During disasters, those on the margins (women, children, the elderly, the poor, persons with disability) often bear the brunt of the adverse effects of disasters. For COVID19, the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions that compromise their immunity are particularly at risk. Consequently, CSOs have had a concerted and coordinated effort to specifically target these groups.
The SDG Kenya Forum therefore sought to find out how Civil Society Organizations in Kenya are responding to the pandemic. To aid in this, the SDG Kenya Forum (or Forum) conducted a survey between 25/03/2020 and 6/03/2020; the main purpose was to find out 1. The effects of COVID19 on work arrangements and activities of CSOs in Kenya, 2. What are the main responses and coping strategies by CSOs to these challenges - including direct responses to COVID19. 3. Suggestions and recommendations for near-term actions to mitigate against the disruptive social and economic impact of COVID19.
Members of the SDG Kenya Forum, mainly CSOs, have provided Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as :face masks, soap, medical supplies, sanitizers and food/water rations in case of lock down to people in informal settlements - especially in Kilifi, Mombasa, Nairobi and Kisumu. Community social workers have been deployed to educate citizens on handwashing and physical distancing, others are providing much needed prevention and control, psychosocial support, among other ways to stop the spread of COVID19.
Alongside the private sector, CSOs have also contributed to policy frameworks such as the proposed Public Health (Prevention, Control and Suppression of COVID19) Rules, 2020; and have provided critical views (focusing on the needs of the most vulnerable).
In the wake of the imposition of a nationwide dusk-till-dawn curfew from 26 March, 2020, various reports of police brutality were reported in the towns of Nairobi, Eldoret, Nakuru, Kisumu and Mombasa - with women, children, journalists and youth bearing the brunt of the violence. These actions led to an uproar from different quarters including a section of leaders, the private sector, Kenyans in the Diaspora, Kenyans online (through social media), the Editors’ Guild and CSOs and CBOs for the police to put an end to brutality in enforcing the curfew to contain the spread of COVID19.
Lastly, misinformation represents a serious challenge that counters progress in the fight against the spread of the COVID19, and actually increases risks of the virus. The right information is essential to ensuring effective responses to COVID19. Still, Article 19 has recommended that public authorities refrain from reliance on criminal prosecution and other repressive laws as the primary means of countering misinformation about COVID19.
Click on the link to read more about what CSOs in Kenya are doing to counter the adverse effects of COVID19 pandemic in the results from the survey.