Skip to main content

8 May 2020 - Story

Supporting COVID-19 response in urban informal settlements

By Florence Dzame

In Kibra the largest urban slum in Nairobi and also Africa, Domtilla Ogaro, 49, receives a consignment of infection and disease prevention control items from Save the Children. Ogaro is the sub county clinical officer with 24 years of experience as a health worker. Most of Kibra slum residents live in extreme poverty, earning less than $1.00 per day. A great majority of the people living in this slum lack access to basic services, including electricity, running water, and medical care. As cases of COVID-19 continue to rise in the country, a big source of concern is how it will spread and affect those that live in congested low-income areas. Save the Children has mobilized quickly to alleviate the impact of COVID-19 in informal settlements of Kibra and Mathare slums in Nairobi.

“We are distributing infection and prevention control items like gloves, handwashing stations, masks, hand sanitizers. We are conducting trainings for health care workers and supporting messages on community radio to help prevent the spread of COVID-19,” said Ken Kagunda Program Manager Save the Children.

So far in Kibra slums we have distributed 25 hand washing equipment, 50 bar soaps, 37 five liter jerry cans of soap, 13 boxes (50 pieces each) of surgical masks, and 13 googles with support from various donors.

“The community here needs a lot of sensitization since there is a lot of misinformation and stigma. They also need more handwashing facilities and masks since the population is large and they are very congested. Not everyone is able to afford masks since poverty levels are high, said Ogaro.

Francis Odera, 40, a Community Health Volunteer (CHV) from the area confirms Ogaro’s remarks. He has worked as a CHV for 10 years and is a father of six children.

“The community needs more sensitization because there is a lot of fear. Some community members don’t understand COVID-19 at all and only put on masks to avoid arrest by the police,” he said.

By 20 May, 963 cases have been confirmed in the country and the government has intensified mass testing in targeted areas, including on enhancing screening along border points. The Government has also restricted across the Kenya- Tanzania & Kenya - Somalia border.

Save the Children is responding to COVID-19 through programmatic interventions that support risk communication and community engagement, health and nutrition, water sanitation and hygiene (WASH), child protection and education and food security and livelihood for vulnerable children and families.