Feeding 2000 Vulnerable Households during the Lockdown
Updated: Jun 14
Like many countries across the globe, Uganda currently finds itself under strict lockdown in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 amongst its population. Luckily, to date, the nation's number of reported cases has remained low - there have only been 126 confirmed cases and no deaths.
However, as Joshua (who has lived in Masaka all his life) highlighted in our last blog, the lockdown presents a host of problems which could be potentially more threatening to the community than the virus itself. For a heavily based cash economy such as Uganda, where the welfare safety net is practically non-existent, not getting to work is a huge issue. It means people can't feed themselves or their families. Having a bank account is a rare thing in Uganda, so falling back on savings is not an option. Many live out of the cash in their pocket. What people earn from a day at work, often feeds them the next, and so on.
There is no plan B for the majority of families. No other support is coming.
Compounding the harsh reality of what a lockdown means for the nation, is the fact that this status quo looks set to continue for the foreseeable future. Currently, businesses are closed, curfews are in place and public transport is banned.
Whilst many European countries tentatively look to slowly move to a 'life after lockdown', they have the luxury of developed healthcare systems to support them through the transition. In contrast, Uganda's healthcare system is much more basic and fragile. For example, there are only 55 intensive care beds in the whole country, and in the Masaka district (where we operate), there are no ventilator units at the main hospital which serves a catchment area for 1.5 million people.
It all leads to the conclusion that should the virus take hold of the country, the healthcare system would struggle to cope, which suggests the lockdown will have to remain for many months yet.
This places huge pressure on the Ugandan community, especially the vulnerable who struggle to make ends meet in 'normal times', who are at risk of starvation.
How We're Supporting the Community
Whilst our plastic collection efforts are on hold due to the pandemic, we're focusing our efforts on supporting Masaka, where we operate, through this crisis.
Working alongside our friends at the Uganda Marathon, and thanks to the incredible generosity of many of our supporters, we've been able to put together a food programme to feed the most vulnerable in Masaka.
As we move into our third week of distributing food, here's an update on our progress and the impact it's making.
Delivering Food and Soap to the Community
We've been working with the Office of the Resident District Commissioner (RDC) and district officials to help identify the most vulnerable households in Masaka, who are in need of support. Here, the RDC announces the partnership, in a bid to support Masaka through the lockdown.
The Eco Brixs team and Uganda Marathon team have been packing up hundreds of relief parcels for distribution. Daily, they've been driving out to different areas of Masaka to give them to those most in need.
Each parcel contains enough to feed an individual for 3 weeks:
- 6kg of Maize
- 3kg of Beans
- 1 pack of Salt
- A bottle of liquid soap to maintain hygiene
The team, working alongside the army, work to unload one of the trucks for distribution. This truck fed just under 500 vulnerable households.
This elderly man is one of the first to receive a parcel. He commented, despite Uganda's eventful recent history, during the 8 decades he has lived, he has never seen a crisis such as this, and is very grateful for the support.
The programme has also allowed us to support a number of vulnerable mothers and children within the Masaka community, as below.
Using the Uganda Marathon's charity network (an annual event which works with some of the most vulnerable communities in the area) we have also been able to support several Charity Projects. Here John, the Director from an organisation called Youth with a Vision, which supports disadvantaged youths, shares his thanks for the food parcels.
A Huge Thank You
As the food distribution enters its third week, it meant we've been able to feed over 2000 vulnerable households in Masaka so far, who otherwise would have been facing starvation.
A huge, huge thank you to everyone who has donated so far and helped us fund this programme, as well as also support the hospital in preparing to tackle COVID-19. Filmed last week, Andy, our CEO, and Tom from the Uganda Marathon team, provide a round-up and share their thanks.
Thank you so much once again for your support, and if you would like to make a donation, you can do so here. We commit to 100% of your donation going to help Masaka, and even a small amount will make a huge difference in enabling us to maintain the food programme during the lockdown, which looks set to remain for the foreseeable future.
Finally, please stay safe. We'll continue to keep you updated on our progress!
- Feed an individual for 3 weeks and provide soap -