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Covid-19: Uganda’s Gross Output Reduced from Shs 7.3Trillion In March To Shs 5.8t In April – UBOS Report

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A recent report by Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) has revealed that between the months of March and April 2020, Uganda’s Gross output went down from 7.3 trillion shillings to 5.8 trillion shillings, representing a 21% reduction.

The report was drafted from a High Frequency Phone Survey by UBOS with support by the World Bank to assess COVID-19 impacts on the social economic wellbeing in a wide range of areas including food security, job loss, reduced aid, increased domestic violence, loss of remittances and negative coping strategies.

The findings are based on two surveys, that is households and businesses.

The survey on households collected information on knowledge, behavior and concerns related to COVID-19 transmission in addition to access to basic needs, employment and livelihood, safety nets, shocks, agriculture and other businesses.

The high frequency phone survey was launched in June 2020 and had it’s first round of findings released today Wednesday 19th August 2020. It will be implemented for 12 rounds on a monthly basis meaning that it will take a period 12 months.

SURVEY FINDINGS ON BUSINESSES

The survey about COVID-19 impacts on business covered formal business establishments and has two modules, that is production module (Gross output) and business operations dynamics module.

William Anguyo, the acting Director Business and Industry Statistics at UBOS who presented the survey findings on businesses said that an administrative data for 25,616 formal establishments and 324 public institutions were covered under production module while 2,377 private business establishments and key areas of employment, capacity utilization, coping mechanisms and introduction of new products were covered under business operations dynamics module.

Anguyo revealed that the overall estimated Gross output went down from 7.3 trillion shillings in March to 5.8 trillion in April 2020 representing a 21% reduction.

On the issue of operation status, Anguyo said, “about 29% of the businesses closed operations during the period, with majority being in Real Estate, arts and entertainment and recreation sectors. Majority of the businesses that remained operational were agriculture and forestry, public administration and defense, social security, human health and social work. We are all aware that hospitals, clinics remained open.”

On capacity utilization, the report revealed that for the manufacturing sector, about 34.8% and 34.5% of establishments operated between 26% to 50% and 51% to 75% respectively.

However, 4.8% of the establishments operated between 76% and 99%.

2.1% of the establishments introduced new products during the period. At sector level, the percentage of businesses in manufacturing, information and communications and finance and insurance that introduced new products in the reference period was at 5.1%, 8.1% and 6.8% respectively.

On the issue of payroll size, the survey established that 51.5% of the establishments reduced their payroll size as a result of the lockdown.

The most affected sectors were accommodation and food service at 77.4%, transport and storage at 62.2%, administration and support at 79.7%, manufacturing at 59.4%, trade (wholesale and retail) at 45.1% and arts, entertainment and Recreation Sectors at 50.2%.

However, the utilities sector such as power generation and distribution, water and sewerage, public administration such as policing, defense, tax bodies and civil service were least affected by the reduction of payroll size.

On the issue of safety measures, the report revealed that over three quarters (85.8%) of businesses put in place safety measures in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.

SURVEY FINDINGS ON

Stephen Baryahirwa, the acting Director socio economic surveys at UBOS who presented the findings of COVID-19 impacts on household level said that topics such as knowledge, behavior and concerns about COVID-19, access to goods and services, employment, agricultural activities, income losses, food service, shocks and coping strategies and safety nets were tackled.

Baryahirwa said that 83% of respondents reported dry cough to be COVID-19 symptom and there was no significant differences in reporting by the level of respondent’s education.

“On the other hand, while fever was mentioned by 67% of respondents, the awareness of this symptom was significantly lower among those that never attended school (48%). Only 36% of respondents named shortness of breath as a COVID-19 symptom and almost nobody mentioned loss of smell or taste (4%),” said Baryahirwa.

The respondents were well informed about the important preventive measures such as hand washing (100%), avoiding gatherings (98%), wearing of face masks (95%), social distancing (91%) and avoiding touching the face (86%).

On the issue of access to basic needs, less than 1% of households had issues accessing water while almost 18% struggled having enough soap to wash hands. This share is largely in rural areas (20%) and among the poorest households (30%). The absolute majority of those who did not have enough soap, point to economic reasons; 67% could not afford it, 13% had no cash to buy while 8% said high prices.

On access to staple and non-staple food, most households needed to buy the main staple food, but the ratio is lower in rural areas (72%) than urban areas (85%).

Concerning employment and livelihood, the report revealed that 70% of the respondents were still working the week before the interview, more than half of the non working respondents stopped working after the restrictions were put in place in response to COVID-19 transmission.

More than 17% of respondents in central and Eastern Uganda stopped working after 20th March when the government closed schools and public offices.

Since COVID-19 outbreak, 87% of households have reported reduced income or no earnings from at least one of their sources of livelihood.

90% of households involved in non farm family business suffered income losses subsequent to COVID-19 outbreak.



Source – chimpreports.com

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Yellen: Private funds also needed to tackle climate change | Climate News

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The cost of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 could climb to $2.5 trillion over 10 years for the US alone, according to one estimate.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said private financing, and not just government spending, will be needed to tackle the “existential threat” of climate change.

The overall cost of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 — in line with the 2015 Paris Agreement that the U.S. has rejoined — could run to $2.5 trillion over 10 years for the U.S. alone, according to one estimate, Yellen said in a speech to a virtual conference Wednesday organized by the Institute of International Finance.

“It’s going to be tremendously important for the financial services industry to marshal and allocate capital that’s needed to make the transition toward net-zero” emissions, she said in a question-and-answer segment that followed the speech. “Massive investments are likely to be needed and the bulk has to be private.”

The Treasury chief also highlighted the need to strengthen financial risk disclosures — making them more reliable, consistent and comparable across markets and countries — so investors can accurately gauge risks and opportunities.

Yellen pledged that the U.S. will help developing countries that are especially vulnerable to threats from climate change, but stopped short of making any specific financial promises on that front.

The infrastructure-focused economic proposal that President Joe Biden unveiled last month, including money to address climate change, “will be the most significant public investment in America since the 1960s, dramatically reducing U.S. emissions by greening the electricity and transportation sectors,” Yellen said.

Biden Summit

Yellen’s comments come as Biden convenes the leaders of 40 nations, corporate executives and union leaders in a two-day virtual summit on the climate change, with a focus on how to galvanize finance in the endeavor.

While many recent international climate-change discussions have focused on the role of multilateral development banks and formal climate-assistance programs, the conversation at the summit will include a more expansive look at the role of private funds in propelling clean energy and building resilience, administration officials said Wednesday.

Yellen said the Treasury is involved in a number of initiatives aimed at removing hurdles, including efforts to improve financial reporting and increasing the reliability of climate-related disclosures.

The Financial Stability Oversight Council, a multi-agency body of regulators chaired by Yellen, will be the Treasury’s principal tool in attempting to minimize financial-sector risks associated with climate change, she said.

“It’s FSOC’s job to understand these risks, to coordinate across U.S. regulatory agencies in assessing the risks and, if necessary and appropriate, acting to mitigate risks to overall U.S. financial stability,” she said in the Q&A.

Global Harmonization

Yellen said U.S. officials will also work with the multilateral Financial Stability Board and other international bodies to make reporting requirements consistent and comparable across borders. She endorsed a “solid framework” for climate-related disclosures from an FSB task force chaired by Michael R. Bloomberg, founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.

Yellen didn’t offer any specific new pledge of additional U.S. government funding to help developing nations adapt to a warming planet or build clean-energy projects.

Rich countries promised in 2009 that by 2020 they’d collectively devote $100 billion annually to climate finance, but have fallen far short. As the world’s No. 2 emitter of greenhouse-gas emissions, the U.S. is under pressure to loosen its purse strings.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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‘Chad is not a monarchy’, rebels warn interim president 

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Gen Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno

Gen Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno

The son of the late President Idriss Deby Itno of Chad has been named interim president of the central African nation by a transitional military council.

Wednesday’s announcement comes a day after 37-year-old Gen Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno was named head of the 18-month council as the army announced the death of his 68-year-old father from injuries sustained while visiting troops on the front line.

A rebel force known as the Front for Change and Concord in Chad, known by its French acronym FACT, has advanced from the north in recent days toward the capital, N’Djamena. The group had been based in neighbouring Libya. The rebel group released a statement Tuesday vowing to take the capital and depose the younger Deby.   
 
“Chad is not a monarchy,” the statement read. “There can be no dynastic devolution of power in our country.”
 
A day before his death, the elder Deby was declared the winner of Chad’s April 11 election with 79 per cent of the vote, giving him a sixth term in office. Most opposition groups had boycotted the poll, citing arrests and a government ban on opposition rallies.  

Deby had ruled Chad since coming to power in a December 1990 coup, making him one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders. Opponents called him an autocrat and criticized his management of Chadian oil revenue. In 2008, a different rebel force reached N’Djamena and came close to toppling Deby before French and Chadian army forces drove them out of the city.
 
In the West, however, Deby was seen as an important ally in the fight against Islamist extremist groups in West Africa and the Sahel, like Nigeria-based Boko Haram.
 
The Libya-based FACT had attacked a border post on the day of the election and then moved hundreds of kilometres toward the capital. On Monday, the Chadian army said it had inflicted a heavy loss on the rebels, killing more than 300 of them.



Source – observer.ug

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COVID vaccine scarcity and fake doses hamper efforts in Americas | Latin America News

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Amid a limited supply of vaccines, COVID-19 cases have been on the rise across the Americas, PAHO officials said.

Amid a scramble to secure enough coronavirus vaccines in the Americas, there are reports of fake doses proliferating on the black market in several countries in the region, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said on Wednesday.

“We have received some information from Mexico, Argentina and Brazil that some doses have been offered through social media, illegal markets offering vaccines that probably are falsified,” Jarbas Barbosa, assistant director of PAHO said during a weekly news conference.

“They are not real vaccines or maybe they are stolen doses from a health facility that no one can assure that they were properly stored,” Barbosa said.

A woman receiving a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, during a vaccination day campaign in Duque de Caxias near Rio de Janeiro, Brazil [Ricardo Moraes/Reuters]

On Wednesday, The Wall Street Journal reported that Pfizer had identified counterfeit vaccines in Mexico and in Poland. According to the report, 80 people in Mexico had been jabbed with fake doses in a clinic, after paying $1,000 per dose.

According to the report, the people who received the fake vaccines were not adversely affected. Citing authorities, the report said in Poland the fake vaccines were seized before they were administered.

During Wednesday’s news conference, PAHO Director Carissa Etienne said the organisation was also concerned about vaccine hesitancy. She said “insidious rumours and conspiracy theories” were “inspiring fear and costing lives”.

She said PAHO was working with tech companies to tackle misinformation that has quickly proliferated on the internet and on social media sites.

“Because unreliable information spreads quickly, PAHO is collaborating with tech companies like Twitter, Google, and Facebook to address fake news and ensure the public can easily find accurate information,” she said.

The reports of fake vaccines and vaccine hesitancy in the Americas came amid a scarce supply of vaccines in the region, and a rising number of COVID-19 cases.

Brazil has so far vaccinated 11.6 percent of its population and Mexico has vaccinated 8.7 percent. Other nations in the region are lagging behind [Ricardo Moraes/Reuters]

“Latin America is the region that currently has the greatest need for vaccines,” Etienne said, “this region should be prioritised for distribution of vaccines.”

“No one will be safe until we are all safe.”

Nearly half of the world’s coronavirus deaths during the weekend were in the Americas, Etienne said, adding that nearly every country in Central America is reporting a rise in infections. Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, she said were the worst hit.

“Over the weekend, the world reached a tragic milestone – more than three million have lost their lives to COVID, and nearly half of these deaths happened right here in the Americas,” Etienne said.

Chile is seeing a plateau in cases, while Brazil is reporting a drop. But despite the drop, Etienne said, cases in Brazil “remain alarmingly high.” Argentina ranked third regionally in the weekly number of new cases. Colombia, Venezuela, Bolivia and Uruguay were also seeing a worsening. And Mexico, after weeks of decline in new cases, is seeing a slight increase.

Regionally, the United States and Chile have made the most progress in their vaccination campaigns – both have vaccinated about 40 percent of their population – according to Our World in Data.

Uruguay has inoculated more than 30 percent of its population while Brazil has so far vaccinated 11.6 percent and Mexico has vaccinated about 8.7 percent. Other nations in the region are lagging behind.

During the news briefing, officials said most of the region’s countries are relying on the global COVAX mechanism, which aims to equitably distribute vaccines to developing nations.

Etienne said more than 4.2 million vaccine doses have so far been supplied to 29 countries in the Americas through COVAX, and more doses are on the way.





Source – www.aljazeera.com

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