Civil Society Organisations operating within the country have advised Government to put in place better strategies to ensure that the Covid relief funds benefit the vulnerable as intended.
Over the weekend, Rt Hon Robbinah Nabbanja, the Prime Minster, announced that Covid relief will be given in form of money and not food stuffs as in the previous lockdown.
She said the money will be sent via electronic transfers like Mobile Money for people to purchase food of their choice.
Agness Kirabo, the Executive Director of Food Rights Alliance, in a zoom press briefing, advised Government to inform people about the eligibility criteria for the beneficiaries.
She said by disclosing to the public the procedure of choosing who should get the money is a sign of transparency.
“We don’t want to get back to the past whereby some Senior Government officials were pointed out for engaging in payment of ghost workers and pensioners. It will be unfair if people who have everything grab this money,” Kirabo said.
She further noted that it’s unfortunate for Government to lack a proper register of vulnerable individuals which could have been of great importance while issuing out the relief funds.
Hellen Kasujja, the Programs Director at CIDI Uganda, noted that for effective implementation of this initiative, Boda Bodas should be allowed to carry people to markets to access the food stuffs they need.
She added that most Ugandans prefer buying food of their choice on a daily basis but in the current situation, it requires them to send some body (boda boda rider) to market to buy for them “which is very hard.”
David Kabanda, Executive Director Center for Food and Adequate Living Rights (CEFROHT), pointed out that Government needs to sensitize people before giving them money like directing them to where they can get better food stuffs at a relatively cheap prices so that the money can serve the intended purpose.
“Members of the General public should work together especially during such periods to demand accountability from Government as far as public expenditure is concerned,” he added.
Kabanda noted that incase Government fails to identify who the vulnerable Ugandan is, those who won’t benefit will look at it as segregation.
Patrick Rubangakene, a Budget Specialist from Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group( CSBAG), asked Government to always be prepared for such occurrences like the Covid-19 pandemic “to avoid fidgeting at the last hour.”
“The first Lockdown affected the country but its surprising to see that since then, nothing has been done by the Government to prepare for a similar occurrence,” he said.
On who should get the money for the family, CSOs advised Government to consider the mothers arguing that it’s rare for a woman to fail to provide for her family.
The Civil Society representatives of also noted that however much planning may be needed, Government should start as soon as possible to give out money before people start dying of hunger.
They also discouraged the act of referring to beneficiaries as ‘Vulnerable Poor’ “because it’s not only the poor who have been affected but even those who had not prepared for the Lockdown.”