With the Pandemic, came outbursts of domestic violence, child abuse, excessive poverty and misinformation. This has, on an additional note, affected greatly the already vulnerable families as majority worked hand-to-mouth jobs, leaving children and mothers the punching bags as fathers are frustrated by how they can still sustain their families.
The Stay safe Initiative is a project that came as a result of the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in Uganda. The Project started in March of 2020 after the Ministry of Health reporting the first Covid-19 case in Uganda. The Project is a response to the call of the Ministry of Gender, Labor and Social development for local organizations to support in the combating of the Pandemic and its effects to the people of Uganda. The Project is run by volunteer Youth in the community.
The Stay Safe Initiative’s goal is to protect the community through the COVID-19 crisis by fostering resilience through the lock-down, and rebuilding after the crisis. Only through resilience and rebuilding can vulnerable communities in Kammengo thrive during this Global crisis.
When the President announced the national lockdown, the already vulnerable families were affected greatly. Families without gardens and those who worked hand to mouth could no longer sustain their families, those who couldn’t save enough had to spend their business capitals in order for the family to get what to eat. Some fathers abandoned their families, mothers were left with the children of which they don’t have any were to get money children started dying of hunger and others committed suicide killing the innocent children.
The government tried to provide food to those who were so vulnerable and the affected ones but unfortunately Mpigi district which hold Kammengo sub-county wasn’t considered in the food distribution exercise. This left families without Gardens extremely vulnerable. Cloth markets are still closed leaving children that had 1 or 2 pairs of clothing to barely walk naked as they have to wear the same clothes every day until they are torn to pieces.
With the Pandemic, came outbursts of domestic violence, child abuse. This has, on an additional note, affected greatly the already vulnerable families leaving children and mothers the punching bags as fathers are frustrated by how they can still sustain their families. Children have to work to provide extra financial support to their families.
In the next year parents who have spent their capital and savings, if their businesses aren’t supported to revive, their children will not be able to attend school because they will not be able to afford school dues. Some children will decide not go back to school because they have already started to taste the 'sweetness' of money as they are now involved in child labor. Children’s academic poor performances are to be affected greatly as they can’t have access to revision that is provided by the government only through televisions
|How Other Organizations are combatting the Pandemic, and the gap analysis||How the sub-projects are to fill the gaps|
|UNICEF in partnership with the Ministry of Health posted informative posters around the country about Corona Virus preventive measures. They were printed in English yet a greater percentage of the population in Kammengo is uneducated||The Information Center will publish graphical content in both English and Luganda to provide facts and information to the greatest possible population. Even Child-friendly content about the Pandemic will be posted and distributed in Schools and Play grounds to enable children learn how to stop the spread of the Virus|
|Extreme Poverty has resolved to increase in corruption as Domestic violence criminals are no longer receiving help from the local leaders and the Police because the criminals bribe their way out.|| O4A through the Stay Safe Initiative’s Micro SME grants will award vulnerable families and the hardly-hit businesses a micro grant of 50,000UGX together with business ideas on how to maximize the received grant for sustainability|
|The government of Uganda distributed Food. Mpigi district was not considered for this opportunity, categorizing it as a farming district yet being on the immediate outskirts of the capital, most of the populations that couldn’t find their place in the Capital, are renting in Mpigi so as to easily access the capital for business. These families without gardens are left without help|| The Information Center will support victims of domestic violence get justice in collaboration with the local leaders, Probation officer and the Police; through reporting and referral and follow-ups.|
|The President is lifting the lock-down. Landlords are demanding rent for the 5 months the businesses have been closed, yet most families which didn’t have enough savings used capital to sustain their families during the lock-down|| The Micro SME Grant is expected to support businesses boost their income and be able to pay their rent dues|
|The government put up Covid-19 taskforces all over the Country. Youth have not been involved in this fight against the COVID-19 disease. Yet they are the key persons in spreading misinformation about the Pandemic|| The Information center will empower Youth volunteers to spearhead as they will be helped study online courses about Covid-19 and help in spreading information about the Pandemic and Domestic violence in their communities.|
|The Government has shared information about the Pandemic on Television and radio stations. Most of the Population in Kammengo don’t have Televisions, nor radios .|| The Information center will spread facts and information about the Pandemic and Domestic violence through beautifully designed posters, brochures and flyers, free of charge to the masses|
|Joy Initiatives Uganda is giving Micro loans to the community. These are to benefit only the HIV positive populations leaving out the rest of the populations.|| The Micro SME grants will support all affected business owners regardless of their HIV status, as long as they are vulnerable and need support.|
|Child’s I Foundation donated food to some families in Kammengo. Only one village benefitted in this support and the food donations were not able to sustain families for long.|| The Organization fundraises for the critically vulnerable families to get food. But the Micro SME grants sub-project is to additionally give business ideas of how to maximize the grant so that the family can sustain its self beyond the support of O4A|
Organization Headquarters to serve as an information center for Covid-19 and domestic violence with free counseling and referral of domestic violence victims. This is also to print graphical content to sensitize the community about the virus and domestic violence.
The Information Centre will provide access to news and facts about the Pandemic, fighting the increasing misinformation that puts the community at the highest risk of spreading the Corona virus, through printing of brochures, posters, flyers and stickers that will be distributed throughout the Sub County.
The information Centre will provide more information about Covid-19, how it spreads, prevention and its adverse effect such as increased numbers of domestic violence, and child abuse in the vulnerable household of Kammengo Sub County, Mpigi district. This subproject is to benefit the whole of Kammengo Sub County
Analysis: Problem worth Solving
The Rapid increase in the cases relating to Domestic Violence
Excessive Misinformation spearheaded by Youth that has left the population to disobey the directives of the President, the Ministry of health and World health Organization
Crime rates are on the rise as most Youth are now unemployed
Businesses bankruptcy brought about by the lock-down as Business owners used their Capital to sustain their families
Rent problems as land-lords are demanding fees for the months the population has been on total lock-down
The sub-projects will provide the following;
• Information & Facts about the Pandemic and Domestic Violence
• Legal and psychosocial support to the victims of Domestic violence
• Youth volunteers empowerment
• Micro Small & Medium enterprise booster grants or capital
• Referral services for the victims of Domestic violence
The Need: Corona Virus & Domestic Violence
• On 30th January 2020, the World Health Organization declared the Corona Virus a Public Emergency of International concern. Uganda’s President reacted fast by declaring a two weeks national lockdown on 30th March with several measures that restricted movements and promoted social distancing.
• Uganda confirmed its first case of the virus on March 22, and since then, 10 people have been infected, fifty-two of these recovered and the rest active but no deaths. On 14th April, a three weeks lockdown was again imposed, followed by the most recent- an extension on 5th May for another two weeks. However, the lockdown and the ensuing restrictions have had unprecedented impact on the livelihoods of Ugandans.
• As the Country is trying to ease the Lock-down, the President warned, “We are now in the hardest stage of the Pandemic spread, as some cases have been confirmed within Kampala, the Capital, and without a trace of where they were infected…” Even though it’s the case, many Ugandans still violate most of the guidelines such as social distancing, sanitizing or washing hands frequently and other SoPs for Public transport. More worse again, the Security forces are no longer concerned about the violation of the measures as corruption is the order of the day
• Before the lockdown, 46% of women experienced some form of physical violence from their partners, but this increased to 56 percent by the first week of the first phase of the lockdown. This rate is estimated to be much higher as the lockdown continues to bite. The rise of domestic violence has been attributed to the economic pressures exerted on families as a result of the lockdown. In addition, many people who were previously living under abusive relationships now have no escape from their abusers, because of the nationwide lockdown. People are undergoing stress, fatigue and depression due to insecurity and income worries which have fueled the domestic violence
• From March 31st to April 14th, 328 cases of domestic violence were reported to the Police nationwide. In one week from Monday 20th April -27th April the Police in Kampala, the capital city received 297 cases of domestic violence including 35 cases of home desertion by husbands who have run away after failing to provide food to their families. Similar cases of desertions and violence have been reported across the country, but the unreported cases could be much higher especially in rural areas where most people are either unaware of their rights or are far away from protective services.
• The rising level of domestic violence during this COVID-19 lockdown has attracted the attention of many actors. During his address to the nation on COVID-19 on 4th May, His Excellency the President, acknowledged the rising level of domestic violence and counselled people to desist from this. He advised that the family is the basis of life and that if there is disagreement, it should be resolved through a dialogue.
• Poverty and hunger in homes, are primarily causing marital instabilities during this lockdown but in response, the government started a program of food (Maize mill and Beans) distribution to vulnerable households. However, the definition of what a vulnerable household is remains contentious, and the distribution is inadequate as the food items scarcely lasts for a week. And besides, the distribution is only restricted to Wakiso and Kampala districts, considered the most hard- hit districts due to the lockdown, yet there are more than 120 districts in the country. The UN- Women and Embassy of Sweden in Uganda have called on all parties involved in the COVID-19 response to apply a gender and equity perspective in the overall response planning and implementation, to ensure that the required social and economic assistance reach the most vulnerable and marginalized.
The Reality on Ground: Corona Virus & Domestic Violence
• Sadly, the situation is the same in our community. At least majority of the population now know about the Pandemic, but there is still a big gap in information flow as many families don’t have a Television or radios to see or hear what is happening around the world, others are left out due to language barrier, as information is mostly shared in English. The misinformation and superstitions of many, considering the Virus the common Flu is putting many families at risk, as they fail to adhere to the Ministry of Health guidelines, rising the chances of the spread of COVID-19 virus within our Community.
• The Government didn’t consider Mpigi for the Food Distribution exercise which left families without Gardens extremely vulnerable. Most Business people used the Business capital to sustain their families during lock-down. On 20th of July, the President allowed Businesses to open again, but are now faced with a major challenge of paying rent as land lords demand the 5 months their businesses have been locked. Cloth markets are still closed leaving children that had 1 or 2 pairs of clothing to barely walk naked as they have to wear the same clothes every day until they are torn to pieces. Domestic Violence has increased everywhere due to family depression and poverty during these times of lock-down
Other Future services will include;
Our Headquarters will house an extensive non -circulating children’s library that will contain quality and updated books. It will also provide a resourceful library for children who are interested in making research and widening their knowledge. The library will be a collection of reference books that will enable the users to learn more about life skills and other relevant information.
It will also have an extension of the reading room which will provide conducive environment for learner’s personal reading and concentration.
O4A is dedicated to fostering information access to the community of Kammengo. In the future, the Organization is to house a computer lab for the community to access internet and avoid misinformation and superstitions that have always hindered its social-economic developments
Step 1: Identification of the vulnerable families with the help of the village local leaders.
Step 2: Assessing the identified families in order to understand their vulnerability levels and to identify their prevailing needs so as to provide appropriate support.
Step 3: Grouping in groups of 5-10 families according to their occupations or available capital per parish. These groups are to support them in saving and financial management of their businesses, share their experiences regarding their business line, and be able to receive micro loans from the organization.
Step 4: Group meetings will happen on a weekly basis. These will include electing simple group team leaders, sharing of business line experiences, savings and discussions for a joint group project to be funded by the project micro loans.
Step 5: Approving for the project micro loans. The micro grant office will consider the available capital to support the identified families (10 for quarter 1). Each family will receive up to 300,000ugx (81.09) from the micro loan project. The applicant families will fill the loan application and will need a recommendation from the village LC.1 chairperson and photocopy of the national ID for easy tracking and follow-up.
Step 6: The approved applicant families will receive a micro loan of up to $ 81.09 within 1 working day. These micro loans will be security free. The beneficiaries will be paying back $ 16.21 for 3 months. The $ 5.40 of each month will be an interest of the micro loan project to benefit more vulnerable families per quarter.
Step 7 : The monitoring team will visit recipients’ businesses twice and attend their group meetings once in a month. Each group team will give a monthly report to the monitoring team. Once a quarter, a survey will be carried out to individual families to learn the effect of the project and measure their progress financially. The OVCMIS child enrollment card will be filled per quarter to monitor the progress of each individual child.
Why we think it’s an effective approach
• Security free: Most vulnerable families in Kammengo don’t have securities needed to receive loans from banks and other micro finance associations. The project is to give security free micro loans for easy access to sustainability.
• Support groups: Not only is the project going to provide micro loans but also to provide an avenue of savings and business ideas to the families through the support groups. This will maximize the potential of families to grow financially.
• Identification & Assessment: The involvement of the local leaders and the assessment of the families will enable us to support those that are moderately and critically vulnerable; those that need help most.
• Easy & stress free: The project will give an easy and stress free loan within 1 working day.
• Low interest rates: The project is to give out loans at the lowest possible and achievable interest rate of $ 5.40 per month.
• Secure mechanism: The giving of micro loans through groups will help us minimize theft and misuse of the loans.
We are to teach families how they can start small businesses with only 50,000UGX. The identified vulnerable families will receive a grant of 50,000UGX as well as Business skills that will allow them boost their finances. The Project is expected to benefit over 500 vulnerable families.
Each person or family is planned to be given $13.51 as an emergency startup support in this lockdown to upgrade the family’s financial system.
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