Uganda began distributing food aid yesterday to up to 1.5mn vulnerable citizens affected by the coronavirus lockdown in the capital Kampala.
Six trucks loaded with bags of maize flour, beans and salt were flagged off from the centre of Kampala by government ministers and sent in convoy less than 10 kilometres to Bwaise suburb.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda announced the government would “start providing relief food to the most vulnerable and affected by measures to combat Covid-19,” initially targeting 1.5mn people living in and around Kampala.
A few days into a nationwide 14-day lockdown, many Ugandans, who live hand-to-mouth, are struggling to buy food.
Sarah Bwanika, a 37-year-old mother of three, was among the first to receive yesterday’s emergency assistance since President Yoweri Museveni announced that food distribution would begin. “This will last my family two weeks, I hope,” Bwanika said, holding bags of flour and beans on the steps of her tiny neighbourhood shop, which she said had seen few customers since the lockdown began.
As children played next to open sewers, members of the Local Defence Unit (LDU) — a uniformed militia under the control of the military — filed past Bwanika’s shop into densely packed mud-clogged backstreets distributing aid, daubing the homes of recipients with marker pens.
Responsible for enforcing a curfew aimed at stopping social gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic, LDUs have earned a reputation for violent extortion while conducting nighttime patrols.
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