COVID-19: IOM starts European Union-funded project in northern Uganda


April 30, 2021

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has commenced a two-year project to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic in the northern Uganda districts of Amuru and Adjumani.  The initiative is part of the “EU Response to the Health and Socio-Economic Impact of COVID-19 in the IGAD Region”, funded by the European Union.

Although the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths still appear comparatively lower in Africa than elsewhere, the pandemic has severely tested the continent’s already-strained healthcare systems, and devastated socioeconomic life. A recent World Bank study reveals that COVID-19 is likely to cause the first increase in global poverty since 1998, with about 23 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa being pushed into poverty.

To help stop the pandemic, mitigate its effects on the most vulnerable part of the population, and lay the foundation for long-term recovery, the European Union last year committed 60 million euros for eight countries under the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD); these are Uganda, Kenya, Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Djibouti, and Somalia. The regional project is managed by the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) and implemented by the IGAD, IOM, UNICEF, TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) and the German International Cooperation Agency (GiZ).

UNOPS is managing the delivery of 53 million euros of the project, to increase the capacity of IGAD to coordinate national responses, increase access to health and socio-economic support for vulnerable groups, and ensure that borders and critical supply chains are safe for trade. This is being implemented in partnership with IGAD, IOM, UNICEF and TMEA.  GIZ, meanwhile is delivering the remainder of the project by promoting digital solutions relevant for the COVID health response.

IOM Uganda recently formally introduced its project activities to political and health leaders in Adjumani and Amuru, in the presence of officials from and the Ministry of Health, UNICEF, WHO and other partners. While complementing efforts of other programme partners, IOM Uganda will focus on:

  • Strengthening the healthcare system’s capacity to respond to COVID-19 and ensure continuity of essential services
  • Providing services for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in selected sites
  • Integrating measures against Gender-Based violence (GBV) in the COVID-19 response.
  • Carrying out awareness raising and community engagement on COVID-19.

Speaking in Adjumani, IOM Uganda Migration Health coordinator Victoria Kajja said: “Under the health response, we will rehabilitate Bibia health centre III, which is the referral facility for Elegu Point of Entry; deploy and remunerate health workers and other frontline responders in Adjumani and Amuru districts; and provide 1500 COVID-19 test kits for testing frontline responders in the two districts among other interventions.”

The commissioner for Health Partners and Multi-Sectoral Coordination, Dr Tom Aliti Candia, also the IGAD National Coordinator for the project, revealed that the regional project had already procured tens of thousands of PPEs for both districts. The PoEs of Elegu, Malaba and Busia have received an ambulance each, while the one advanced ambulance is being procured for Adjumani hospital..

IOM will provide additional personal protective equipment (PPEs), strengthen the COVID surveillance and response capacity of both health workers and non-health responders, and offer them psycho-social support.

Leaders in both districts welcomed the project and commended the European Union for the funding. But they urged IOM and other partners to ensure close coordination with the district local governments.

“Elegu being a busy border post, we have had a challenge of transporting identified cases to hospital, so the ambulance will help us a great deal. But the ambulance comes with added costs – such as a driver and maintenance,” said Mr Thomson Obong, the Chief Administrative Officer for Amuru.

Mr Thomson Obong, the Chief Administrative Officer for Amuru interacts with IOM staff

          Mr Thomson Obong, the Chief Administrative Officer for Amuru speaking to the project team. 

Mr Obong’s reference to additional costs, was understood as a request to the partners to consider covering them. But commissioner Aliti responded that these costs needed to be covered by the district.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19 IOM has supported the national response by providing COVID-testing machines and test kits, PPES, infection prevention and control supplies, among other things.

Speaking about the new project, IOM Uganda Chief of Mission Sanusi Tejan Savage said: “We are grateful for this European Union funding and the support of IGAD and other partners to continue supporting the country to tame this pandemic.”

UNOPS Senior Project Manager Rossella Monti said: "We are committed to strengthening the health system in the IGAD region and working together to address the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic in order to protect marginalized and vulnerable communities."

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For more information / media enquiries, please contact IOM Uganda Public Information Officer, Richard M Kavuma at [email protected] | Tel: +256 312 263 210  | +256 772 709 917