COVID 19 AND THE SAFETY GAP-Urban Thinkers Campus Webinar

Much has been said much has been done and much has been practiced to keep the COVID 19 at bay. However, it is worth noting that the response has been on healthy practices and not towards safety in most households and within the city. In this regard, it has been noted that domestic violence has risen with some cases of death being reported.

Health Chief Administration Secretary, Mercy Mwangangi reportedly said the Gender Violence Recovery Centre and the National Council on Administration of Justice have seen an increase in the cases of domestic, gender-based and sexual violence perpetrated by close relatives and guardians during this pandemic.

The upsurge is caused by the rising cases of job losses, others forced to stay with abusive spouses, mental and psychological effects of the pandemic among others. In a sad case in Kibera, a man was hacked to death by his wife and dumped in a water tank after a quarrel ensued over who was to buy food for the family. There are many sad cases such as this that go unreported largely because some do not result to death, or in most cases, the women, who are the most affected, would rather deal with the situation at a family level.

The COVID 19 has brought discord in most homes and notably Kibera where poverty is a stark reality. Adherence to social distance, washing hands, wearing masks residents find it difficult to practice. It is sufficed to say that the locals here live one day at a time, for them, this is a rich man’s disease.

However, this kind of thought pattern does not limit them from the Government directives. For instance, observance of curfew is a must for all Kenyan citizens with exception of those on the frontline.

Kibera has a population that lives on less than a dollar a day. Most locals had established roadside food vending spots targeting those who are going back home after a hard day’s work. This has dealt a great blow to the economic status of women who ran this ‘vibandas’ as they are known locally.

As they sit and wait at home, often some without a way forward, quarrels are abound to ensue. This greatly affects children who are often third party victims in domestic violence

With the COVID 19 cases rising daily, it is our hope that the domestic violence cases will not rise and that the Government of Kenya will take food distribution to each and every household in Kibera and not to a selected few.

Join our campaign as we discuss the safety gap on 11 May 2020, 15:30p.m. – 17:00p.m at the Urban Thinkers Campus Webinar


“We cry ourselves to sleep” –the plight of the adolescent girl during COVID 19

Walking through the shanty houses one cannot but wonder if those in informal settlements are safe from this pandemic.  With the rising gender based violence and street harassment are the girls safe in this squalid neighborhood that is already straining from the stark poverty?

What measures is the government taking to prevent sexual harassment and violence affecting our girls and women with disability in informal settlements?. Achieng responded to this question during an awareness campaign on COVID 19 held in the slum by Polycom Development.

She says, “We are not able to learn well from home. There are a lot of distractions from outside from neighbors and little children playing”. She continues to say that sanitation is a big challenge. They cannot access tap water but can only hope for rain. “Our parents are jobless, we don’t have food, we sometimes cry ourselves to sleep when my parents don’t get anything for our empty stomachs and sometimes we shut our ears as our parents bicker about the whole night. This has often led to violence metted on my mother”.

“This for me is so painful”. She says amidst sobs. “I wish COVID 19 never traced its way to Africa”.


We have to Eat #DignifiedResponse to women and girls living in informal settlements

Polycom Development Project has been at the forefront to ensure women and girls in Kibera do not suffer due to the COVID 19 pandemic. It is surprising to note that food is distributed but majority of the marginalized women are finding this exercise difficult. Take for instance, Stella a thirteen year old girl living with her parents in the sprawling Kibera slums.

Life here has been unbearable and the pandemic has made the situation worse.  From a household that earns two dollars a day, the disease has rendered them hunger stricken. Food was cheaper but with restricted movement, this has affected their income. They as a family have to eat one meal a day.  With a desperate look drawn on her face, Stella has nothing more to say but ask the Government to consider giving them stipends instead of daily cuing up for food.

This is a difficult period for the household of four. If they are caught without masks, they are arrested; if they are caught outside during curfew they are arrested. “What can we do”? She asks amidst sobs. She continues, “We have to eat’.

#DignifiedResponse to women and girls living in informal settlements