Language experts from Makerere University in collaboration with public health officials have translated key messages about COVID-19 in six major languages in Uganda namely; Luganda, Runyankore-Rukiga, Ateso, Luo, Lugbarati and Kiswahili, including Braille for the visually impaired.
According to the experts, led by Dr Allen Asiimwe from the Department of African Languages, MakerereUniversity, the exercise was born out of the observation that there are communities and individuals in Uganda who are not well sensitized about COVID-19 due to language challenges.
The exercise was part a research project titled “Communicating COVID-19-related messages in multilingual contexts” that was supported by the Government of Uganda under the Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund (RIF). Members of the research team included Dr Asiimwe (Principal Investigator), Dr. Sarah Nakijjoba, Dr. Medadi Ssentanda, Dr. Innocent Masengo, Mr. Chris Sserwaniko.
Launching the translated materials at Makerere University on 2nd September 2020, Dr Asiimwe explained that most messages about the pandemic were communicated in English yet Uganda is a linguistically diverse country with so many people who are not proficient in English.