A U.S funded Covid-19 programme to give Shs100,000 directly to 120,000 vulnerable Ugandans has been suspended.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has terminated its planned COVID-19 relief grants to Uganda.
According to a statement by the United States Embassy in Uganda, “USAID and GiveDirectly worked closely with government counterparts to successfully vet the program through the Cabinet and ultimately to launch the program publicly as part of the Lira City celebration in August.
Under this programme, 120,000 Ugandans across six cities were set to receive cash transfers of sh100,000 each month, for three months. By September this year; the US Embassy says, 47,128 Ugandans were enrolled in the programme.”
Since the outbreak of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the United States has provided technical assistance and more than $47m (about sh174bn) to help Uganda meet urgent needs in its COVID-19 response.
According to the statement, “The United States’ COVID-related assistance includes approximately $10 million for a direct cash transfer program launched by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in August in partnership with the Ministry of Local Government and the Ministry of Kampala through the international non-profit, GiveDirectly.”
It adds, “The goal of this programme was to follow international precedent for economic stimulus by providing cash directly to individuals and families who need it most. Specifically, the programme intended to support Ugandans who lost livelihoods as a result of COVID-19, who were at risk of food insecurity and faced serious reductions in household nutrition.”
However, the US Embassy says, “We are mindful that ordinary Ugandans continue to suffer from the socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and that they could greatly benefit from this emergency cash assistance, which has been proven both internationally and within Uganda as a powerful development tool to transfer stabilizing economic relief to recipient communities.”
The statement added that, “We deeply regret that the 120,000 Ugandans identified to participate in this program, along with their surrounding communities, will now not have the opportunity to benefit from it.”
Problems with the funding started last month when government stopped the program
Government indefinitely suspended the operations of an international NGO, GiveDirectly, which had been sending mobile money to vulnerable Ugandans hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic for failure to explain the source of its funding.
The National Bureau for Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO Bureau) said GiveDirectly failed to explain its source of funding although previously the organisation had indicated that it was receiving the money from the American government via funded the US Agency for International Development (USAID).
GiveDirectly is a nonprofit organisation that lets donors send money directly to households in developing countries via mobile linked platforms. As reported earlier, the organisation which targets extremely low-income households is currently active in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Liberia, Malawi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and Morocco.
In August, a total of 120,000 families in Uganda whose livelihoods have been negatively affected by coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic were listed to benefit from $10 million (about Shs 36 billion) direct cash transfers, to help them overcome the effects. (See: Lira’s vulnerable receive Shs 100,000 each COVID funds)
According to the NGO Bureau, investigations revealed that GiveDirectly was giving people money, which is likely to make them lazy, promote idleness, domestic violence, dependency syndrome and tension within neighbouring villages.
Michael Kayemba, the GiveDirectly country director previously said the innovative direct cash giveaway project was targeting vulnerable Ugandans across the six newly created cities of Mbale, Moroto, Lira, Gulu, Kabale and Mbarara over the next three months, with a possibility of rolling out the programme to other cities later.