Though the COVID-19 pandemic has affected nearly every person in the world in some way, those living in informal settlements like Kibera continue to experience challenges disproportionately. Carolina for Kibera (CFK) staff has been on the frontlines addressing the COVID-19 pandemic since the first confirmed case in Kenya in March 2020. From combatting misconceptions to improving contact tracing, our local staff has developed a coordinated and tailored response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Kibera.
Currently, one in eight people lives in informal settlements, which are often characterized by overcrowding, high unemployment rates, food insecurity, and a lack of access to basic services such as healthcare and clean water, increasing their vulnerability and risk of infection. Widespread myths and misconceptions about the coronavirus and its transmission can further impede an effective pandemic response. In these conditions, social distancing and self-isolation are virtually impossible.
Our approach is multi-sectoral and has evolved with the everchanging needs of the community. Staff in Kibera have maintained healthcare continuity while also collecting coronavirus samples, combatting misinformation about the coronavirus through WhatsApp and posters, installing handwashing stations, distributing soap and personal protective equipment (PPE), providing counseling and mental health services, delivering food, and keeping students engaged in learning with education packets.
While much of our current work focuses on mitigating the COVID-19 pandemic, our response will have an impact on the long-term health and wellness of community members. We have had to adapt our operations to ensure the safety of the Kibera community, but our facilities continue to provide essential and accessible healthcare and education services during this difficult time. Our response will ensure that the Kibera community has the capacity to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
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