Wealthy households received more support during lockdown – Survey

Government food relief distribution exercise to civilians affected by the lockdown, in Kampala
Members of Local Defence Unit (LDU) offload relief food during a distribution exercise to civilians affected by the lockdown, as part of measures to prevent the potential spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Kampala, Uganda April 4, 2020. COURTESY PHOTO/REUTERS/Abubaker Lubowa

Kampala, Uganda | URN | Relatively wealthy people received more support, in cash and in-kind, compared to those who needed aid during the COVID-19 lockdown.

These were the findings of a survey undertaken by Sauti za Wananchi at Twaweza Uganda between May and June 2020 the time when the country was in a lockdown occasioned by an outbreak of coronavirus disease.

The survey established that with mounting financial pressures, more Ugandans were in dire need of support. However, only one out of ten were able to receive support in the last two months.

The report indicates that Urban households had three times more chances of getting support than rural homes. But still, the rich households within the urban setup, received more support from the government, Non-government Organizations, and other actors, as the distribution of relief favoured the haves, according to Marie Nanyanzi, the programmes officer at Twaweza Uganda.

Nanyanzi says that the report provides some early insight into a new economic order for Ugandans following COVID-19 with the intensifying pressure on citizens’ ability to meet basic needs put out very clear.

It, for instance, points out that more people are deleveraging and therefore not borrowing whereas the big percentage is selling off their assets to cope with the mounting pressure on their incomes. But despite these increased pressures, when asked who they would turn to for help if there was not enough money, more people noted that say they would not ask for help.

“Important changes in people’s spending and financial management are already apparent – from quiet belt-tightening to growing unwillingness to ask for help from neighbours… Without thoughtful and assertive interventions, all Ugandans may face even harder times ahead,” she noted.

Bernard Mujuni, the Commissioner for Equity and Rights at the Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development blames the inequality in support distribution to the fact that the lockdown left almost everybody disadvantaged making it difficult to identify who could be supported, when, and to what extent.

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Mujuni further notes that the development was as well brought by the absence of a targeting framework in the form of a social registry. He, however, notes that the government is moving towards a caring economy putting up social infrastructure in form of programmes.

Meanwhile, the survey also found out that on average, Ugandan households have been spending at least 10,800 Shillings per day during the lockdown down from 14,100 Shillings spent before the lockdown. However, the drop is much experienced in rural areas.

On the side of businesses, the study shows that a significant 4 out of 10 Ugandans are no longer operating because of the lock-down or due to other COVID-19 mitigation and management measures.