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Slow delivery of relief food frustrates residents

FILE PHOTO: Government food relief

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | A cross-section of dwellers in Kampala and Wakiso is becoming impatient after more than four days of waiting for government relief food in vain.

The food, distributed through the Office of the Prime Minister is meant to support families whose livelihood was disrupted by the measures that the government put in place to control the spread of coronavirus.

Although the programme targeted to reach over 1.5 million people in a space of one week, the distribution team has only reached out to 25,548 people over the last four days. Each of the beneficiaries receives three kilograms of beans, six kilograms of flour and salt while lactating mothers and the sick are given two kilograms of powdered milk and two kilograms of sugar.

Ibrahim Ssenoga, a resident of Mbogo in Kawempe division, says that they have stayed home for over a week waiting for relief food which however it has not been delivered. Ssenoga adds that for the last four days, the distributing team has been rotating around one ward.

Olivia Nambalirwa, a resident of Kakungulu zone stresses that when they heard that the government was distributing food they consumed whatever they had to stock with the hope that the next few weeks will be covered by government supplies.

Livingstone Lukanga, another resident says that many of them now fear that they will never be reached by the service teams.

However, Lt. Col. Henry Obbo, the UPDF Land Forces spokesperson, the media contact person for the distribution team says that although they have enough manpower to distribute food relief and other essential items, their efforts are derailed by the shortage of pickup vehicle and poor organization at village levels.

Currently, there are only five teams which are distributing food in Kawempe. “We would be far if we had got the required pickups. With a few pickups, we can only cover a very small area. Imagine if we had around ten teams Kawempe alone,” Lt. Col. Obbo says.

In the same development, several residents and human activists have criticized the food distribution project saying that it is discriminative since local council one leaders have been given powers to point out families that should benefit and are using the the appearance of the house as a parameter for vulnerability.

Wakiso District Human Rights Committee chairperson Elly Kasirye observes that the food distribution process should be inclusive since all citizens regardless of their previous status have been affected by the lockdown.

But Security Minister Gen Elly Tumwine, also the head of the relief distribution programme says Kawempe has been a pilot which will inform distribution patterns in all other areas.

Gen Tumwine observes that at first, the initial plan was to gather people and distribute food in the shortest time possible. However, the idea was turned down due to a fear that bringing crowds in one place for food distribution was a precursor for the likely spread of coronavirus disease.

“It is the army in charge. We had a plan but as always, the first bullet changes almost everything and the situation on ground dictates the way how we handle the matter at hand,” says Gen Tumwine.

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