According to the recently released report, on average currently Ugandan households spend Shs10,800 per day, down from Shs14,100 in January this year. The drop has been sharper in rural areas (from Shs14,600 to Shs10,300) than urban (Shs13,100 to Shs12,300).
Despite this, more households find their income does not meet their daily needs now compared to January (26% compared to 22% previously).
These findings were released by the Food Rights Alliance and Twaweza in a factsheet entitled Livelihoods under COVID-19. The findings are based on data collected from 1,600 respondents across Uganda in May and June 2020.
Despite these increased pressures, when asked who they would turn to for help if there was not enough money, 3 out of 8 Ugandans say they would not ask for help, compared to 2 out of 8 who said the same in January. Among the rest who are more willing to ask for help, fewer of them would ask friends and more would seek help from family compared to January of this year.
Nonetheless, asking family and friends for money is among a range of previously less-used options that are becoming slightly more common during the Covid-19 pandemic. Others include selling assets and seeking casual work.
Compared to January 2020, fewer citizens are cutting expenditure (37% in January 2020 to 26% in May/June), getting items of credit (22% to 19%) and borrowing money (16% to 14%).
Given the mounting financial pressure, Ugandans are in need of some additional support. Overall, 1 out of 10 Ugandans have received support in the last two months from government, NGOs or any other actors.
Urban households are three times more likely to receive support than rural homes (24% versus 7%), which is in line with the government’s mitigation strategy for the economic effect of COVID-19.
Thus far during the Covid-19 pandemic, most Ugandans are continuing to do some form of work. Only 1 out of 7 reported that they had not done even an hour of work during the previous week. In urban areas 1 out of 5 did not do any work while in rural areas 1 out of 10 did not. Among those who did not do any work, half of them say they do not have any work to return to following the lock down against Covid-19.
The Ugandans who do not have work to return to have no clear survival or coping strategy – most of them plan to ask family for help or to make use of food stocks.
Marie Nanyanzi of Sauti za Wananchi at Twaweza, said: “These data provide some early insight into a new economic order for Ugandans following Covid-19.The intensifying pressure on citizens’ ability to meet basic needs is clear. Important changes in people’s spending and financial management are already apparent – from quiet belt-tightening to growing unwillingness to ask for help from our neighbours. The data also reveal that, contrary to expectation, rural households are facing even greater financial strain than their urban counterparts. Without thoughtful and assertive intervention, all Ugandans may face even harder times ahead.”