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More Karamoja saving groups collapse as COVID-19 continues to bite

Several village saving groups in Moroto district have collapsed as a result of the COVID-19 that led to the collapse of many businesses.

A survey conducted out by theCooperator last week in Moroto and Napak districts found
that most members have opted to stay away from savings groups because they are unable to raise money for weekly savings.

Moses Lorika, the Chairperson of Orurukai Savings group in Moroto Municipality, said the culture of savings that many Karimojong families were developing had been negatively affected by lack of income at household level due to the pandemic’s effect on the local economy.

“Members have abandoned saving due to the COVID-19 pandemic that led to the collapse of several businesses and worsened poverty levels in the region,” he said.

Lorika says the situation is so dire that some members cannot even afford a single meal a day.

Grace Lokol, a member of Ingarakinai Savings group in Napak district, said contributing to the group’s savings had become difficult especially in families were headed by single mothers.

“It was difficult for me to continue with saving because I could not even afford salt, let alone spare Shs 3,000 to save with the group weekly. So I have failed to save, but I will join the rest of the members when the situation normalizes,” she said.

Jessica Amoding, who belongs to Kitelore Savings in Moroto, said in the past they relied on their small businesses for income, an avenue that was blocked by the nationwide lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of the pandemic.

“In our group, we used to save Shs 5,000 per week, and that was affordable because members were running small businesses. When the country was locked down due to COVID-19, most businesses collapsed and we ended up eating all our capital, so things are not smooth right now,” she said.

Other districts in the region have reported facing the same challenge.

Samson Lokeris the Member of Parliament for Dodoth East in Kaabong said Karamoja needs affirmative action, given how devastating the impact of the pandemic has been on the region.

“When you look at the situation in Kaabong, hunger is killing people almost every day and others have crossed to Kenya begging; how do you expect such a person to save? Saving what now?” he asked.

Lokeris asked government to provide some start-up funds for all the registered SACCOs in order to facilitate their operations and kick-start savings. 

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