Gulu, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | A total of 120,000 families in Uganda whose livelihoods have been negatively affected by Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic will benefit from USD 10 million, approximately 36 billion Shillings’ direct cash transfers.
The programme, implemented by GiveDirectly, a nonprofit organization that lets donors send money to the world’s poorest backed by the Ministry of Local Government is funded by the U.S Agency for International Development – USAID.
Michael Kayemba, the GiveDirectly Country Director says the innovative direct cash giveaway project targets vulnerable Ugandans across the six newly created cities of Mbale, Moroto, Lira, Gulu, Kabale and Mbarara over the next three to five months, with a possibility of rolling out the programme to other cities later.
The initial roll-out direct cash transfers took place last week in Lira City on August 6, where about 10,000 beneficiaries from three parishes including Kakoge received 100,000 Shillings each, injecting USD 750, 000 (about 2.7 billion) into the local economy.
According to statistics from the Ministry of Health, Uganda had 1,297 cumulative cases of COVID-19 with nine deaths and 1,137 recoveries, as of Monday, August 10.
“Before COVID-19, many families were already facing difficult conditions. The pandemic is exposing these existing vulnerabilities and making them worse,” said Kayemba. He added that direct cash transfers supported by MTN and Airtel telecommunication companies can have a rapid and profound impact in this time of crisis to help these families make ends meet and avoid falling further into poverty.”
The team met local leaders in Gulu where they consulted to enrol four parishes yet to be nominated to benefit from the innovative project. Edward Kiwanuka, the interim Gulu City Town Clerk described the program as “too good to be true.”
John Charles Luwa, the interim Gulu City Economic Planner says there are several parishes in the newly created city that are very vulnerable thus such a programme would stimulate increased economic activities. There are currently 34 parishes that make Gulu City.
Raphael Magezi, the Minister for Local Government described the availability of the grant as an important moment for vulnerable Ugandans in the newly created cities who are struggling to fend for their livelihoods.
According to the design of the project, Ugandans do not need to register themselves to be eligible for the programme but will be identified through the socio-economic data of the telecommunication companies targeting the poorest areas in each city to ensure fairness and equity.
Cell phone subscribers who live in the selected vulnerable parishes of the cities will be contacted, asked for their consent, and then offered a cash transfer or through SMS messages, automated calls or call centre agents.
Founded in 2009, GiveDirectly ranked a top international charity organization has delivered over USD 260 million in cash directly into the hands of over 270,000 households living in poverty across the world.