Response to Covid 19 in Kibera, Korogocho and Migori
Development Associates for Young Africans Kenya (DAY-AFRICA) is a youth led nongovernmental organization in Kenya. We work in the poor urban and rural communities in Kenya. Our main objective is to provide economic solution to unemployed young people in the society.
We also offer health promotional activities to ensure young people remain safe in the fight against communicable and non communicable diseases.
World over, Covid 19 was first discovered in Wuhan china, the disease has so far threatened humanity across the Globe with above 1 million infected people worldwide.
In Kenya, the first case of Covid 19 was discovered on 13 March 2020. Since then the cases have risen steadily to over 100 in a span of two weeks.
With such a high rate of the virus spreading the government of Kenya is providing testing and isolation of those who are suspected to carrier of the pandemic. In Kenya the first cases were all imported.
However as time passes it has now been realized that the pandemic is fast spreading among the citizens with new cases being discovered among people without travel history.Quarantine centers
In realization that this disease will spread very fast the government established quarantine and isolation centers. Much focus has been given to the isolation centers.
Thus the general community has been left to take care of themselves and learn from media.
The media has been doing a good job in educating the public by simply following WHO rules on hand washing with soap and water to help fight the pandemic. Even in these quarantine centers a lot needs to be done.
After being taken to a government facility immediately after I landed back in Kenya I realized that the motive of government to keep its citizen safe was a good idea.
I voluntarily joined other Kenyans who had just returned from different parts of the world. And gracefully we were ushered in to one of the public quarantine centers. Kenya Medical Training Collage (KMTC) was the place to be.Poor sanitation and lack of organization
On I arrival at KMTC I was shocked by seeing people mingling and socializing as if COVID 19 was just another story.
When I asked one of the medical officers who ushered us in he lacked words to respond candidly.
I asked him again and what he told me was “you need to educate your brothers because they seems to have no knowledge about Covid 19.”Shared amenities without soap
I was provided with a room to stay but to my surprise the common public bathroom, a place we were to share between about 50 of us, had no soap nor sanitizer. I wondered loudly how safe we were just in case one of us was sick. This was a real shock on me. I realized that everyone was on his own. I took it upon myself to educate the public on simple measures to ensure we were safe. I was able to share a few masks I had with these people.
I took it upon myself to talk to medical officers who were touring the facility. My action bore more fruits when they realized the real danger we were facing. Through my actions, hand wash equipment and sanitizers were brought. However a lot more needs to be done in these facilities.
Due to lack of targeted and correct information about COVID 19 some people were living their normal lives. Others were socializing and even having drinks without keeping social distance. The tables were never sanitized. It was a terrible situation.Positive COVID 19 cases in Kenya
Recently the government performed testing among the cohort at Kenya Medical Training College. Unfortunately 5 people tested positive. The challenge is these people have not been isolated and we are not sure who they were.
The news came from a daily media briefing. To me it is a time bomb and action must be done. I am lucky I moved out of KMTC but I am happy my efforts have seen light of day.
- How long will it take the government to learn more about the reality compared to the policies in quarantine facilities?
Who will educate the masses on what they need to know?
- Who will provide the less privileged citizens with required water and soap to clean their hands?
Who will provide the poor with face masks to ensure that we remain safe?
All the above questions are the most serious from me and the entire Development Associates for Young Africans Kenya.
Situation among the rural and urban poor - a case of Kibera
Kibera informal settlement is one of the biggest slums in the world. It is home to more than 400,000 Kenyans. Life in Kibera is one of the worst to live. With lack of tap water at household level Kibera sits as a top disaster in waiting. Most of people here live on under two dollars a day and mostly earning is from informal jobs which do not pay much. They cannot afford frequent water and soap as required. Their earrings generally are hand to mouth. Nothing is saved for. The majority prefer to buy food than any other thing. Buying hand sanitizers is something out of question for most of residents here. Having running water is something Kibera residents just dream about. In this type of situation washing hands with soap and water cannot be achieved effectively unless a quick solution is found.
Foot pedal hand washing points
Having grown up in slums I understand well the challenges and risks people in Kibera and rural poor face.
As an organization we would like to help as much as we can. Erecting hand washing points in Kibera and poor rural areas will help much in the fight against Covid 19.
We have design water tanks with foot pedal taps to ensure every person has an opportunity to wash their hands. These taps are unique ones that ensure that hands do not come in to contact with taps to
Residents of Kebera washing hands
ensure 100% hygiene measures are adhered to. By so doing we will help those who are not able to get running water and soap to have them at their door steps.
Manufacturing of face masks
It has been proven by the ministry of health in Kenya that face masks go a long way in preventing droplets of COVID 19 in the air.
Since there are chances of contracting this disease while walking it will be necessary to provide such masks to people in Kibera who otherwise will not be able to buy masks.
By so doing we will be preventing the spread of disease and saving humanity at large.
How we get water for refilling the tanks
Even though Kibera and other informal settlements in Kenya do not have clean running water, there are other private water vendors who have sank boreholes to supply community with clean water. Other than such initiative, there are nearby two main underground water pipes one for World Bank and another for city council. Although they are not directed to the main informal settlement, we are partnering with such vendors to refill our hand washing points
- Safety of our staffs DAY-AFRICA is working closely with ministry of health in ensuring that our front line staffs are provided with relevant information regarding prevention of COVID 19. We are also providing them with protective face mask and the art of social distance while providing service to the community members
Even though majority of Kenyans have televisions and smart phones where they can get information about COVID 19 and how it spreads it is true that most people in kibera do not understand the correct messaging and thus they only know more about hand washing. Delivering messages such as social distancing is a big challenge. This is true even among people who are in quarantine.
The majority want to see a case in their locality before believing the effect of COVID 19. We believe that sharing messages and correct information about COVID 19 will go a long way in saving lives of people living in informal settlement in Nairobi as well rural areas where information is not available. Many people in Kenya still believe that COVID 19 is not a threat and socialization and safe distance is not necessary for them. If we don’t do this no one will do it.