Uganda, like many other countries around the world, has implemented a national lockdown to contain the spread of the novel COVID-19.
The restriction of movement leaves millions of Ugandan nationals unable to meet their daily nutritional needs. This is especially the case for groups of people dependent on daily earnings. To support this group, the government set up a task force to oversee the distribution of relief food.
In recent weeks, Fairtrade coffee certified producer Bukonzo Organic Farmers Co-operative Union Limited has stepped in to support government with aid to vulnerable members of the community. These include the elderly, poorly and workers in the informal sector who typically live from hand to mouth. Located in Kasese, some members of the community affected by the lockdown are unable to go out to the shops or fend for themselves. This is in part attributed to the area’s geographical landscape which is generally mountainous making it difficult for community members to access shopping centers. In some areas, small convenience shops are non-existent due to lock-down, forcing community members to travel to major trading centers which is now problematic following the ban of public transport in the country.
As a result, members of Bukonzo Organic Farmers Co-operative Union Limited made a decision to support community members in need with essential items. Thanks to Fairtrade International’s temporary amendment to the Fairtrade Standards allowing for greater flexibility in Premium spend, the co-op used some of their Fairtrade Premium to donate thirty-five kilograms of sugar, one thousand kilograms of posho (maize flour), twenty liters of cooking oil, one hundred kilograms of beans and eighty bars of soap to the local government taskforce on COVID-19.
'We want to be part of the people supporting those in need,' said Josinta Kabugho - the co-op’s General Manager during the hand over to Kasese’s Resident District Commissioner.
Receiving the donation, the Commissioner commended Bukonzo for joining other Ugandans in pulling resources during this time. 'Brothers and sisters who are here, I take this golden opportunity to thank you on behalf of government. I encourage other people to join you, we have so many needy people in this period.'
The producer organisation has set aside over 1000 euro for distribution as cash donations among staff and workers as well as farmer members who are considered vulnerable such as the elderly, widows and people with disabilities. The donations will be used for the purchase of essential items for their households and protective gear such as face masks and gloves.
This inspiring act of solidarity is by no means an isolated instance amongst Fairtrade co-operatives (see similar examples in Peru), and is a testament to the Fairtrade community spirit, which is coming through so clearly in the current face of adversity.
Find out more about how Fairtrade is responding to COVID-19