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Key findings
  • Almost nine out of 10 Ugandans (88%) say they are “somewhat” or “very” well informed about the COVID-19 pandemic and efforts to combat it.
  • More than half (55%) of Ugandans say a household member lost a job, a business, or a primary source of income due to the pandemic.
  • Nine out of 10 citizens (89%) say lockdown restrictions were necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Eight in 10 (84%) also support the closure of schools, although three-fourths (76%) say they should have reopened sooner.
  • More than eight in 10 Ugandans (82%) approve of the government’s performance in managing the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Seven in 10 Ugandans (71%) say they are “somewhat likely” or “very likely” to try to get vaccinated.
  • A majority of citizens say the government is justified in using measures that infringe on democratic freedoms during a public health emergency, such as censoring the media (52%) and using security forces to enforce public health mandates (72%). But only 30% would endorse postponing elections or limiting political campaigns because of a pandemic.
  • About six in 10 Ugandans (59%) say the government should invest more in preparing to respond to health emergencies like COVID-19, even if it means fewer resources are available for other health services.

Just 10 days after the country’s first COVID-19 case in March 2020, the Ugandan government ordered a nationwide lockdown (Kyeyune, 2020). A variety of restrictions have continued in place ever since as the country has recorded more than 128,000 infections and more than 3,260 deaths (Biryabarema, 2021; Ministry of Health, 2021; WHO, 2021).

A year later, the government rolled out a COVID-19 vaccination campaign. Despite misinformation on social media disputing vaccine safety and effectiveness, more than 7.8 million vaccine doses had been administered as of 15 December 2021, out of a population of 43 million (UNICEF, 2021; Ministry of Health, 2021; WHO, 2021). At least 800 people reportedly were so eager for the vaccine that they paid fraudsters for counterfeit jabs (Africanews, 2021).

Findings from the most recent Afrobarometer survey show that a large majority of Ugandans say they are likely to try to be vaccinated, even if far fewer trust the government to ensure that the vaccine is safe.

Overall, most Ugandans approve of the government’s management of the COVID-19 response, but majorities also say that pandemic-related assistance was distributed unfairly, that resources intended for the COVID-19 response were lost to government corruption, and that they worry that politicians will use the pandemic to increase their power.

Simon Templer Kodiaga

Simon Kodiaga previously served as the communications coordinator for East Africa at Afrobarometer.

Mabel Nannozi

Mabel Nannozi is the monitoring and evaluation officer for Hatchile Consult Ltd. in Kampala, Uganda.