On 18 March 2020, the President of Uganda directed the closure of all schools, including higher institutions of learning, as a measure to stop the spread of COVID-19. This saw about 15 million children locked down at home.
Coincidentally, it was planting time and most farming communities were in preparation for the first rains of 2020. James Waiswa and his family had planted a two-acre groundnuts garden. The 46-year-old father of six (four sons and two daughters), derives his livelihood from subsistence farming, just like majority of households in Uganda, who constitute 69% of the population according to a Uganda Bureau of Statistics Report 2014. James is a beneficiary of training from World Vision on the adoption of improved farming methods and savings for transformation.
With the continued closure of schools, James’ children have been very resourceful; keen to help their parents with light tasks in their garden. This echoes the words of the president of the International Fund for Agricultural Development, who noted that in Africa’s rural areas children are happy to help their parents with light farming activities, and it could be seen as a positive in the current COVID-19 circumstances.
Despite the closure of most businesses, the Ugandan President declared that all agricultural activities needed to continue as this was vital for continued food production. Thus, farmers in rural areas were food secure. With this directive, James anticipates to harvest over 2,000kg of groundnuts, with one acre already harvested.
“This year’s planting will be a success as it was done quickly,” shares James. “In a normal schooling season, we usually spend over UGX150,000 per acre (about USD 40.5) as additional labour - but this time we had to save this money to buy scholastic items for the children as we await reopening of schools.”
With World Vision’s help, James was able to secure holiday learning packages for his six children; which has enabled them to continue learning at home: “I hope to raise enough funds for my children’s school fees when schools reopen and save for unforeseen expenditures. I am very grateful to World Vision for your unwavering support, for this would not have been possible without your intervention.”
By Barbara Kateu, Programme Manager, Bugiri, Eastern Uganda