By Racheal Nabisubi
Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in Uganda, a number of sectors of the economy were hit owing to the three-month lockdown and curfew reinstated by the government to slow down the spread of the virus.
Many businesses were closed and demand subdued because consumer incomes were under pressure as some employers rushed to retrench staff. Others have had to cope with reduced salaries, leading to reduced spending.
To mitigate the adverse effects of the pandemic, most people especially ladies have had to edit their list of essential consumption. This varies from a family woman to a single lady.
This prompts one to make a profound decision on what they consider as basic needs; to pay or not to pay utility bills, medical bills, purchase food stuff, clothing and footwear or manicure and pedicure in this ‘new normal.’
A chat with some people explains what they consider essential and non-essential in these difficult times. Whereas hair and styling might be essential even during this time, to others it is not. Others noted that clothing and footwear are not a priority either.
Ms Emsley Namazzi, a resident of Kisaasi and house wife, says before Covid-19, she would spend money on shopping clothes, outings and eating out with her family.
“Today, the list has changed. Essentials in particular are household requirements like soap, cooking oil, sugar, toothpaste, charcoal and food,” Ms Namazzi says.
She adds that this has prompted her to save a lot more because she does not have to spend on certain things in order to maximise whatever little she might have at hand.
She is now engaged in farming maize, sweet potatoes, nakati, beans and cassava, which also occasionally puts food on her table.
“Quite a lot off hair about Shs40,00 to Shs60,000, manicure Shs30,000, shoes about Shs100,000. Since I spend most of my time indoors, I would not mind spending three months with the same hair style,” she adds.
She further adds that keeping hygienic always plus managing my own house cores with no maid plus paying attention to my own children.
For Ms Roenah Kiseka, a business woman, says she used to spend on her business (dealing in kids clothing and footwear), shopping and saving very little.
Today, she wants to come up with a small business to act as a daily source of income.
Ms Kisekka used to work in arcades around Kampala city centre but she was forced to close her business because of rent arrears.
“I closed down my business because I did not want to incur losses following the president’s directive of keeping most arcades closed even after the continuous easing of the lockdown,” Ms Kisekka says.
She has resorted to purchase items around her home area especially food.
For Ms Patience Kyanga, dealing in decoration along Rubaga Road, her essential consumption is food stuffs. Previously, she would spend on tea leaves and bread. Luckily hair was never her priority.
“The new normal has taught me about the advantages of saving and having more than one source of income. She spends more money on printing out her daughter’s work since schools were closed,” Ms Kayanga says.
For Ms Yvonne Bakunda, digital manager and consultant, says she used to spend on food at restaurants, electronics, make-up and financing relatives.
“Nowadays, my essentials are the basic needs including paying utility bills, and food for all at home. I prioritize family, my children, friends, work, and career growth. Food, body products, clean clothes, baby products, communication, health and internet,” Ms Bakunda says.
She says these adjustments were prompted by a number of factors such as growing up and more responsibilities.
Like any other lady, Ms Santa Anzo, fashion enthusiast, is very selective about her essential consumptions. Hers are; food, medical needs and fashion (clothing – trendy and stylish designs).
“Fashion goes hand in hand with grooming which means that my nails have to be very well manicured and pedicured and nicely coloured in shiny tones but I am a very down to earth person. I love very earth tones and matted colours,” says Ms Anzo.
She adds that nail care and polish is part of her. “I take very good care of my body; my lips have to be well scrubbed, oiled sometimes with a shiny gloss. I love them in earthy tones too so that I am not well glittered.”
Mr Kennedy Zziwa, founder of Zziwa Hair studio commonly known as Hairby Zziwa believes that hair is an essential item for women.
“Hair on a woman defines her character, values and hygiene. These make up and compliment a woman,” says Mr Zziwa.
He adds that hair contributes to a woman’s self-esteem, confidence, boosts morale and acts as re-energizer.