WATSAN’s trustee board is in regular contact with the staff team in Uganda. The country is in lockdown but as providers of key health-related infrastructure, our staff are still working on WATSAN projects.
The COVID-19 pandemic seems to be in its early stages in Uganda, with 55 confirmed cases at the time of writing. The Government introduced social distancing and lockdown measures in late March, and the WATSAN office was temporarily closed before our staff received special permission from the Resident District Commissioner to use the project vehicle to travel within Rukungiri and Kanungu districts to oversee projects, as long as it carries no more than three people.
Masons and engineers are exempt from the lockdown and so can continue to carry out our vital water and sanitation projects, which will support communities to be more resilient against the virus. This includes work on Buhunga gravity flow scheme, Kinyasano High School, and pit latrines at Kihihi Hill. This is on the condition that staff stay on site rather than travelling home in between working days.
Nonetheless, our Field Director Eric Baingana reports that many homes have a shortage of food, prices for domestic necessities have gone up and many people are out of work as businesses have been closed down. The trustees are working with the team to make sure none of WATSAN’s staff is in financial crisis at this time.
Staff have been given hand sanitiser and face masks to protect themselves and others, and will also be provided with some stocks of maize flour and beans to help them at home.
Eric has preached on one of FM radios in Rukungiri town in a Sunday Service on air (meeting in church buildings for worship is currently prohibited), and as part of this shared a coronavirus prayer sent to him by TearFund. He tells us: “According to the listeners of the service and my sermon in particular, we are immensely encouraged according to the messages they sent to me after the service.”
The trustees will be keeping in touch with the team and assisting them in whatever way we can in the current crisis.