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Uganda's fight against COVID-19 and desert locusts

By George Kibiike

Added 13th August 2020 12:44 PM

Uganda's fight against COVID-19 and desert locusts

Uganda is fighting COVID-19 invasions the first global pandemic to be caused by Coronavirus amidst battling its worst desert locust invasion in decades.

The country`s efforts to control COVID-19, which has caused considerable losses to human health and affected the economy.

The pandemic has affected all live; women, men, girls, and boys.

Women have shown their feasibility in the fight against the pandemic at all levels and stages of management, treatment, care, and community engagement and information dissemination.

The physical presence of women in the mainstream health sector, at national, regional, district, and at the community level and sub squinty service on the national COVID-19 tasks force and at relevant sub-committees' manifests royalty at the same upholding professionalism. These imply that one woman empowered and trusted with responsibilities can perform and become change agents.

COVID-19 impacts to the locust response, the locust crisis overlaps with the COVID-19 pandemic, creating a crisis within a crisis. By itself, the COVID-19 Pandemic has the potential to create a severe food security crisis in the country, as elsewhere, as agricultural product contracts and food imports decline. Local agricultural food supply claim can experience disruptions, including reducing access to inputs and services, labor movements, transportation, and roadblocks due to COVID-19. In particular, the pandemic can disrupt the supply chains for pesticides and other pieces of equipment necessary to control the spread of locust

The ministry of agriculture animal industry and fisheries (MAAIF) with the government like the UPDF agencies, partners, and the affected communities, have been played pivotal roles in containing their invasions a though of recent they have emerged again agriculture.

The top leadership of the ministry official led by Vicent Sempijja and his deputy Henry Bagire and the technical staff therein. Have been supportive of putting in place current actions need to stop locust's invasion in Uganda.

The Chief of Defense Forces Gen. David Muhoozi, appointing Major General Sam Kavuma to be the lead person on the part of Uganda People's Defense Forces (UPDF), showed the level of dedication towards the wainanchi.

Maj. Gen. Sam Kavume has applied strategic military skills leading a group of over 2000 soldiers in the affected areas. Causing the locusts to die, relocate, and vanish outgoing.

The UPDF former spokesperson, Brig. Richard Karemire had often shared information through the media on the progress of the desert locust. At the same delivery committee series welcome Brig. Byekwaso the new UPDF spokesperson.

The confidence, professionalism, commitment and charisma exhibited by Dr. Ruth Aceng the health minister, her permanent secretary Dr. Diana Atwine, Dr. Monica Musenero an epidemiologist and senior presidential adviser on diseases outbreaks, Mary Karoro minister in the Prime Minister's office Okurut in charge of donations, Esther Mbayo who has ably co-ordinated Residents District Commissioners (RDC) who are leading the district task forces, Judith Nabakooba Minister for Information and National Guidance, provided timely information and many other females have greatly been instrumental in the COVID-19 response in the country. These females have been able to successfully perform with the great support of many male professions working alongside them, which has yielded results.

Our researchers are having sleepless nights in order to develop a vaccine for the COVID-19 pandemic, which is encouraging due to the initiatives so far taken. Prof. PontianoKaeebu Director URVI, Dr. Margret Saimo-Kahwa Makerere University, Dr. Bruce Kirenga Makerere University, Dr. Mwanje all these scientists are working alongside other scientists in finding a solution for COVID-19 pandemic.

The formation of the Ministry of Health National Task Force in response to the Pandemic, on emphasizing community engagement and enhancing health practices to the public has been spot on.

Ministry of health and its partners went to the public on disseminating information via electronic and print media, highlighting the safest practices to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 at the same time issuing a timely release on the country's preparedness and cases as and when to occur.

The quarantine and tracing of contacts identifying those who have tested positive and thee contacts in ongoing and yielding positive results. It's sad that we are starting to have confirmed cases of COVID-19 death, but the majority of the positive cases are being treated and discharged. Hospitals having tested negative at least twice following globally developed countries. Globally in responding to the outbreak in terms of readiness with authorities not taking any chances are well prepared to manage potential COVID-19 cases.

Uganda has intensified its efforts and strategy in fighting to stop a new generation of locust's swarms invading us in phases and intervals jeopardizing food security environment and natural resources.

Since 2019, the East African region has been trying to control a devastating desert locust's invasion which has attacked crops and livelihoods.

In response to the arrival of the biggest locust outbreak in managing another major shock, the government decided to deploy military forces to help with ground-based pesticides spraying with planes for aerial spraying.

Locusts are large herbivorous insects that can be serious pests of agriculture due to their ability to form dense and highly mobile swarms. They are species of short-horned grasshoppers that periodically form large populations in dense migrating groups, where individuals differ in several characteristics from those living separately.

A small swarm (1km2) can be made up of 80 million locusts and can consume the same amount of food in one day as 35,000 people, while a large swarm can eat up to 1.8 million metric tons of green vegetables, equivalent to food enough to feed 81 million people. Locusts bred very fast and a single female locust can lay egg pods containing anywhere from 80 - 150 eggs. Locusts do not attack people or animals physically.

Great work has been done and achieved in containing the desert locust's invasion, specially applied in extended to the MAAIF led by Vicent Sempijja, Henry Bagiire, and its technocrats. To UPDF, the chief of Defenses Gen. David Muhoozi, Maj. Gen. Sam Kavuma and the entire UPDF Fraternity, the development partners, and the affected communities/districts for their supportive responses.

Uganda's lead communicator in the fight against COVID-19, President Museveni`s message has been spot on and has put in place an elaborate and simple list of measures in averting the further spread of COVID-19, by advocating for regular hand washing with soap or sanitizer, avoid touching in sensitive body parts, weaving of masks, keeping of distance as the easiest.

Solidarity and utility will be crucial during these unprecedented times when the country is battling the two outbreaks, COVID-19 and the desert locusts. Let us wholeheartedly come together as a country to support the government's efforts towards the two invasions and also compliment the contributions of those institutions and individuals at the force front in these battles.

The writer works with communities in Busoga sub-region

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