The Coca-Cola Foundation (TCCF) on Tuesday handed over a significant financial donation to the Uganda Red Cross Society (URCS) as an input towards Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) activities that will be implemented in high traffic areas and other activities relating to coronavirus pandemic.
The Shs186M donated will go towards promotion of mandatory handwashing and support Risk communication for COVID-19 with URCS as the implementing partner.
Speaking at the handover event at UMA Showgrounds in Lugogo, the Uganda Red Cross Society Secretary General, Robert Kwesiga applauded Coca-Cola for its humanitarian efforts at both a national and global level and for being a reliable partner in saving lives.
“Even before the outbreak of coronavirus, we were partners with Coca-Cola. We have implemented several initiatives with them as our partners. Last year when there were landslides in Bundibugyo, Coca-Cola was among the first companies to respond in saving the lives of the people affected in the area. Now with CVID-19, Coca-Cola has been responsive both at a national- working with us locally and globally – supporting the International Red Cross,” said Mr. Robert Kwesiga.
Globally, The Foundation has extended support to both international and local NGOs, such as the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and Amref Health by deploying a range of resources, including capabilities, funds and products to support governments, communities and local economies in their urgent efforts to contain the spread and impact of coronavirus.
At the on-set of COVID-19, The Coca-Cola Foundation donated food relief packages worth Ush 360 Million to vulnerable households in Mukono District through the Uganda Red Cross Society. The company also donated WASH materials to ensure that people wash their hands as one of the key preventative measures against COVID-19.
Robert Kwesiga further added that scientists earlier this year predicted that November and December would be the peak of COVID-19 cases. Uganda now has 23,200 COVID-19 cases so far. Of those, 2017 people have succumbed to the virus. Yesterday, the Ministry announced the highest number of cases registered in a day – 701.
“If we behave, we can manage this virus. If you wash your hands, keep your mask on, keep social distance, we can manage COVID-19. As much as we are doing everything possible (all state actors), COVID-19 has now reached stage 4; that is now a community which is difficult to control. How do we manage this?
Medical aspects become one of the elements but the bigger element right now is around community engagement; people need to take responsibility, people need to take charge,” Mr. Rober Kwesiga cautioned.
The Government of Uganda under the guidance of the President, His Excellency Yoweri Kaguta Museveni through the National TaskForce set up a committee last month to roll out the community engagement strategy. The Uganda Red Cross Society as a member of the committee will be leveraging on its huge network and volunteer base across the country at district level.
“This calls for people at village level forming committees where they can do surveillance, carry out education and also learn how to make referrals where it’s necessary. With the support we have received from Coca-Cola, this will be made possible,” he shared.
The project is to be implemented in the areas of western Uganda; Mbarara, Kabale, Kisoro, Kanungu, Isingiro, Ntungamo and Mutukula. In the Central region, the focus will be on the two Taxi parks in Kampala which have very high foot-traffic.
“The Coca-Cola system is built on a ‘people first approach’. It is our north star in all our business dealings. Supporting our people and the economy to full recovery is our biggest priority right now. We believe a business is as strong as the community it operates in that’s why we put the safety of our people first at all times – our employees, their families, our customers and the community,” said Melkamu Abebe, General Manager, Coca-Cola Beverages Africa in Uganda (CCBA).
“All of us have an individual responsibility to follow the guidelines given by the Government so that we avoid contracting the disease, and so that we protect others. At Coca-Cola Beverages Africa we say a pledge every single day – ‘I am my Sister’s Keeper, I am my Brother’s Keeper and I am my Family’s Keeper’ We have a responsibility for everybody else,” he added.
During this COVID-19 pandemic, the CCBA engaged in various interventions from public awareness worth UGX460million and three pick-up trucks for the Ministry of Health COVID-19 Task Force, UGX85million to the Ministry of Health to buy medical equipment and sundries.
The company also committed to support the Ministry of Health to set-up 5,000 handwashing stations across the country. As of today, five (5) 5,000litre Community Handwashing Stations for the general public use have been set-up in Mukono (Namanve), Kampala (Kyambogo) and Mbarara (Makenke and Municipality) and distributed over 1,700 handwashing jerry cans in the community. In total, the company has invested 1.3billion to the wider community.
“We continue to work with different partners to support COVID-19 relief responses for the communities in which we operate across the region. This includes provision and distribution of medical supplies, bulk water and soap to vulnerable communities, donating beverages to healthcare workers and setting up hand-washing stations in areas of need. We have also put a lot of effort in disseminating public health messages to foster behavior change, which we believe it critical in fighting the spread of COVID-19,” said Ms. Diana Apio Kasyate, Relations Manager Coca-Cola East and Central Africa Franchise