Uganda’s State Minister for Disaster Preparedness Hon Musa Ecweru on Wednesday 6th May 2020 presided over a Government of Uganda supported relief food distribution initiative by top religious leaders in Uganda, under their umbrella association known as the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda (IRCU) and explained the progress that has been made delivering food to vulnerable communities and families affected by lockdown measures.
The function took place in Masajja, along Busabala road in Wakiso District and was also witnessed by IRCU Chairperson, the Supreme Mufti of Uganda Sheikh Mubajje, Bishop Joshua Lwere, Pastor Serwadda among others.
The decision to allow religious leaders to support and participate in food distribution followed a meeting the leaders had with President Yoweri Museveni who gave them the nod, with clear instructions that the exercise should follow guidelines on social distancing, wearing face masks, handwashing among others.
Hon Ecweru said that the Government had as of yesterday 5th May 2020 distributed food to 800,000 most affected people out of the targeted 1 million people in Kampala. He said they are working around the clock to cover the remaining 200,000 in Kampala by the end of this week.
The food distribution exercise targets reaching a total of 1.5million people in Kampala and Wakiso (1m in Kampala and 500,000 in Wakiso) .
In addition, he explained the causes of delays in the food distribution exercise, citing the complexity and inaccessibility of many areas that have to be reached.
He said that majority of slum settlements in and around Kampala are difficult to access and the distribution team of UPDF, Police and Red Cross have had to navitage areas that can’t easily be reached using vehicles, requiring the teams to walk through alleyways, jumping small streams on slippery surfaces while carrying sacks of beans, posho and milk to reach the people.
But most importantly, Mr Ecweru explained, the mode of distribution of door to door to be consistent with the social distancing guidelines inevitably meant that teams have had to move slowly, surely and but safely, otherwise in an effort to distribute food quickly, you could risk distributing COVID-19 as well.
The Minister further explained that to make matters worse, in some places, people stay in places with no doors–in channels, along pavements and under makeshift shelters. These too have to be found and served.
He however comforted people that lessons have been learnt and new measures and additional manpower mobilized to fast track the exercise.
Hon Ecweru thanked President Museveni for providing effective strategic leadership in the fight against COVID-19 and called upon the public to continue heeding all the directives and guidelines from Government.
He thanked the religious leaders for their cooperation and for guiding their followers to act in accordance with the guidelines.
On quality of relief items, Mr Eweru said food that goes out for distribution is fit for human consumption after being subjected to tests by Uganda National Bureau of Standards. He said that Unbs was brought on board to specifically tes and certify food for the safety of Ugandans.
The IRCU will work with Government to distribute food in Wakiso, targeting to reach the estimated 500, 000 most affected people. With the combined effort, it is expected that the exercise will be faster.
In his remarks, the Mufti, Sheik Mubajje also thanked President Museveni for making the right decisions at the right time in the fight against COVID-19.
He said it was of because of the President taking and making the right decisions at the right time that Uganda is fairing well in the management of Coronavirus.