Slum youth during the pandemic
Slum youth during the pandemic
The Uganda Tchoukball Association has been working closely with youth in slums to ensure they remain safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On 22 March 2020, Uganda registered its first case of COVID-19. The country put down a number of restrictions and introduced night curfews to curb the spread of the virus and maintain order during the lockdown period.
The ban on movement of people, non-cargo vehicles and the closure of offices and businesses except essential services was introduced. Schools, churches, sports training fields and all other public places where large groups of people often congregate were shut.
The pandemic as a socio-economic problem
It is important to recognize that COVID19 is not just a health problem, it is also a social and economic issue. Its impact continues to be more severe among the most vulnerable, poor communities who often have no social safety nets to fall back to. It has particularly been difficult for people residing in slums, as there’s massive space crunch, which makes it tougher to maintain social distance.
These conditions also lead to other problems like domestic abuse, teenage pregnancy, increase in crime rates, etc. In such cases, sport can be used as a tool to engage with youth, to further empower and educate them about their rights. However, the pandemic and insufficiency of resources make it difficult to virtually use sport. There is thus a need to support the sport for development organizations, in order for them to drive change in the slum and ghetto communities.
Sports to the rescue
During the first wave of the pandemic, there was a rise in several unwanted situations, like an increase in teenage pregnancies, lack of employment among the youths, increased crime rates due. In order to overcome such circumstances, Uganda Tchoukball Association introduced weekly tchoukball trainings and coaching as a way to empower young girls to fight for their rights and freedoms, as well as use tchoukball sport as a tool for psycho-social support.
Unfortunately, during the second wave, the Uganda Tchoukball Association like many other sports organizations, had limited access to training fields, coupled with limited resources to extend support in kind to its players and young people. The fear of a third wave and limited capacities of international and government agencies were some of the factors responsible for deterring the provision of aid to the slum communities.
Despite the challenging circumstances, Uganda Tchoukball Association was able to partner with other community interventions to create safer, sustainable places for slum girls and youth through the introduction of trainings in both soft and hard skills, as a way to make them economically independent. In order to make this happen, all the girls and youth were made to get a clear understanding on controlling and overcoming COVID-19.
While it’s important to follow the preventive measures, the slum and ghetto dwellers, where most of the young female players live, are extremely congested. This makes the implementation of COVID-19 standard operating procedures ineffective in these areas.
Uganda Tchoukball Association, in partnership with Students Without Borders, plans on reaching out to the female sports and youth players in the slum & ghetto communities to ensure and implement measures to control COVID-19 such as encouraging social distancing means and sanitation methods in slums and other informal settlements of Kampala city.
Ismail Waiswa is the president for Uganda Tchoukball Association and also servces as the Executive Director, Students Without Borders, Uganda.