As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Kenya, the government has taken strict preventive measures to contain its spread. Some of these measures include compulsory wearing of masks all the time while in public places, washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds several times a day, maintaining a distance of at least 1.5 meters from others and all businesses have to provide soap and water, or alcohol based sanitizers to their customers. Failure to adhere to these measures will result in a jail term of six months jail or a fine of $200.
However, most of these measures do not seem to include people in rural or densely populated areas.
The focus has been on the national prevention of the disease spreading in the community. The government announced the lockdown of four towns, Kilifi, Mombasa, Nairobi and Kwale, where the highest number of COVID-19 cases have been reported. President Uhuru Kenyatta on April 6 announced a 21-day ban on movement into and out of these towns with limited movement within the towns.
Kenya’s Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe following this, also announced a lock down of Mandera county in Northern Kenya for 21 days due to a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases. The lockdown was further extended for another 21 days by the President on April 25. Authorities also imposed a curfew between 5pm and 6am to help reduce the impact of these measures in some ways, announced that the cost of water would be reduced.
Kenya has so far reported 8,067 COVID-19 cases deaths and 2,414 recoveries. A number of cases are from densely populated areas including the slums, such as Kawangware and Dandora.
The challenge however is how to prevent and contain the disease from spreading in these crowded settlements where social distancing and the availability of clean water for hand washing is a challenge. Recently in Kibera, one of the biggest slums in Kenya, there was a stampede as people struggled for food given as aid, and many were injured.
According to the UN, slums are home to close to 40 percent of families in Africa. The World Health Organisation (WHO) and African leaders have raised their concerns about the potential challenge COVID-19 poses to slums and congested environments.
Some of the key challenges in slums are poor sanitation, limited access to clean water, and closely built houses. This means that measures like social distancing and frequent handwashing will be next to impossible for people in slums to observe.
World Health Organisation (WHO) Director General Tedros Ghebreyesus recently called on governments to protect their poorest communities from the spread of COVID-19. These he said include people without regular incomes who require cushioning to enable them to maintain dignity and comply with the COVID-19 public health measures.
In Mathare, a slum in Kenya, a group of young men have teamed up with Billian to ensure that people here have access to water for hand washing and general…