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Essential workers that kept Uganda running during the COVID-19 lockdown

The global COVID19 pandemic forced countries around the world into lockdown as part of measures to control the spread of the virus. In Uganda, while the majority of people stayed at home, with essential workers such as health professionals at the forefront of leading the COVID19 fight, there were other workers who kept the country running during the lockdown—providing information, transporting goods and services, and keeping the environment clean.

The combined efforts of these individuals knit societies together during a time of profound uncertainty, yet so often go unnoticed. Their collective efforts have quickly become part of the ‘new normal’ – which so many of us benefit from and hence their stories of quiet sacrifice, struggle, and triumph. These individuals include delivery workers, truck drivers, cleaners, animal caretakers, waste collectors, food vendors, volunteers, supermarket workers, community leaders, farmers, and journalists among others. In the photo essay, photographer Katumba Badru Sultan documents some of these workers.

Ugandan elephant caretaker Onesmus Mutuuza checks the foot of an injured one-year-old orphaned elephant at the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre (UWEC) in Entebbe-Uganda on May 7, 2020. The UWEC shutdown on March 27, 2020, following a directive from the President to close all public places to curb the spread of COVID-19.

A farmer tends to his cows and goats in Eastern Uganda. Like most essential workers, farmers have been crucial in ensuring food supply during the lockdown.

A mobile money trader sleeps on a bench at the Nakasero market, following a directive from President Museveni that all vendors should sleep in markets to avoid contact with their families and curb the spread of COVID-19.

In Uganda, radio broadcasters have stepped up to provide information to the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. Radio remains one of the most important channels through which masses can be reached across the country.

Across East Africa, trucks are the main means through which goods are transported. During the lockdown, truck drivers like these photographed at the Uganda-Kenya border have played a crucial role in ensuring the continuous supply of essential goods within the region.

Women and Men sleeping among their produce at Nakasero market in Kampala following a directive from President Museveni that all vendors should sleep in markets to avoid contact with their families and reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.
A trader recites the Quran next to items to be sold at a market on April 07, 2020. Despite the lockdown, traders like these continued to ensure that the public had supplies of essential foodstuff.

Artists have used word inscriptions like these on the wall to provide key messages on COVID-19 and the different ways through which the public can stay safe and reduce their risk of being infected with the virus.

With the lockdown in place and people unable to move around, it fell on volunteers like Simon Bukenya to deliver antiretroviral drugs to people living with HIV across the city and surrounding areas.

 

Journalists have been at the forefront of providing and disseminating information on COVID-19 through various media platforms.

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