- Xavier Lafaire
How NGOs Are Aiding Kibera in the Fight Against Covid-19
“I don’t have any job, I don’t have a life, I don’t have any food for my kids,” said Josephine Muchilwa, just one of many Kiberan women who lost her job due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since nearly all Kiberans work in jobs that require contact with other people, they were hit disproportionately hard when fear of the virus spreading began to grow. And to make matters worse, Kenya mandated strict quarantines which were brutally enforced by the police leaving at least seven people killed and many others severely injured.
Despite this year of brutal hardships, Kibera's close-knit community works hard to provide stability to those struggling to make ends meet. For instance, Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO), a grassroots organization based out of Nairobi, helped to provide Josephine and many others with training in skills that can be utilized even amidst a global pandemic. In addition to job training, SHOFCO has also worked to provide nearly 200 million health screenings to people across the 17 communities they work in. In addition to this, SHOFCO has also installed over 350 handwashing stations at major points in those communities and has provided over eight million liters of clean water. NGOs like SHOFCO help to provide hope to those living in Kibera and neighboring communities, they also serve as an example of how these communities can be so resilient even throughout such terrible times.
In addition to providing sanitization and a deeper sense of community, these NGOs also work to combat the spreading of rumors and misinformation regarding the Covid-19 virus. NGO’s achieve this by utilizing SMS services and door-to-door surveys, to date they have enrolled over 350,000 people in their SMS service. Another crucial service that NGOs provide is food security for those who are most vulnerable. To combat the lack of access to food in Kibera, SHOFCO has been bulk purchasing and distributing the bare essentials to families that are most in danger of starving. To date, they have helped 32,000 people avoid starvation. SHOFCO also helps to fight back against gender-based violence in Kibera. They have responded to over 2,000 cases of gender-based violence and during the months of the pandemic, they have seen an over 90% increase in cases. These services are all essential to simply survive during such harsh conditions and it is inspiring to see grassroots campaigns such as SHOFCO being able to come together to help provide them to those in need.
Another new cause for hope in Kibera is the now more promising outlook regarding the distribution of COVID vaccines to those still in need. Despite an initially very slow rollout of vaccinations due to wealthier countries buying the majority of vaccine doses, recently many countries have announced pledges to donate their excess vaccines to countries that are still struggling with the effects of the virus. For example, Denmark has already announced their commitment to donate 350,000 AstraZeneca vaccines to Kenya. The leaders participating in the G7 conference which just took place in June decided to make the distribution of the vaccine to developing nations a top priority to be able to restart the stagnant economies of communities like Kibera. Through the aid of NGOs, world leaders, and global awareness, slums like Kibera are getting the resources and learning the skills they need to be successful and pass on a better future to their children.