Faced with the sharp increase in prices of everyday products, Ugandans are struggling to make ends meet. Authorities are blaming the situation on the long term effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and the raging war in Ukraine.
With her meager salary of $5 per day, Susan Wasige can no longer afford to get soap which costs $2 or even cooking oil sold at $4, to support herself and her three children. "We can barely buy anything. For weeks now, I have been giving the children food only boiled in water, sometimes when I get margarine, I mix it in the sauce so they can eat it. We even give up sugar because we can't afford it, everything is very expensive. ", says the Kampala resident.
According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, vegetable oil prices rose another 23 percent in March. The Ugandan state minister of Finance, tried to calm the population in a Parliament address two weeks ago, saying his country wasn't the only one affected by these challenges. "The situation has been worsened by the Russian-Ukraine conflict which has further disrupted the supply of oil, cereals such as wheat, corn, sunflower oil as well as essential metals like aluminium and nickel. The two countries are major producers and exporters of these commodities. ", declared David Bahati.
Herbert Jaluum, a business analyst, says the free market system is what is causing damage to citizens in Uganda. "The government should have the capacity or the interest or the will to be able to dictate some of these things, because once you leave everything to market forces then you are leaving everything to the business people or the private sector, comments Herbert Jaluum, CEO of Young Treps, a business management and consultancy firm.
With the major disruptions changing the world order, Uganda will most likely have to make strategic changes and look for new suppliers. Not an easy task, as according to Human rights Watch, in 2020, Kampala imported 48% of its Wheat from Russia and Ukraine.