WHY DID GOVERNMENT DOWNSIZE THE NUMBERS OF THE VULNERABLE IN THE SECOND COVID-19 WAVE?

Published by Patra K on

Why did government downsize the numbers of the vulnerable in the second Covid-19 wave?

A military officer hands over food to a woman during the relief food distribution in Kampala, April last year. (Photo courtesy of People Daily)

On the 18th June 2021, while addressing the nation on the Covid-19 pandemic, President Yoweri Museveni directed the Prime Minister and Minister of Gender, Labour, and Social Development to identify and assess the needs of the vulnerable groups that depend on daily earnings and whose livelihoods would be disrupted as a result of the 42 days’ lockdown measures.

After the identification and needs assessment process of the vulnerable, cabinet in a meeting held on 28th June 2021, approved the proposal by the National Covid-19 Taskforce to transfer cash to the vulnerable persons in urban areas since it would cost less as compared to direct food relief distribution. The cash transfer aimed to reach 501,107 households in Kampala Metropolitan Area, all cities, and Municipalities. Each beneficiary household was to receive UGX 100,000 ($28). 

Government expected each household to expend the funds as follows:

Item

Unit

Qty

Unit Cost (UGX)

 Total (UGX)

Milled Maize/Posho

Kilogram

20

2,000

40,000

Beans

Kilogram

10

2,500

25,000

1 Bar of soap

Bars

1

3,000

  3,000

Cooking oil

Litres

3

4,000

12,000

Others

 

 

 

20,000

   

Cumulatively, if each of the 501,107 households received the Covid-19 relief funds and purchased 20 kilograms of posho and 10 kilograms of beans. It would imply that 10,022 metric tonnes of posho and 5,011 metric tonnes of beans would have been purchased. The 10,022 metric tonnes of posho would amount to UGX 20,044,000,000 ($5,638,594) while the 5,011 metric tonnes of beans would amount to UGX 12,527,500,000 ($3,524,825).

We must recall that during the Covid-19 first wave lockdown, government procured 14,102 metric tonnes of maize flour and 7,134 metric tonnes of beans costing UGX 35,240,000,000 ($9,915,373) and UGX 27,697,500,000 ($7,793,162) respectively as noted in the status report of Covid-19 procurements undertaken by the Office of the Prime Minister in the Financial Year 2020/2021. 

The procured Covid-19 food relief was directly distributed by government to households in the Kampala metropolitan area particularly Kampala and Wakiso district. According to the budget speech of Financial Year 2021/2022 delivered by Hon. Amos Lugolobi, it is clearly stated that government distributed Covid-19 relief food to vulnerable groups in 683,000 households in Kampala Metropolitan Area. 

SecretsKnown has discovered that government scaled down on the number of households that have or yet to benefit from the Covid-19 relief fund during the Second wave of Covid-19 lockdown. For instance, during the lockdown of the first wave of covid-19, 683,000 households of vulnerable groups in Kampala and Wakiso district were reported to have received the distributed Covid-19 relief food. 

In the second wave, however, government only targeted 501,107 households of vulnerable in the Kampala metropolitan area, all cities which are 10 in number with exception of Kampala and over 35 Municipalities. 

One would wonder why government decided to increase the areas to benefit from the Covid-19 relief fund and at the same time reduce the number of households earmarked to benefit from the fund. It must be noted that ever since the first lockdown measures were instituted by government in March 2020, the majority of Ugandans have spent most of their time out of work due to the devastating effect the pandemic had on the economy resulting into the collapse of some businesses which eventually rendered many Ugandans jobless.  

From that background, it would not have been prudent for government to have downsized the number of households to benefit from the Covid-19 relief fund because majority of Ugandans have been made vulnerable by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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