Updated: Jan 26
COVID - 19 has affected us all in one way or another. To date (02 April 2020) we have received little news from the Kenyan authorities. Reporting is not easy, especially from the more rural areas. The official number of cases seems to be remarkably low for such a large country. Just 81 confirmed with one death and three recovered as of 31 March 2020. 37 of these cases are in Nairobi.
Our colleagues in Kenya have been trying to get as much information as possible and will update us a regularly as they can. The greatest concern is the location of reported cases in and around Nairobi; the highest concentrations of which, as reported by the Star Newspaper, are in Kilimani and Westlands - very close to Kibera. People from Kibera that have found labouring work in recent times are mainly employed in these two areas so the risk of infection transfer to the slum is significant.
The population density of Kibera is very high. Even with a conservative estimate of half a million people living in the slum, each person has a space of just 8 square metres on average - and that includes all open spaces. As each home is less than 10 square metres and with 5 or more inhabitants, social distancing is more or less impossible. Should the virus take hold in Kibera, it is easy to see that a massive tragedy could be just round the corner.
Kibera is one of several slums. There may be as many as 2.5 million slum-dwellers in or around Nairobi - 60% of the city's population. Added to this, the health of the average Kiberan is poor. Life expectancy in the 'good' times is far lower than in the UK with some estimates as low as the thirties. One child in five does not reach its fifth birthday.
If you wish to look at the Daily Star report of 30 March then please use this link.
Food Distribution Plans
School Farms Africa (Guernsey) was able to send £3,600 to its sister organisation, School Farms Kenya on 13 May, thanks in part to some generous recent donations.
With unemployment during normal times upwards of 50%, life is always difficult in the slum. During the pandemic virtually no one has legal work and therefore income has all but disappeared. There is normally no government help and the local people rely on the generosity of outsiders.
A local supermarket will supply the food and with help from Academy staff, will pack enough food parcels to give one to each family, including staff, represented in the Academy. There are currently almost 300 children in the Academy but including family members the number we are hoping to support is over 1,200. International Child Care Ministries (ICCM) is helping to provide food for 90 of the children and we will be caring for the rest. We are working closely with ICCM to avoid duplication.
A recent attempt by others to provide food from the back of a lorry resulted in pandemonium with several injuries and tear-gas deployed. Please pray that we will not have any issues when distributing the food which will be done by inviting individual parents to come and collect their parcels at specific times.
The gift from School Farms Africa (Guernsey) will only be sufficient for up to 10 days so if you are able to help us go further, we would be very pleased to hear from you.
Food Distribution Outworked
On 16 May, around 100 food parcels were prepared by School Farms Kenya, ICCM and Academy staff. To minimise the risk of problems, the Headteacher provided a list of the families who were then contacted to collect their food parcel from a nearby shopping mall where the parcels were prepared and supervised. Parents had to bring an Academy child to ensure that the distribution was done fairly and for identification purposes. Sadly we can only help a few people (maybe 1,200) and there is great hunger in the community.
As groups are forbidden under lockdown rules, social distancing had to be carefully managed which meant a steady queue throughout the day. Distribution had to cease before 7 p.m as a curfew applies from that time and until 5 a.m the next day.
A second distribution session is planned for 17 May.
90% of families in Kibera are now living on zero income
A recent National Geographic article paints a sorry picture of life in Kibera. Take a look at:
In this sprawling Kenyan informal settlement, fighting coronavirus requires solidarity
'For many residents of one of Africa’s largest informal urban settlements, coronavirus is yet another obstacle in a life of hardship. Most people exert such effort to sustain themselves and their families each day that the threat of COVID-19 pales in comparison. “If you are struggling to get enough food to stay alive, you don’t have much time to worry about this thing called coronavirus.” says Otieno. “People have heard about it, but most of them can’t spare the time to fear it.”
A recent survey conducted by the Nairobi-based TIFA market research firm found that 90 percent of low-income respondents said COVID-19 had completely eliminated their family income'.
School Farms Africa will do all it can to try to help feed many of the hungry families in Kibera. Realistically, we can only start with our Academy but we can at least help 200 families representing over 1000 people. If you wish to help, please contact us or use the PayPal button.
Guernsey responds to COVID-19 in Kibera
The States of Guernsey Overseas Aid and Development Commission (OADC) has generously given £36,000 to help feed some of the very poorest in Kibera (July 2020). Many food parcels were given to the families associated with the Kibera Academy. The next parcels will be given on Thursday and Friday (16 and 17 July) after the supermarket has had time to re-stock its shelves!
This process will be repeated in August and September after which we all hope the pandemic will have lessened in scope allowing people to try to find work again.
Triathlon in Guernsey - 25 July 2020. Six young people from Guernsey will complete a triathlon event on 25 July in support of four charities responding to the COVID-19 crisis, two of which are local and one is School Farms Africa. Two of the competitors are members of our Guernsey board. Good luck!
Other Issues during 2020
You have to look really hard to find news of other desperate problems in the region, but they are there. COVID -19 is just one of the worries for the population.
Floods. Recent rains have caused havoc in many areas of the country with loss of life and damage to thousands of homes. Reservoirs have been dangerously full resulting in the release of water in huge quantities.
Locusts. The country has been ravaged this spring by vast swarms of locusts not seen for decades. Huge swathes of land have been affected. Now, a few weeks later, a second wave of locusts has appeared. These seem to be more aggressive than the first and experts believe the numbers could be 20 times as high as before.
See this link from a recent BBC report of locusts in the region.
Flies. The warm wet weather has seen a massive increase in flies, especially in Nairobi.