Uganda

Last updated October 26, 2020

Today’s Status, Looking Towards Spring 2021 — Blue

Closed airports were a big roadblock for a Fall 2020 semester, but Uganda re-opened airports October 1st.  It’s big news since things have been shut down since March. Schools also re-opened which is another thing we have been watching for. Uganda has used their past experience of handling other outbreaks to do quite well managing cases of COVID-19 — trends on reported cases are heading in the right direction, which is really good news. 

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 can change 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. Not being able to fly into the country has been a big roadblock, so we’re happy to see that opening up before Spring 2021.  This reopening is part of phase 1, with phase 2 rolling out in January 2021. It’s projected that the final phase will be in March of 2021, which will mean operating the airport at full capacity.

While it’s a piece of good news, there are still some details to be sorted out. Right now, we are waiting to see what sort of tourist activities will be open (or if travelers/those here on business would need to stay in specific hotels, etc).  We will be watching these parameters closely before moving Uganda to Green, and we expect that to happen for the Spring 2021 group.

With the airports newly reopened, visa processing for foreigners is on its way.

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 for our Spring 2021 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 fairly recently saw its first deaths, something other countries experienced much earlier in the virus.

Currently (as of October 26th), Uganda has an average of 9 active cases per 100,000 people.

Testing equipment and capabilities are available in Uganda, unlike some other African countries.

On October 15, schools opened for classes. This announcement is new and the details are still being sorted out, like what ILP classes will look like or if our volunteers would have any restrictions on interacting with the children. That will be a deciding factor before moving Uganda to Green, but we’re very happy to see the schools open after being closed for so long.

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 already up and running! 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 closed.

In-country travel is allowed 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 as officially open to tourism. 

Some nearby countries have opened their borders but because Uganda has barred entry of foreigners, out-of-country travel would not be allowed. But, we’re waiting for the government announcement in September that could change that.

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 Spring 2021 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. Departures for Spring 2021 are still months off and a lot could be decided before departing … and even more could change for Summer 2021 volunteers. 

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!