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Children’s press conference on COVID-19 in Uganda

June 18th, 2020

Children from all over Uganda have been taking part in a virtual “Children’s Press Conference”, to speak out about how the COVID-19 outbreak is affecting their lives and ask questions to Government representatives.

Children's press conference on COVID-19

Joining Forces Coalition

The conference – organised by the Joining Forces Coalition made up of ChildFund, Plan International, Save the Children, SOS Children’s Villages, Terre des Hommes and World Vision – was broadcast live on NTV as part of a week of events to commemorate the Day of the African Child. With children in the lead, the conference featured officials from the Ministries of Health; Education & Sports; Gender, Labour & Social Development; and the Police Force.

Challenges voiced by children

Neema, from Kakiri in central Uganda, notes, “the President says the Government will distribute TVs to villages to help children learn. But some villages don’t even have electricity. What will be done to help them?”

Barrack, from Busia in the east of the country, says, “Children are having to hawk goods to truck drivers and nothing is being done to stop them or help them.”

Lucy, from Napak district, says, “We can’t afford soap and face masks, so how can we follow the guidelines?”

Jonathan, from Kampala, says, “Some children have still not got study materials. Some have been given drugs to sell and use. Some live in slums and their parents have lost jobs. How is the government going to help these children?”

Sharon, from Wakiso, asks, “When will we be able to go back to school? Girls are getting dormant and pregnant while schools are closed.”

Josephine, also from Wakiso, says, “We no longer have enough food. My parents can’t afford to give us two meals as it used to be before COVID. We now just have one meal. We take tea without sugar because we cannot afford it.”

Recommendations to protect children

While children are not considered to be at highest risk of contracting COVID-19, they are extremely vulnerable to the ‘secondary’ social and economic impacts of the pandemic, which could affect children for the rest of their lives – long after lockdown measures have been eased. The Joining Forces Coalition is therefore calling on the Government of Uganda and international donors to:

  • dedicate specific resources to ensure that children are protected during the outbreak, particularly when risks to children are higher while schools are closed
  • ensure children can continue learning while out of school by providing each child with the necessary study materials, and plan for gradual safe re-opening of schools following the national guideline
  • ensure public information campaigns include age-appropriate materials to inform children and that their voices are taken into account in all decision-making processes
  • effectively enforce laws to protect children and prosecute all cases of violence and abuse of children
  • extend financial and technical support to families and child-headed households to cushion them from the economic hardships caused by the pandemic
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