German Development Cooperation in times of COVID-19

14.10.2020 - Article

Despite considerable achievements in Uganda’s development over the last years, the country is still facing challenges. For example, there is the strong population growth of 3.2 % per annum which is as much an opportunity as it is a challenge to be surmounted. On the one hand, the fast growing population of far more than 1 million people per year threatens to eat up even high economic growth rates. The job market needs to cater for an immense number of youth every year. On the other hand, Uganda’s young and dynamic population has the potential to expedite Uganda’s pace of development.

It is at this point where the German-Ugandan development cooperation steps in: It has been Germany’s aim to lay conditions conducive to Uganda’s development and to create the prerequisites that will eventually help the country’s great potentials to unfold.

Agriculture is the backbone of the Ugandan economy. 70 % of the Ugandan population is employed in this sector. Yet, Uganda’s agriculture to a large extent still does not move beyond subsistence farming. That is one of the underlying reasons why Germany has embarked on programmes to capacitate smallholder farmers to depart from subsistence farming and to enable them to professionalise and grow their businesses to enable them to enhance their market integration. This is very much in line with the new NDP III which aims at agro-industrialisation.

In order to help farmers reach this goal, Germany is offering training in economic skills and in the development of business plans, improving access to quality seeds that will produce higher yields or is enhancing access to finance such as affordable credits. In addition, Germany’s programmes are geared towards improving farmer’s resilience against the adverse effects of climate change, e.g. by introducing water-saving methods of irrigation. All these measures are directed towards laying the ground for creating additional income and highly needed jobs.

Many of Germany’s development programmes are being implemented in refugee hosting areas in West Nile, thereby providing assistance to many of the 1.4 million refugees Uganda is accommodating as well as in the hosting communities. In these areas, Germany is especially focusing on the areas of rural development, job training and the provision of clean water and sanitation.

In the energy sector, Germany, on the one hand, finances the construction of transmission lines and the establishment of hydropower stations and, on the other hand, promotes the installation of so-called mini-grids and the use of solar power especially in highly remote areas. In doing so, Germany aims to improve the access to electricity in the entire country – this, in turn, will be the very basis for economic development as well as income and job creation.

Germany is also supporting Uganda in advancing the country’s public financial management. Measures will improve accountability and transparency and aim at improving domestic revenue mobilisation – the latter being a crucial issue in fostering the state’s service delivery function. Finally, Germany is promoting human rights and the participation of civic actors in policy processes, for example in the implementation of the NDP III.

COVID-19-Prevention in Refugee Settlements and Hosting Communities:

Community members fetching water from a newly constructed public stand post serving Loro Market Area
Community members fetching water from a newly constructed public stand post serving Loro Market Area© Ministry of Water and Environment Umbrella North

Providing access to clean water will help curb the spread of the virus immensely. In Arua, Germany, through GIZ, is implementing training sessions in the welding and the installation of shared hand washing units, called WASHaLOT. To date, four WASHaLOTs have been installed at different public institutions such as district offices. The installation of 57 additional hand washing facilities is scheduled until the end of 2020.

Germany, through KfW Development Bank, in an attempt to reduce COVID-19 transmissions, has stepped up its efforts to enhance “last mile” connections to water supply. 300 new communal connections to piped water systems have been installed in Northern Uganda in the last months, 11 community boreholes have been rehabilitated, granting more than 8.500 people easy access to water for the first time. To secure longer term water supply, the construction of 15 small towns’ water supply and sanitation systems is planned. Once completed, over 120,000 refugees and host community population in Northern Uganda will be served directly with safe water by 2024.

Targeting long-term development, Germany, through KfW Development Bank, is funding a transmission pipeline of 72 km length carrying Nile water from an intake at Karuma to the city of Gulu. Completion is expected by mid-2023. The pipeline will provide more than 350.000 people in Gulu with safe and reliable water. 

Improving Medical Services in Northern Uganda:
Germany, through its programmes in the energy sector, will electrify more than 30 health centres in West Nile. The installation of high quality solar systems will improve health services and capacitate these facilities to improve the treatment of COVID-19 patients.

Boosting Small Scale Farmers‘ Resilience During COVID-19:

Distribution of Seeds to Smallholder Farmers amidst the Pandemic
Distribution of Seeds to Smallholder Farmers amidst the Pandemic© GIZ RISE Programme

The pandemic has made smallholder farmers in rural areas more vulnerable – especially during the early and strict phase of the lockdown, farmers found it increasingly difficult to sell their produce on local markets or to get access to farm inputs such as seeds. This is why Germany, through the GIZ-RISE-Programme which is promoting economic opportunities in refugee hosting districts by means of increased agricultural productivity, provided agricultural inputs (e.g. 7.5 tonnes upland-rice seeds, 22.5 tonnes groundnut seeds or 23.2 tonnes of soybean seeds – in total enough to cultivate almost 4.000 acres of land) to refugee and host community households in Norther Uganda to ensure their health and food security. The almost 5.000 benefitting farmers additionally received technical support e.g. in field preparation, weeding, transplanting or in “Village Saving and Loan Associations” practices.

Face to Face Sensitization with a Truck Driver
Face to Face Sensitization with a Truck Driver© GIZ E4D Programme

COVID-19-Awareness-Raising Campaign to protect Truck Drivers:
At the beginning of the pandemic in Uganda, most of the confirmed positive cases were found amongst international truck drivers given their high exposure to the virus. To keep drivers safe during the pandemic, the GIZ Employment and Skills for Development in Africa (E4D) initiative is supporting a campaign to inform truck drivers about COVID-related risks (leaflets and via radio, WhatsApp or SMS) and provide them with personal protective equipment (PPE). The campaign is set to reach up to 10.000 truck drivers, 4,000 through a face to face sensitization at the border posts and resting points (on average 40-60 drivers per day are sensitized) and 6,000 through a WhatsApp chatbot (messaging system) providing messages on prevention and road safety in 4 languages (English, French, Kiswahili and Luganda) through radio broadcastings (mainly on the border districts).

COVID-19-Response Trainings to SMEs – Business Survival, Continuity and Recovery:
Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) are facing serious challenges amidst the pandemic – companies are laying off workers due to the distorted revenue flow and it is anticipated that a considerable number of them will have to shut down. This can be prevented if enterprises are supported, trained, mentored and guided to take the necessary steps to overcome the current crisis. The GIZ “Employment and Skills for Development in Africa initiative” (E4D)  is launching a virtual SME Business Survival, Continuity and Recovery Training that will start in October and support 100 Ugandan SMEs (from tourism/hospitality, manufacturing and construction sectors) to cope with the economic effects of the pandemic. It will build capacities to make strategic decisions needed for survival and ensuring business continuity. SMEs will be guided to take the right strategic decisions and learn how to take advantage of the fact that the current crisis also provides opportunities to change business models, develop new supply chains, invest in new digital and remote working tools and revise cost structures. 

Musician recording a song in a music video
Musicians from Teso and Karamoja, two regions historically in conflict with each other – developed a song to draw attention to preventive measures and warns of stigmatisation and misinformation.© GIZ Civil Peace Service

The GIZ’s Civil Peace Service (CPS)
– together with musicians from Teso and Karamoja, two regions historically in conflict with each other – developed a song to draw attention to preventive measures and warns of stigmatisation and misinformation: “The virus knows no race, no gender and no age” and “in the face of Corona, we are all the same – let’s face the pandemic together!” In addition to COVID-19 issues, the illegal appropriation of land, a major cause of conflict in both regions, is also discussed.

Strengthening Efforts against Domestic Violence:
The country-wide lockdown contributed to an increase in domestic violence. In March and April alone, a total of 3.280 cases of domestic violence were reported, an increase of almost 50 % compared to pre-COVID-figures. Moreover, 95 % of all cases are believed to remain unreported. As a result, the GIZ “Strengthening Governance and Civil Society Programme” (SGSC) programme intensified its efforts to address issues such as gender-based and domestic violence. For example, SGSC together with local partners set up toll-free phone lines to support victims of domestic violence. Until July, 450 callers – mostly woman – have been assisted by the multilingual call-centre. In case of immediate danger, female callers are transferred to a German-supported woman’s shelter with the help of local police. If there is no immediate danger for the caller, legal or social counsel can be offered.

COVID-19 Response through the small scale Project Fund of the Embassy of Germany:
In addition to the technical cooperation, Germany offers a small scale project fund which is being implemented in collaboration with various Ugandan organisations. This year, Germany shifted its focus of this fund mainly to the pandemic response. As a result of this, Germany supported 55 health facilities located in border areas to enhance their preparedness and response capacity against infectious diseases including COVID-19. Germany also provided increased access to a variety of services to 200 people living with disabilities in Palorinya during the lockdown period and enhanced infection control measures amongst persons with disabilities and their families. Through this fund, increased access to water for five communities in Masindi and Kiryandongo and selected institutions such as schools and health facilities in various areas of Uganda has been financed in order to enhance the sanitation situation and prevent the further spread of COVID-19.

Covid-19 and the Media:
Misinformation and fake news related to COVID-19 undermine pandemic response efforts. Debunking fake news and raising public awareness about COVID-19 through the provision of reliable information is of big importance and gives the media a special responsibility. The Media Challenge Initiative, in partnership with the German media development organization Deutsche Welle Akademie, translates official information on COVID-19 into more than 15 local languages and produces it in audio version. The audio files can be accessed on Facebook, WhatsApp and have also been distributed to local radio stations that broadcast in their regional languages.


Capacitating Lubaga Hospital in Fight against Pandemic:
The Hospital in Kampala has become an important cornerstone in Uganda’s COVID response. This was also achieved through the assistance of the German-based aid agency Malteser International which has established a COVID-19-isolation unit at Lubaga Hospital. Employing funds of the German Government, Malteser International has trained hospital staff on how to effectively contain COVID-19. Malteser further focused on the implementation of a functioning triage system which is essential to prevent hospital infections amongst risk groups or staff. For the transport of patients, Malteser provided an ambulance vehicle to Lubaga hospital which is soon to be equipped with a ventilator. To protect health staff, Malteser has also distributed personal protective equipment (PPE) to several hospitals in Kampala and Northern Uganda.

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