Uganda Coronavirus (COVID-19) 30 March 2020

North-west Uganda

From a pastor

“The church in the West Nile for the last two Sundays have maintained family services. The church leader sends the readings to the Christians on their telephones through text messages, others using social media, especially in towns. I managed to interact with the two Anglican Church dioceses in the region; Nebbi Diocese and Madi West Nile Diocese as well as the South Sudanese Diocese of Liwolo based in the Refugee Camp in the region. 

“Church of Uganda, Nebbi Diocese

Church of Uganda, Nebbi Diocese has designed services radio to reach the Christians. Christ the King 98.8 FM, Goli is owned by the diocese. The last two Sundays, the Cathedral conducted major services in the local language, Alur at 9.00 AM. Christians sit around their radio and remotely participate in the service, while others follow the service on their phones. This has proved helpful to the families that are unable to conduct their own service.  Being predominantly rural and semi-illiterate community, most of the church services are usually conducted in the local language, therefore making this service very vital. After the service, people are encouraged to give feedback by making phone calls. Several people call back to testify how the service has been helpful. In addition to the service, the radio station invites pastors to give sermons at various intervals throughout the week.  Government officials also sensitize the people through the radio both in local language and English.

“The radio frequencies however reach a limited radius of 50kms, in Uganda and parts of Democratic Republic of Congo, leaving out more than three-quarters of the diocese strewed in the 3 Local Government Districts The diocese requests to pray with on how to increase the coverage. Christ the King FM has been very useful tool to share the gospel in the time of Corona virus and other times as well. Another challenge for now is that the stipend for ministers is at stake as not many families are able to meet and remit their offering to the diocese. The church workers are mainly paid from the offerings collected every Sunday…

“Church of Uganda Madi West Nile Diocese

Madi West Nile Diocese is one of the largest dioceses of the Anglican Church in Uganda with 138 parishes and 740 congregations. The diocese has a humanitarian desk that has been in responding to the refugee crisis since 2017. The corona virus has been a critical emergency situation to the diocese because of its rural nature and high level of poverty. West Nile region is the second poorest region in Uganda after Karamoja (where the locusts invaded). 

 “Through the Humanitarian Desk, the Diocese has so far provided 100 hand washing buckets to the vulnerable families in the rural areas, made posters for creating awareness on Covid19 in strategic community centers. Critical to the observation of the Diocese are the areas Rhino Camp, Madi and Oyibu Archdeaconries located along the River Nile. The majority of the population live below US$ 1 per day. Aringa (Yumbe) archdeaconry is rural area where the majority of the population is Muslims, where Christians are often sidelined in cases of emergencies. The diocese in the next two months is focusing on awareness creation, provision of testing and medical support at Kuluva Hospital for the people affected with Covid19 and provision of safety kits to the vulnerable households in the diocese. Kuluva Hospital is the diocesan hospital that has had the longest history in the fight against HIV AIDS in Uganda. Here the diocese will establish an isolation center for the people with Covid19. There are apparently been no isolation facility established to handle corona virus cases. All the cases are handled in Kampala, a distance of 7-9 hours’ drive. The diocese requests mission partners to pray with them on these areas. 

Ministry of the word has mainly been done through family services and radio programmes. However, the biggest challenge anticipated in the next 3 months is the stipend for the clergy. This is because offertories are not forthcoming to the diocese to pay the clergy….

“My personal observation is that the lockdown of the country has set people in confusion but the worse impact of the corona virus will be after the epidemic. As the majority of the community is peasant community, their farming is going to be affected. Limited farm inputs, coupled with the weather changes. The church leaders require a lot of prayer and encouragement as most of them are ill-equipped to function in such situations of stress. The elderly and children are at high risk at this time. Although, most of the attention is given to the prevention of the virus, the sustained problem of the epidemic will be a little more fatal than anticipated.”