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Poor Families Forced to Make Tough Choice Between “Social Distancing” and Sleeping Hungry

Mama Mboga

Social distancing has been recommended as one of the most effective ways of controlling the spread of Corona Virus and some countries have already enforced a lockdown to control the movement of people.

Kenya introduced a dusk-dawn curfew from Friday last week and most employees in the formal sector have also been working from home for the past two weeks.

Some sectors in the economy like the hospitality industry have been affected by COVID-19 disruption and some people have lost their jobs already while some have to contend with half salaries until further notice.

People in the informal sector are, however, perhaps the hardest hit by the turn of events. While those in the formal sector are able to adhere to the stay-home directive, the former relies on the day-to-day earnings to make ends meet and it’s nearly impossible to stay at home.

For Sarah Ndanu, a Mama mboga who sales groceries in Nairobi’s Umoja Estate, it’s business as usual as she  n narrates;

“Things are bad. I know the danger I’m putting myself in bu going to the market and coming back to open my “kibanda” but i have no choice. Rent and school fees have to be paid. I have sent my son to the village for the time being but for me and my husband, who is also in the jua kali sector, we have to hustle. We can only pray for God to help us.

Sarah’s situation is not isolated, it’s a similar scenario that Ben Mwangi, a matatu driver operating from Ruiru to Nairobi has to contend with.

Tunajua ungonjwa iko lakini sasa tutakaa nyumbani  watoto wakule nini? kazi lazima ieendelle tu “.We know the pandemic is real but what will our children eat.

Concerned citizens have asked the government to come up with ways to help the most vulnerable members of the community with food rations.

Borrowing  a leaf from Rwanda – Kagame announces measures to support the vulnerable

Last week, Rwandan President Paul Kagame announced a social protection plan aimed at supporting the vulnerable across the country during the lockdown period.

“Relevant institutions are working on a social protection plan, to support the most vulnerable in our community. We need to speed this up. The government will continue to do everything possible, to support Rwandans through this challenging time,” Kagame

A day after President Kagame’s announcement, Rwanda’s Ministry of Local Government announced that it will begin door to door provision of foodstuffs and groceries to vulnerable homes at village and sector level.

Rwanda is on a 14-day (2 weeks) complete lockdown, which started last weekend. The country also banned the unnecessary movement of residents, suspended all international flights and closed its borders,  in a bid to stem the spread of coronavirus.

Kenya coronavirus cases hit 42 as more test positive

Coronavirus cases in Kenya as of Sunday 29th March had increased to 42 as more test positive with health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe warning that the country’s health facilities could soon be stretched as more cases are recorded.

“It is very likely and possible that going forward, our health facilities can be overrun and this is not a government issue alone. If in Italy and America with their facilities have been overrun, is it hard to imagine this can happen in Kenya?” he said.

 

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