Uganda: 50 Percent Residents of Kagadi, Kyenjojo Hungry

A report on the immediate impact of Covid-19 lockdown on rural communities shows there is a significant decline in the wellbeing of the people and more of them are missing meals.

There has been a 60 per cent decline in household income since the lockdown started, according to the survey done between March 17 and 24 and telephone call follow ups between May 12 and 23.

In the assessment done in Kagadi and Kyenjojo districts of western Uganda, researchers found that at least 50 per cent of people from a sample of 1,277 households are suffering from hunger.

The survey randomly sampled respondents from 114 villages and had in person interviews and a follow up on phone.

"We find a decrease in wellbeing as a result of an increase in the likelihood of missing a meal, a decline in reported satisfaction with quality of life, a higher likelihood of having a major argument with spouse, and an increase in perceived frequency in intimate partner violence against women in the villages," the report reads in part.

The survey conducted by researchers Mahreen Mahmud and EMMA Riley on the "Evidence on the immediate impact of the Covid-19 lockdown on economic outcomes and well-being in rural Uganda" looks that household response to the extreme shock due to lockdown measures imposed by the government on businesses and public life from March 25.

According to the survey, more people are spending their savings and borrowing while they use their family members to work in available farm lands.

But there are also concerns of increase in prices of essential foods such as beans.

A May 2020 report by BRAC Uganda also indicates that countries such as Uganda, which imposed strict measures such as lockdowns are experiencing greater falls in income.

The 7pm to 6.30am curfew that has been in place for the last two months and the lockdown have significantly impacted lives across the country.

The ban on non-food items has made even the well to do cry foul since most depended on income from their enterprises as a source of livelihood.

With minimum government intervention on smoothing the impact of the lockdown on Small and Medium Enterprises, most businesses are expected to return to a smashed economy to pick up their ruins, with some building from scratch.

Consumption is expected to decrease further after the lockdown due to low disposable income as many of the richer cluster were mostly reliant on income from their enterprises.

Disputed report

However, Mr Vincent Ssempijja, the Agriculture minister, citing Kyenjojo District, rubbished the statistics, saying there no possibility that people are missing meals.

"That is not true. What would cause hunger in Kyenjojo District, of all places? We don't have such a thing. But let me find out about that, but those are not true figures," he said.

He, however, said there is a project waiting approval from Cabinet that will comprehensively address the threat that Covid-19 has posed to food security and productivity.

"There is a project which is yet to be approved by Cabinet where we need to handle production, productivity, storage, value-addition and food export post-Covid-19," he said.

"It has not yet been approved but there is a general consensus that we need to handle the issue of food security and production," he added.

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