how individuals can protect themselves and their families from getting infected. To this end, information, education and communication materials have been developed from the general messages issued by Ministry of Health and customized to respond to the conditions of informal settlements, such as the use of shared facilities like water points and toilets. This is vital to counter misinformation about the symptoms, spread, and prevention of the virus. The messages will be pictorial and placed at strategic locations throughout the informal settlement in order to reach as many people as possible.