Calls Made To Raise Hygiene Standards In Informal Settlements To Curb Covid-19 Spread

With limited resources in informal settings across cities and towns across the country, one wonders what preventative measures are being taken to reduce the spread of Covid-19 virus where there limited reliable water sources or even roads.

Since the announcement of first COVID-19 case in Kenya, Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO), an organisation that empowers communities in informal settlement areas, has initiated a public health campaign in 13 informal areas nation-wide including, Kibera, Mathare, Korogocho, Mukuru, Kawangware, Bangladesh, Mishomoroni in Mombasa and Obunga in Kisumu among  others.

A World Bank Report on the status of  Kenyan cities) that surveyed people living in 15 major cities and towns revealed almost a third (32%) of the population live in informal areas.
In Kenya, six out of every 10 people (60%) in Kisumu live in a slum while, four out of every 10 people (41%) in Nairobi are in informal areas. Eldoret was at 29% while smaller towns like Kakamega, Kitui, Machakos, Malindi, Nakuru, Nyeri and Garissa had fewer people (6%) living in slums. 
According to Catherine Gathura of SHOFCO the organization has set up 186 hand washing stations across all 13 sites, located at main entry points to Nairobi’s Kibra slum.
“These are manned by volunteers that instruct people to wash their hands upon entering and exiting the slum, all in a bid to keep the virus out,” said SHOFCO’s Catherine Gathura

Gathura has said in Kibera alone, almost 250,000 people have used our hand washing stations as of 16th March 2020 and approximately 1.2Million people in April 2020.

To meet the needs of these masses, SHOFCO has partnered with several corporates to source 400,000 bars of soap and sanitisers for distribution to every household in the slums where they work.
Kim-Fay, manufacturers of hygiene products, joined in the initiative to donate hand sanitisers through SHOFCO in support of the campaign.
Speaking about the partnership, Andrew Muriithi, Marketing Manager at Kim-Fay said, “We seek to uplift lives and therefore came onboard to underscore the value of proper handwashing methods as well as hand drying techniques, to prevent re-contaminating hands.”

In a crisis, access to timely and accurate information is paramount. Hence, in a bid to combatting misinformation, SHOFCO is setting up a rumour tracking app that enables community members to report claims and rumours via community influencers on the SMS platform.

“We are setting up a rumour tracking appthat enables community members to report claims and rumours via community influencers on an SMS platform. SHOFCO then collects, analyses, and responds to misinformation,” added Gathura

Beyond the app, SHOFCO has mobilized 97community health workers and 250 urban networkers who have been instrumental in conducting a door to door campaign to increase awareness of the COVID-19 virus as well as distribute educational pamphlets in Swahili.