He emphasized that community buy-in is critical to the relaxation of existing necessary restrictions to movements, requirement for social distancing and sanitizing. He commended all health workers, security forces and immigration officials at the forefront of the fight against the pandemic.
The launch was telecast live over Uganda Broadcasting Services (UBC). In conformity with social distancing guidelines, only a handful of people attended the launch event while hundreds of people including, heads of United Nations agencies; UNDP, UNICEF, FAO, WFP, UNHCR and UNCDF, several development partners, civil society, media and citizens attended the launch via Zoom, thanks to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
As part of support to Uganda’s response against COVID-19, UNDP is supporting Government business continuity through digitalization. UNDP recently provided a collaboration tool, Zoom, and an assortment of ICT gadgets to worth $697,000 to enable virtual government business continuity as routine operations in several government ministries, departments and agencies were suspended and non-essential staff were asked to work from home.
The package included Zoom Collaboration Tool Licenses, computers (laptops) and HD video conferencing cameras. In so doing, UNDP is leveraging digital innovation to enable the government to maintain its core functions, and to plan, coordinate, communicate and finance its response to COVID-19 in a robust manner. This initiative is also expected to accelerate and promote e-governance in the medium-to-long term.
Over 100 government institutions have key officials registered and enabled to remotely video-conference in supporting government business continuity. Notable examples include the Office of the Prime Minister, the Office of the President, Parliament, Ministry of Local Government, and Ministry of ICT and National Guidance.
‘Don’t forget other emergencies’
Mr. Robert Kwesiga, the Secretary General of the Uganda Red Cross Society, said that COVID-19 should not take away attention from other emergencies, existing and unfolding. “The rainy season has just begun leading to flooding and landslides in Kasese and Ntoroko districts of the Mt. Rwenzori region, respectively. Flooding and landslides have a great impact on health and sanitation,” Mr. Kwesiga said.
Ms. Rita Aciro, the Executive Director of the Uganda Women’s Network (UWONET), who represented civil society, stated that emergency situations like the one created by COVID-19 can exacerbate inequalities.
“They overlap with prevailing socio-economic challenges to create multiple levels of social injustice, especially among women and girls, the elderly and people with disabilities,” Ms. Aciro explained, adding that civil society is willing to work with the UN to ensure that the vulnerable people remain alive.