National Community Engagement Strategy for COVID-19 Response in Uganda

Thursday, 29 October 2020 10:27 Written by
Uganda Red Cross Secretary General Mr. Robert Kwesiga addressing the Press
at the launch of the Community Engagement Strategy , at Hotel Africana

Uganda Red Cross joins the Government of Uganda to launch the National Community Engagement Strategy for COVID-19 Response in Uganda.

Kampala – October 20th, 2020 By Irene Nakasiita – Coordinator Communications and Public Relations - URCS

On October 20th, 2020, the Government of Uganda launched the National Community Engagement Strategy for COVID-19 response to curb the spread of the Corona Virus in communities. Uganda is currently experiencing phase four of COVID-19 outbreak with widespread community transmission amidst low levels of adherence to the COVID-19 SOPs as guided by the Ministry of Health.

Through a consultative process, the government directed that the Community Engagement Strategy (CES) Sub Committee be established which has been merged with the Community Health Committee to form the National Community Engagement Strategy, chaired Prof. Omaswa. The Uganda Red Cross is a member of the National Taskforce and an implementing partner of the strategy.

While launching this strategy at a function organized by Uganda Red Cross Society and held at hotel Africana in Kampala on 20th October 2020, the Prime minister Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda said the approach will ensure that all people in Uganda are aware, empowered and participate actively in the prevention and control of COVID-19 as both a duty and a right using the existing structures, systems and resources. “We shall be handing over the responsibility to control COVID-19 to individual Ugandans, households and communities. All stakeholders should ensure that this strategy which has worked in managing and handling other diseases like Ebola and HIV is effectively implemented.” The Premier added.

The strategy will be implemented by different government ministries including Ministry of Health, Ministry of Gender Labor and Social Development, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Ministry of Defense as well as non-government agencies. Civil Society Organizations have also been brought on board through the Uganda Red Cross Society and the African Center for Global Health and Social Transformation (ACHEST).

Prof. Francis Omaswa the chairperson of the CES subcommittee said that under this strategy, every village will be required to establish a village COVID-19 task force which will provide community based surveillance and case detection including deaths, Community case management including self-isolation, community based drug distribution and referrals as appropriate, community contact tracking and reporting among other roles.

“The task force which will be headed by the respective village chairpersons and councils will also include Village Health Team members one of whom will be a full time community health worker, a Uganda Red Cross Society officer at branch / community level, the parish chief, CDOs, Religious leaders, Schools representatives, health facility representatives, CSOs, volunteers and private sector among others” Said Prof. Omaswa.

Robert Kwesiga the Secretary General Uganda Red Cross Society one of the key partners said they will be part of the teams that will be coordinating the activities of this community engagement right from the district to the village level. Uganda Red Cross will also train all key players using the expertise from previous cases managed like Ebola and the IFRC Community Engagement Approach.

“Our managers at districts will work with the district health teams in coordinating the activities of this community engagement during training, monitoring and support supervision. Our volunteers are going to be part of these community engagement committees that will be responsible for real time sharing of information, education surveillance and making sure that if there are cases they are referred.” Said Kwesiga.

To date, Uganda has registered 10,788 COVID-19 cases, 7,066 recoveries and 97 deaths.

Uganda Red Cross Society Constructs Boreholes in Kyangwali Refugee Settlement

Tuesday, 29 September 2020 19:22 Written by
Community Members praying over the new constructed borehole at the
day of commissioning it

Uganda Red Cross Society Constructs Boreholes in Kyangwali refugee settlement (Maratatu D-24) and Nabisojjo village (Hosting Community).

Two production wells have been constructed in Kyangwali refugee settlement and Nabisojjo village, Kyangwali parish, Kikuube district by the Uganda Red Cross in partnership with International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

The borehole constructed in the host community (Nabisojjo) will serve 98 households with approximately 540 individuals, while the one in the refugee settlement (Kyangwali) will serve 213 households, with a population of approximately 1089 individuals.

The boreholes were recently commissioned with representation from local leadership, Hand pump mechanics and water user committee representatives who have been assigned to oversee the sustenance of water operations in the communities. Uganda Red Cross also gave the community hand pump tool kits to support them during any repairs as part of ownership for a sustainable and self-reliant community.

While maintaining the water sources, Uganda Red Cross has sensitized the community and water user committee members to ensure that after handing over the water source to them, the community will continuously access clean and safe drinking water for their good health. While handing over the bore holes and repair kits to the community water user committees, Martha Imamut, the Uganda Red Cross Kyangwali refugee response operations manager emphasized the need to have the water sources clean and ownership by the community.

Drilling underway

“Access to safe and clean water means we shall all have improved health because without clean water we shall fall sick and lose life. We want you to keep the boreholes clean, your water collection cans clean, wash your hands and drink clean water always. We also want you to repair the boreholes when they break down and also the committees should have responsibility of ensuring that you own this as your community project.” Imamut said.

“The Red Cross will now leave you to manage this and we hope the tool kits we have given will help you during repairs. The water user committees have also been trained, your community leaders trained before handing over this water to you. Since we have a branch office nearby, we will only come in when it is a MUST but we want you to own the water sources and live a good life.” Imamut added.

John Mugisa a trained Hand pump mechanic appreciated Uganda Red Cross for providing safe water in their communities. He further said; “I thank the Uganda Red Cross for organizing for us a training for pump mechanics where I acquired very good skills in borehole operation and maintenance. The knowledge acquired will help me to support community in ensuring proper and continuous functionality of the boreholes. I am now a champion, will regularly check on the boreholes and pass information to the water user committee and the district water office.” Mugisa said.

Ann Tuhaisemu, the treasurer for the Water Use Committee at Nabisojjo has lived in the village for 32 years. She had never seen a borehole constructed in this community. She further explains; “I have been fetching water from Kalozo dam which is very far and we have been sharing the water with animals. The dam is very open and not protected at all. When it rains, all water carrying all sorts of dirty things ends up in the dam. We have been falling sick and getting stomach complications but the constructed borehole has now given us Joy. The water is clean and clear.” Tuhaisemu is happy.

Maratatu D Bore hole

As the treasurer for her group Water Use Committee, Tuhaiseomu said she will ensure that all funds the community members have accepted to contribute by each house hold in the village (1,000/= per month per household) towards the maintenance of the borehole will be kept in safe hands and accountability will always be presented to all the members during monthly village meetings.

Above all, proper records shall be kept in books of accounts that she will always present to the Secretary of the Water User Committee during the committee meetings. “Mothers, children, the elderly and differently abled people will benefit most since they no longer have to walk long distances to fetch water.” Tuhaisemu said.

Uganda Red Cross WASH Officer inspecting the borehole at Nabisojjo village

Government Of Uganda Handsover 10 Ambulances To Uganda Redcross Society

Tuesday, 29 September 2020 07:49 Written by
URCS Secretary General Robert Kwesiga (Right) and the Prime Minister during
flagging off of the ambuklances.

Uganda Red Cross Society with support from the Government of Uganda will today deploy 10 ambulances to support emergency response activities across 10 districts along major highways in Uganda. The selected highways are also considered hot spot areas that are prone to accidents and the ambulances will support emergency evacuations.

While commissioning and handing over the ambulances, the Prime Minister of Uganda Rt. Hon. Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda noted that the work done by the Uganda Red Cross as part of their mandate as stipulated in the Red Cross Act as an integral part of the deliverables by the office of the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Health.

“We trust the Uganda Red Cross and the proficiency they have exhibited over time. The Government of Uganda trusts that you will deliver on this mandate in close coordination with the Ministry of Health. Go and serve the nation.” Rugunda said.

Through the annual budget allocation to Government institutions and directorates, the Uganda Red Cross in the year 2019 /2020 received funding worth 8.35bn shillings through the Ministry of Health. Part of this funding was allocated towards construction of a Health Centre III in Bunambutye to support the families relocated from Bududa (on going), while the remaining funds were directed towards procurement of ambulances and relief nonfood item kits to respond to disaster affected families.

The Permanent Secretary Ministry of Health Dr. Diana Atwine highlighted the dream of having an ambulance fleet for every region with call centers. She further acknowledged that Red Cross is a trust worthy partner in managing the ambulances.

Rt. Hon. Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda flagging off ambulancesat the office of the
Prime Minister.

“The Government of Uganda works with partners to reach the people of Uganda everywhere they are. The Red Cross is one of the partners and globally we have seen Red Cross in other countries managing emergency Health Services. We trust that they will manage these ambulances well” Atwine said.

Robert Kwesiga the General secretary Uganda Red Cross thanked the Government of Uganda for trusting Red Cross with the mandate to manage this very important landmark in the country since the plan to procure the ambulances has been on the drawing board for a long time.

“The communities need these ambulances to help in the quick evacuation of the accident victims and other emergency cases than before. We therefore say thank you to the Government of Uganda for your support and we pledge to continue serving Ugandans as per our mandate” Kwesiga added.

Uganda Red Cross will deploy 10 ambulances, with committed staff and trained response and rescue teams to support the ambulance operations at the 10 districts where these will be stationed.

The ambulances will be stationed at the following highways (districts): Kampala (2 at URCS HQTRs, Jinja (1), Mbale (1), Masaka (1) Lira, (1), Gulu, (1), Mbarara (1), Kabarole (1), and Hoima (1).

Dr. Brian Kanahe First Aid Manager explaining to the Prime Minister how equipments
in the ambulance work.

URCS extends support to farmers in Bidi Bidi and Palorinya Refugee Settlements

Saturday, 12 September 2020 08:04 Written by
Chairman Taban Yasin Launching the seed fare.

With support from the German Red Cross, Uganda Red Cross Society launched a seed fair in Yumbe District on 19th June, 2020, which enabled both refugees and host communities living in Bidi Bidi and Palorinya settlements obtain seeds of their choice to grow food crops.

Following the Government’s standard operating procedures to fight COVID-19, the launch of the seed fair was held at Ariwa Reception Center in Bidi Bidi Zone 5 settlement center. More than 1,000 households in Bidi Bidi and 300 from Palorinya benefited from this activity.

While launching the seed fair, Taban Yasin, the Yumbe district chairperson, thanked Uganda Red Cross for supporting the work of the district task force by complementing the government’s efforts in the fight against COVID-19, as well as supporting the refugees in the hard times of the COVID-19 situation.

“Giving seeds to our local people is a very good strategy, since food security is vital during these trying times of the pandemic, so thank you Red Cross for the great initiative." Taban said.

He also cautioned the local community to continue following the standard operating procedures to stop the virus from spreading to the people in Yumbe.

Beneficiaries ready to buy seeds using the seed voucher.

Each beneficiary received a voucher worth 98,000 shillings, and he or she picked seeds of their choice, worth of their voucher. Michael Nabugere, the Settlement Commandant, Bididi Office of the Prime Minister, noted that in 2017 refugees did not want to engage in agricultural practices since they were entitled to receive 100 percent of their food from the Government.

However, due to loss of funding and capacity during COVID-19, the Government was only able to supply 30 percent of the refugees’ food needs, so the refugees had to engage in farming. The Red Cross seed fair was therefore a good strategy to improve on food security in the settlement. “We thank the Red Cross for coming in timely. The refugees cannot get all the food they used to get before.

The food rations were cut by 30% and this gap can be bridged when refugees start growing their own food.” Nabugere said. Chiranjibi Rijal, a delegate from the German Red Cross, noted that Community Engagement and Accountability Modernity (CEA) is very important in such activities because it gives a beneficiary the chance to choose what they actually want.

“Before we designed the voucher, we consulted the beneficiaries to select seeds of their choice. Another important aspect was to improve on the local economy by inviting local suppliers to be part of the seed fair and refugees have secured seeds from the local suppliers.” Rijal said. He also thanked Uganda Red Cross for implementing the program successfully.

Programs Manager at Uganda Red Cross explaining more about the seed
fare to Chairperson Yumbe District .

According to Simon Anyanzo Lenin, Programs Manager at Uganda Red Cross, in addition to the seeds, each beneficiary received a pair of gumboots, 2 kgs of groundnuts. 2 kg of maize, 1 kg of beans, 1 kg of peas, vegetables such as okra, pan sawani (50 gms), eggplant (10 gms), and dodo greens (10 gms). Simon thanked the German Red Cross for funding the project and promised to push it to other villages.

Afika Jamal, a refugee in Bidi Bidi and one of the beneficiaries, thanked Uganda Red Cross for coming up with the seed fair and promised to use what he got appropriately to feed his family and improve their welfare. Feni Gard, the agriculture officer of Yumbe district, emphasized the high quality of the seeds, saying that they were inspected by the team and ready for use.

Feni also thanked the Red Cross for maintaining quality during the fair. Yumbe District has a population of more than 700,000 residents, including 213,000 refugees who are mostly from South Sudan.

a volunteer helping beneficiaries o under stand whatthe seed fare
is all about .
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URCS Contacts

Plot 551/555 Rubaga Road.
P.O. Box 494, Kampala Uganda.
Tel:     (256) 414 258701
Tel:     (256) 414 258702
Email: sgurcs@redcrossug.org

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