Young people must adapt and improvise new economic practices to survive the pandemic and the lockdown, says Pasha Christopher.

The pandemic has swallowed up the economy. 

Many Ugandans have been left unemployed due to the closure of businesses. Most workers in the labour market work in the informal sector, usually referred to as hand-to-mouth jobs, and have been left to feed off their meagre savings through lockdown. For the majority of this vulnerable group, government relief didn’t materialise and for those whom it did it wasn’t enough to sustain three-months in lockdown with no employment. As a result, many people have been compelled to take on subsistence farming to guard against the looming famine, likely to strike soon and continue past the pandemic. The formal sector has also been challenged. They need to map out savings schemes and consider investment in digitisation of their businesses if they want to survive. 

We must adapt and improvise. 

It’s hard when you are forced into idleness, and even more painful when you can’t see a way through to earning a living. But being an ICS peer leader educator has enabled me not to sit back and watch from the sidelines. I believe young people can shift the paradigm, write our own narrative, and solve many of these challenges. Many people are considering opening up new relevant small businesses manufacturing masks and suchlike.

Christopher (author) leading a session on how to make soap with local community members.

I, myself, am trying to help others to adapt to this tough time and generate income in order to make a living. At the same time I want to help those 40% of homes in the world that don’t have access to clean water and soap, which is so essential in stopping the spread of COVID19. I have been teaching others the skills to make liquid soap (we took guidance from the relevant authorities, and were careful to strictly observe social distancing rules). I have been met with great enthusiasm by young people, one of whom declared; “We are so ready to dare!” 

Thanks to Restless Development I was able to invite Mr Ziraba Hassan All, a business and medical professional, to attend a session with young people in my area. He shared his own experiences and helped to embed skills in financial literacy, business planning and management. As I write, young people are starting up liquid soap businesses and supplying it to retail shops and supermarkets. I know that even when this pandemic ends, the skills and knowledge these young people have accumulated will continue. I think there is a whole new dimension of business within the pandemic which is going to have a big influence in the post-pandemic period as well.

Author

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We must adapt and improvise to survive.

by Christopher Pasha Reading time: 2 min
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