Uganda announces new plans to speed up COVID-19 relief food distribution exercise in Kampala
Government of Uganda expects to complete COVID-19 relief food distribution to the lockdown affected persons in the Kampala Metropolitan area in the next few days despite challenges that have retarded the process.
Musa Ecweru, the State Minister for Relief and Disaster Preparedness said relief food distribution to COVID-19 vulnerable people in Kampala was temporarily affected due to shortages in supplies and administrative bottlenecks that featured in the exercise.
“The second thing that has slowed down food distribution is the consideration of the quality of food. We’ve decided and continue to consider very very seriously that we must never compromise the quality however urgent the need for food. So, quality while we need quantity, we must not compromise the quality,” Ecweru said.
The Army who are conducting food distribution is to scale up teams in the five divisions of Kampala while some ministers have also been allocated earlier to supervise the process to speed up distribution which is expected to end in a week.
“We have now provided more personnel and logistics and a decision to accelerate the distribution as the Hon Ministers have just briefed you,” Brig. Richard Karemire, UPDF Spokesperson said.
Betty Amongi, Minister for Kampala speaking said that the line of ministers selected to oversee the process of food distribution is to give an immediate decision on COVID-19 relief food when the need arises.
“These Ministers will be there from morning to evening so that when there’s need for a quick decision, there’s a political person at the highest level who can make a quick decision at the division level,” Amongi said.
Also, the government rejected requests from members of the public to have food distributed communally instead of the house to house approach which is being used by the military.
Relatedly, non-Ugandans are not part of the group benefiting from the COVID-19 food relief. According to distribution guidelines, the food is supposed to be distributed to only Ugandan nationals.
While in Kisenyi slum distributing relief food, Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) refused to supply food to the refugees surviving in the area, saying they are not part of those destined to receive COVID-19 relief food aid from the government.
UPDF spokesperson of the Land Forces, Lt. Col. Henry Obbo says they are following strict guidelines as provided by the government.
“People who we’ve got within the slums and they have refugees status, I think they are in a wrong place, they should be able to move to the place which is gazetted for them, so that they are capable of receiving assistance there. Theirs is given differently from this; they have, even more, more entitlement, so hiding within the slums will not assist them,” Obbo said.
Kisenyi slum is home to non-nationals including Congolese, Sudanese and refugees from Somalia. According to Obbo, unless one holds a Ugandan National ID he/she will not receive any form of relief food.
“Any person with refugee status, they are not even supposed to be staying inside those slums, they are supposed to be in a gazetted position like say in a refugee camp. So, it becomes a little bit challenging, but as far as I know, the Office of the Prime Minister and all other UN arrangements are there to cater for the refugees,” Obbo noted.
Just like the refugees, some Ugandans living in Katanga slums were also frustrated with the food distribution process; after they were denied food relief, in particular, those with small businesses within their residences, according to the distribution team they are not eligible for food donations.
Over 34,000 households with an estimated total of 94,000 persons have received relief food so far.
In another report regarding COVID-19 relief, food indicates that the government is currently experiencing a shortage of beans for COVID-19 relief project as more people donate maize flour and fewer beans.
Minister for General Duties also the National Coordinator for COVID-19 National Response Fund, Mary Karooro Okurut revealed that there’s a shortage of beans in storage because more people are donating maize flour and fewer beans.
“On behalf of the president and the people of Uganda thank you. But we’ve already told you that the committee which is charged with food distribution says there’s a shortage of beans,” Karooro revealed.
Karooro then appealed to businessmen and women dealing in beans to sell them to people who are donating so that they can help fill the gap of shortage of beans to feed the vulnerable communities.
“So we appeal to whoever can supply beans should come forward and bring the beans, as long as they are of good quality.”