Skip to main content

UNICEF Uganda Humanitarian Situation Report No. 3 - March 2020

Publication date


• Uganda confirmed its first case of the novel coronavirus (COVID19) on 21 March 2020. As of 31 March, 44 cases had been confirmed, with no deaths. Thirty per cent of all COVID-19 cases in Uganda are children.

• As co-chair of the Risk Communication Social Mobilization subcommittee of the National Task Force for COVID-19, UNICEF has supported the Ministry of Health (MoH) in revising, translating, producing, and disseminating standardised messages on signs and symptoms, modes of transmission, and prevention.

• No cases of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) have been confirmed in Uganda as of March 2020.

• 316 unaccompanied and separated refugee children (164 boys, 152 girls) received appropriate care as of March 2020.

• 37,298 children (18,638 boys, 18,638 girls) accessed formal and non-formal education in the refugee-hosting districts in the West Nile sub-region and western Uganda as of March 2020.

• 6,502 children (3,211 boys, 3,291 girls) were treated for severe acute malnutrition (SAM) in refugee-hosting districts and Karamoja as of March 2020.

Funding Overview and Partnerships

The 2020 UNICEF Humanitarian Action for Children (HAC) appeal for Uganda is seeking US$50.12 million to sustain the provision of life-saving services to vulnerable women and children. UNICEF carried forward funds totaling US$12,642,147, which have enabled UNICEF and its partners to continue implementing humanitarian interventions. In 2020, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) and the UNICEF Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Office (ESARO) have contributed US$593,225 and US$132,503 respectively to UNICEF Uganda’s humanitarian response. However, the 2020 HAC still has a funding gap of US$36,752,104 or 73 per cent. UNICEF seeks additional funding to complement the government’s efforts to protect the rights of children affected by emergencies.
In light of the COVID-19 emergency, UNICEF Uganda is appealing for an additional US$11.37 million for the COVID-19 response. UNICEF has so far received US$540,000, a generous contribution from UKAid, leaving a funding gap of US$10.8 million or 95 per cent. If these funds are availed, they will enable UNICEF and partners to ensure coordination and leadership, risk communication and social mobilization (RCSM), continuation of education services to children who are out of school, case management, infection prevention and control, WASH, and treatment including nutrition and mental health and psychological support. To meet immediate COVID-19 response needs, UNICEF Uganda reallocated funds from regular resources totalling US$1.66 million to procure urgent emergency supplies and support national and district coordination.
At the inter-agency level, in an effort to cover both the COVID-19 response as well as the potential gaps in basic service delivery as a result of the reprogramming of humanitarian funds, the Resident Coordinator’s Office and OCHA are developing a UN Emergency Appeal, scheduled to launch in April. For this appeal, in addition to the US$11.37 million for COVID-19,
UNICEF will request approximately US$13 million to cover activities under HAC that may face constraints within the context of COVID-19 in Uganda.

Situation Overview and Humanitarian Needs

Uganda confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on 21 March 2020.
The case involved a 36-year-old Ugandan male who arrived from Dubai on Saturday 21 March 2020. As of 31 March, 44 cases of COVID-19 had been confirmed in Uganda. The vast majority (87 per cent) are imported cases, 12 per cent are local transmissions, and 1 per cent have an unknown chain of transmission. The majority of the cases were travelers returning from the United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Germany, United States,
Afghanistan, and China.
Districts registering confirmed cases include Masaka, Iganga,
Adjumani, and Hoima. A cumulative total of 1,143 contacts have been listed so far. A cumulative total of 657 high-risk travelers are under institutional quarantine. All confirmed cases have been admitted to Entebbe Grade B Hospital, Mulago National Specialized Hospital, and Adjumani and Hoima hospitals.
According to MoH, from the time of the declaration of the outbreak of COVID-19 in China on 31 December 2019, the government swiftly moved to put in place proactive measures at Entebbe International Airport and at the inland border points of entry to prevent the importation of the virus into the country. However, during this period many Ugandans returned home from several countries already affected by COVID-19 and integrated into communities undetected, largely due to a lack of symptoms at the time of their arrival. This in turn dictated a change in strategy, from prevention of importation to suppression of transmission. To emphasize and strengthen this measure, the President of Uganda, on 18 March 2020, declared COVID-19 a national emergency and has since issued guidelines on preventive measures to suppress the spread of the disease throughout the country, including banning gatherings, closing schools and shopping malls, suspending public and private transport, prohibiting open-air markets in rural areas, prohibiting the marketing of non-food items in urban markets, and prohibiting entry into the country for newly arrived asylum-seekers.
UNICEF and its partners, including the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS), Cardiff University UK, and Bristol Poverty Institute, have supported the Government of Uganda with comprehensive assessments of the expected impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Uganda’s economy, including identifying populations at heightened risk of exposure. Within Uganda, risk exposure in Uganda is extremely high due to overcrowding (especially in urban areas), the sharing of toilets, and the large number of households that lack soap and water and need to visit public water collection points daily. Highlights from the report include: 50.3 per cent of the population is exposed to 1–3 risk factors, while 47.3 per cent of the population is exposed to four or more risk factors daily. Risk exposure is highly concentrated amongst multidimensionally poor households, representing 47 per cent of the population. Risk exposure also disproportionally affects multidimensionally deprived children representing 56 per cent of the population. Risk exposure is especially pronounced in rural areas.
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), Uganda is home to 1,423,377 refugees and asylum-seekers as of 31 March 2020, over 61 per cent of whom are vulnerable children entitled to humanitarian assistance. According to Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSNET) Uganda,the entry of refugees and asylum-seekers from neighbouring countries has been prohibited for one month following the closure of all borders and transit centres. However, refugees already in Uganda are expected to experience 30 per cent ration cuts in humanitarian food assistance beginning in April due to lack of funding.
According to FEWSNET, Uganda continues to do surveillance for Desert Locusts in the previously affected subregions of Karamoja, Teso, Acholi, Lango, and Sebei. In Karamoja and nearby areas, damage due to the locust invasion beginning in February has so far been minimal given the agricultural off-season. Populations of mostly less-destructive adult locusts in Uganda have been decreasing in size due to a combination of control measures and their end-of-life cycle. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), the hatching of locust eggs in affected areas has so far been unsuccessful. However, the possibility of additional swarms migrating from Kenya poses a threat to crops that are expected to be in early vegetative stages in April.
Surveillance and control measures are ongoing, though these would be inadequate in the presence of additional swarms. Given a lower than anticipated locust presence, farmers are expected to plant as usual. According to most recent forecasts, above-average cumulative rainfall is now expected in Karamoja during the April–September season. Overall, an average harvest is now anticipated in Karamoja in July.
As of 31 March, there was no Ebola Virus Disease case or EVD contacts under follow-up in Uganda. Despite the lack of new EVD cases in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Uganda remains at high risk of EVD importation. EVD preparedness activities are ongoing and include active case search, contact-tracing across the border, screening at points of entry, and EVD surveillance mentorship in communities and health facilities.