Uganda

Last updated April 16, 2021

Today’s Status, Looking Towards Summer 2021 — Blue

Travel to Uganda is open, but young students are not attending in-person classes and home-teaching is not an option. Pre-schools and kindergartens should open some time in June when all other ages will start going to in-person classes. We are expecting to have volunteers here for the Fall 2021 semester.

Check below to get more details on some key aspects that we’re watching. Each of these components help us determine when we’ll be able to send volunteers to Uganda again (it’s stuff you’re going to want to know). Also, this info changes often. Our goal is to keep things current with weekly updates, so check back frequently.

Getting There

As of October 1st, airports re-opened and entry is allowed for most travelers with negative COVID-19 test results. Your Covid test must have been taken (at most) 120 hours before departure from the first embarkation point.

Not being able to fly into the country has been a big roadblock, so we’re happy to see that open up. It’s projected that the final phase will be in March of 2021, which will mean operating the airport at full capacity.

Airports re-opened in October, and visas are being processed again.

Airports are open as of October 1st which was something we’ve anxiously been awaiting. Since things shut down in March, government announcements about borders reopening have been continually pushed back until now. We’re very happy to see this roadblock removed in time for our Summer 2021 semester and don’t anticipate it being an issue for future semesters.

Daily Life

Uganda has seen its fair share of outbreaks before Covid-19: Ebola, Measles, Yellow Fever, and the Marburg Virus, just to name a few. Experts are saying their past experience is part of the reason they were so prepared and have seen success minimizing a COVID-19 outbreak. The country has kept casualties low and saw its first deaths months after other countries. 

Currently (as of April 16th), Uganda has an average of 0.2 active cases per 100,000 people. 

Testing equipment and capabilities are available in Uganda, unlike some other African countries. In February, the President announced that vaccinations had begun for teachers and the elderly.

Currently,  in-person school is allowed for older students, just not for the ages ILP teachers teach (kindergarten and pre-school). Parents and teachers are pushing the government to allow younger kids back at school. Uganda’s president is expected to make a decision and announcement about this in March or April. We expect they will decide to allow younger students for in-person classes — if that’s the case, ILP is planning on moving forward with a Summer 2021 semester.

Most businesses are open and some public transport options are, too. Shopping malls are not open, but the souvenir market in Kampala that ILP volunteers love to visit is! We’re seeing a mixed bag of things currently open, but are happy to see some of our favorite things to do in Uganda are available or are projected to be available soon.

Out & About

Right now, measures like wearing a mask when out in public is required, as is social distancing. Public transportation is generally up and running, just at half-capacity. There currently is still a curfew in place (from 9:00 PM to 6:00 AM) and gyms, cinemas, and other establishments are open, with appropriate social distancing in place. Places of worship are allowed to operate at a maximum of 200 people subject to health guidelines.  

Things like shopping malls, arcades, supermarkets, pharmarices, salons, and more are also open.

Tourists sites all over the country are open, which means you’re fine to white-water raft the Nile river, abseil down Sipi Falls, spot elephants, giraffes, lions, and more on safari, and do a few other favorite in-country adventures.

Over the summer, officials from the European Union have declared Uganda’s parks officially open to tourism, a good sign before things officially opened up for the country in October. 

Additionally, our Local Coordinator anticipates our service projects surrounding springs for clean water are planning to be available for volunteers (pending any major, unexpected changes).

In past semesters, volunteers spent most of their vacation time in Uganda, and maybe one or two vacations exploring Tanzania or nearby Kenya. We’ll have to wait and see what the entry/exit policies are for surrounding countries and how that works with Uganda’s re-entry requirements. Things may change but for the time being, there’s lots and lots to see and experience in Uganda on vacation time.

Okay, now what?  Should I still apply for Uganda?

If you’re thinking “that’s all really good to know, but what does that mean for me?” we have some good news to share: time is still totally on your side.

We’ve seen policies change without notice that have made the difference between us thinking we’ll need to wait longer and helping us determine that a semester in that location is something we’re pretty optimistic about. Sometimes that has happened in the span of just a couple of weeks or even in a single day. We’re thinking a lot can change for the Summer 2021 semester.

So we say start your application now so that you’re ready when the time comes. We are going to need volunteers who are ready to go right when things change for the better, which is why we think it’s a good idea to have your application in (even if things potentially look uncertain right now). Time really is on your side.

We’re also here for all of your questions. We’d love to talk about deferring to a later semester if things still need more time or finding a country right now that’ll be a good fit for you. You can bet that once things open up, you’ll be the first to know!