Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Khisa Isaac | The Coca-Cola Foundation (TCCF) handed over a substantial financial donation to the Uganda Red Cross Society as a contribution towards Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) activities that will be implemented in high traffic areas and other activities relating to coronavirus pandemic.
The Shs 186milion donated will go towards promotion of mandatory hanwashing and support risk communication for COVID-19 with URCS as the implementing partner.
Speaking at the handover event at UMA Showgrounds in Lugogo, the Uganda Red Cross Society Secretary General, Robert Kwesiga applauded Coca-Cola for its humantarian efforts at both a national and global level and for being a reliable partner in saving lives.
“Even before the outbreak of coronavirus, we were partners with Coca-Cola. We have implemented several initiative with them as our partners. Last year when there were landslides in Budibugyo, Coca-Cola was among the first companies to respond in saving lives of the people affected in the area,” he said.
“ Now with CVID-19, Coca-Cola has been responsive both at a national- working with us locally and globally – supporting the International Red Cross.”
Globally, The Foundation has extended support to both international and local NGOs, such as the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Socieities (IFRC) and Amref Health by deploying a range of resources, including capabilities, funds and products to support governments, communities and local enconomies in their urgent efforts to contain the spread and impact of coronavirus.
At the on-set of COVID-19, The Coca-Cola Foundation donated food relief packages worth Ush360million to vulnerable households in Mukono District through the Uganda Red Cross Society.
The company also donated WASH materials to ensure that people wash their hands as one of the key preventative measures against COVID-19.
Kwesiga further added that, scientists ealier this year predicted that November and December would be the peak of COVID-19 cases. Uganda now has 23,200 COVID-19 cases so far and hundreds succumbed to the diease.
“If we behave, we can manage this virus. If you wash your hands, keep your mask on, keep social distance, we can manage COVID-19. As much we are doing everything possible (all state actors), COVID-19 has now reached stage 4; that is now community which is difficult to control. How do we manage this?
Medical aspects becomes one of the elements but the bigger element right now is around community engagement; people need to take responsibility, people need to take charge,” Kwesiga cautioned.
This development comes barely a month since the government through the National TaskForce and the Ugand Red Cross Society announced plans to roll the community engagement strategy.
“This calls for people at village level to form committes where they can do surveilence, carry out education and also learn how to make refferals where its necessary. With the support we have received from Coca-Cola, this will be made possible,” he shared.
The project is to be implelmented in the areas of western Uganda; Mbarara, Kabale, Kisoro, Kanungu, Isingiro, Ntungamu and Mutukula.
In the Central region, the focus will be on the two Taxi parks in Kampala which have very high foot-traffic.
“The Coca-Cola system is bulit on a ‘people first approach’. It is our north star in all our business dealings. Supporting our people and the economy to full recovery is our biggest priority right now. We believe a business is as strong as the community it operates in and that’s why we put the safety of our people first at all times – our employees, their families, our customers and the community,” said Melkamu Abebe, General Manager, Coca-Cola Beverages Africa in Uganda (CCBA).
“All of us have an individual responsibility to follow the guidelines given by the Government so that we avoid contracting the disease, and so that we protect others. At Coca-Cola Beverages Africa we say a pledge every single day – ‘I am my Sister’s Keeper, I am my Brother’s Keeper and I am my Family’s Keeper’ We have a responsibility for everybody else,” he added.
During this COVID-19 pandemic, the CCBA engaged in various interventions from public awareness worth Shs 460million and three pick-up trucks for the Ministry of Health COVID-19 Task Force, and Shs 85million to the Ministry of Health to buy medical equipment and sundries.
The company also commited to support the Minsitry of Health to set-up 5,000 handwashing stations across the country. So far, five (5) 5,000litre Community Handwashing Stations for the general public use have been set-up in Mukono (Namanve), Kampala (Kyambogo) and Mbarara (Makenke and Municipality) and distributed over 1,700 handwashing jerry cans in the community. In total, the company has invest 1.3billion to the wider community.
“We continue to work with different partners to support COVID-19 relief responses for the communities in which we operate across the region. This includes provision and distribution of medical supplies, bulk water and soap to vulnerable communities, donating beverages to healthcare workers and setting up hand-washing stations in areas of need. We have also put a lot of effort in disseminating public health messages to foster behavior change, which we believe it critical in fighting the spread of COVID-19,” said Ms. Diana Apio Kasyate, Relations Manager Coca-Cola East and Central Africa Franchise.