The Covid19 virus is continuing to spread in East Africa: Uganda has 40,000 reported cases and 330 deaths. By comparison, Spain, with a similar population, has reported 65,000 deaths. Kenya recorded 103,000 cases and 1,800 deaths. Tanzania is not reporting virus statistics.

Undoubtedly, the death rates are higher than reported because of poor statistical-gathering practices; but if they were significantly higher the ladies in the villages would notice the increased burials and there has not been any surge. 

Businesses are mostly operating normally with safety measures in place. Large gatherings are still banned. There is a 9 pm – 6 am curfew in effect in Uganda and from 10 pm - 4 am in Kenya.

Uganda schools are currently going back to in-classroom instruction in a staged re-opening; they closed last March. Kenya schools reopened in January after being closed for nine months but thousands of students failed to show up – particularly teen-age girls. The reasons are yet unclear but our local staff has reported a noticeable rise in pregnancies among unmarried teen-age girls in rural areas during the school closure so that could be a major reason for the reduced classroom sizes. Other contributing factors are pandemic related: with little household income during lock downs, students returned to farming and whatever trade they could manage. Additionally, parents may not be able to afford school fees, uniforms, or the PPE needed to send their children back to school. 

For all these reasons, WMI has resumed loan issuance and training so women can generate much-needed household income. After halting loan issuance for six months, we began issuing loans again in October 2020. We believe it is imperative that we continue to make loans to women on the edge of poverty to support businesses operations. Without WMI’s ongoing program, rural women and their families risk spiraling downward into the poverty we have worked so hard to alleviate over the past 13 years.