Update from URDT/ARU about prevention of Covid 19
Dear Partners and Friends,
Greetings from Uganda Rural Development and Training Programme (URDT) and African Rural University (ARU). We hope that you are well and taking precautions to be safe from COVID 19. In Uganda, we were safe until 21st March 2020 when the first case was recorded although since then, the trend has changed with the other 13 cases confirmed and 764 are under mandatory quarantine. The President of the Republic of Uganda is working closely with the Ministry of Health to guide the public and give regular updates about COVID 19 at the national level. For details visit: https://www.health.go.ug/
URDT/ARU prioritizes health and it regularly trains staff and students to make choices that enable them to live a healthy life. Nevertheless, the team has integrated the guidelines into the ongoing interventions to ensure the safety of all people. Conversations are going on to hold the broader picture of health during and after this outbreak. We are sharing this update to inform you that we are still safe at URDT/ARU and there are key measures in place to continue safeguarding the staff, students and community members.
URDT/ARU management raised consciousness amongst staff and students about the facts regarding COVID 19, the prevention and control measures to protect oneself and other people around each of us. Several things are going on as summarized below:
1. CONSCIOUSNESS RAISED THROUGH THE FOUNDATION COURSE
The daily sessions for staff and students at URDT/ARU campus are a useful platform to broadcast information internally. Before the official break off, over 450 staff and students participated in sessions in which information about COVID 19, mode of transmission, signs & symptoms, prevention and control was shared. A total of 8 video clips and 5 sessions were discussed about COVID 19. The management also used the platform to discuss guidelines from the ministry of health. This was useful to ensure that students have facts and clarify myths about the virus. At the moment, the foundation courses are paused until gatherings involving more than 10 people are officially permitted.
2. STUDENTS AND STAFF ARE ON AN OFFICIAL BREAK
All students in the 5 URDT education institutions are on an official break since 20th March 2020 for a month. This resulted from the address from the President of the Republic of Uganda who among other guidelines instructed all education institutions to break off by mid-day on 20/03/2020. The students were picked by their parents/guardians and will report back when schools are opened officially. The earlier planned programs with students are paused until they report back to the respective institutions. In the related development, 90% of the URDT/ARU staff are equally on a break to ensure their safety. Staff engagements in groups and field engagements have been postponed until further notice.
The parents/guardians together with their children were sensitized about the preventive and control measures in their homes and communities. The recommendations include ensuring adequate hygiene and sanitation at home, proper washing of hands, protection of the mouth, nose, and eyes, management of cough and flue, and proper use of handkerchiefs and masks.
The parents, students and staff were encouraged to stay home, minimize movements to congested places and embracing more digital transactions and communications. Additionally, people are encouraged to report any signs or symptoms related to COVID 19 and do self-quarantine when they have normal cough/flue.
URDT/ARU are implementing the guidelines issued by the President and Ministry of Health. In the recent development, guidance has been given on public and private transport. Public transport has been banned and private vehicles carry not more than 3 people. People are allowed use bicycles if they must move and public motorcycles are allowed to carry food stuffs to people as necessary.
3. SOCIAL DISTANCE MAINTAINED DURING PHYSICAL MEETINGS
URDT/ARU management is conscious that every person needs to be safe. Much as the students and most of the staff are on a break, Kagadi Kibaale Community Radio and other key supportive sections are still operational and the number involved is manageable. Adjustments have been done to retain inevitable programs on the radio and a few staff are running those programs. The management ensures that the staff are safe while at work. The physical meetings are kept small with less than 10 participants and adequate space between the participants is ensured. Other interactions that are fit for non-physical meetings are conducted using different platforms.
4. DIGITAL SESSIONS CONDUCTED TO SUPPORT ONGOING PROGRAMS
The teams at URDT/ARU are in touch amongst themselves and with our partners using online meetings. The teams are continuing to use email communications, thanks to the stable internet in place, phone calls and messages. For other internal and external meetings, the team uses channels such as zoom cloud meetings, Skype and google meetings. This has been useful to carry on some priorities during this break and keep in touch with our partners and other stakeholders.
5. COMMUNICATION USING SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS
Social media platforms have enabled people with that technology to be closer than ever before. URDT/ARU has 5 WhatsApp pages opened earlier that the team is using to share updates about COVID and discuss emerging questions. Out of the 5 pages, the KKCR page also has community members which increases the number of people with critical information about the prevention and control of COVID 19.
6. INFORMATION BROADCAST OVER KKCR
Kagadi Kibaale Community Radio (KKCR) is continuing to play a critical role in broadcasting information about health to community members. The radio management and presenters make research and share facts with over 3 million listeners in the region. KKCR programs are also live online via http://www.kkcr.urdt.net which makes the radio accessible to the people outside the local region.
The radio is continuing to give facts and updates about the prevention and control of COVID 19 as part of the programs on health and also hosts the local leaders on the same subjects. Radio programs on health and COVID 19 are broadcast regularly over KKCR, a DJ mention runs 8 times a day and a radio jingle runs 6 times a day to sensitize and update community members about COVID 19.
KKCR is practicing social distancing amongst the program presenter/moderators and guests. Some adjustments have been made in programs that previously had more than 10 participants to ensure a small number with adequate space.
The members also have an opportunity to continue accessing information at a national level. Besides the programs on KKCR, URDT/ARU management utilizes the television systems on campus to broadcast the president’s addresses, communication from the ministry of health and other key updates that emerge at the national level.
7. HANDWASHING FACILITIES INCREASED
Hand washing is a critical action in keeping people clean and healthy. URDT/ARU already established 25 centers at strategic places of the campus to enable the people wash their hands always. During this outbreak, 9 temporary handwashing facilities have been added to increase the number of handwashing points. Guidelines on handwashing have been displayed and there is a staff guiding people on what to do. Hand sanitizers have been put at strategic places for the continuous use and safety of all people on campus.
8. NUTRITION PROMOTED ON CAMPUS AND IN COMMUNITIES
As a good practice, URDT/ARU has access points for clean and safe drinking water. URDT/ARU also teaches staff, students and community members about sustainable and nutritional based agriculture. There are demonstration centres with various crops including vegetables growing. During the current outbreak, it is appreciated that a strong immune system and drinking high volumes of water are crucial for minimizing the effects of COVID 19. We continue to teach and demonstrate to students, staff and community members about the importance of boosting the immune system and keeping the body hydrated.
In conclusion, the team believes that these measures will keep students and staff safe. We want to assure our partners and friends that the URDT/ARU family is still safe and monitoring the situation amongst the people on campus. The students have contacts for staff to call regarding emerging questions that may not be addressed immediately through the local infrastructure established by the government. The management has also put up an emergency team that is alert to address or forward the emerging issues to appropriate authorities.
We send our best wishes to all our partners and friends to be safe and send light energy to the grieved families directly affected by COVID 19. We hope that the people worldwide remain calm, complete this scourge with strength and recover steadily from the damages caused in the process. We will keep you informed about how things roll out on our side and we will be glad to hear from you.
The good practices will continue at URDT/ARU even after the pandemic. We encourage staff, students and community members to keep the immune systems strong, continue washing hands, maintain basic hygiene and sanitation even after COVID 19, and keep their bodies hydrated since these are key for living a healthy life always.
With love and respect to life and humanity.
The URDT Systems Administrator making research and giving regular updates to the URDT/ARU family
KKCR cashier takes precautions as he continues to perform his duties
URDT Accountant washing hands before going to the office
A community member takes precaution by washing hands on arrival at URDT/ARU campus
 African Rural University (ARU), URDT Institute (URDT-I), URDT Girls School (URDT-GS), URDT Community School Kanywamiyaga (UCSK) and URDT Tijhaar Community School Nkondo (TCSN)