It is safe to say that everyone has been affected in one way or other by Covid-19 and the health, social and economic effects the virus visited unto the world. Some people have been infected and unfortunately passed on, some have been infected and recovered, while millions have watched in horror as the pandemic unfolded in different parts of the world.
Kenya, and Africa as a whole is one area that luckily has not had to deal with too many deaths, but the social economic effects that we have had are immense. Here in Kenya for example, Government measures like curfews and lockdowns were necessary to curb the spread of the virus.
These measures resulted in thousands of job losses in both formal and informal sectors, with the worst hit being the urban poor who depend on daily wages to feed their families. Staying afloat in the city has been particularly tough for casual workers as businesses and factories shut down operations, office workers started working from home, and people could not invite mama fuas and gardeners to their homes any more.
Twaweza hit the ground to find out just how bad the problem is in Kenya and later launched a report that rubberstamped what we all knew. This was a very good initiative because as much as we knew of the social economic effects as a general idea, the report by Twaweza gave a more solid representation and also brought forward the voices of the people under the #SautiZaWananchi campaign. The report also has actionable points that can and will be a crucial guide as individuals, organizations, and the country as a whole embark on living life in the new normal.
Twaweza which is Swahili for “We can make it happen” is an international organization that advocates for citizen engagement and Government accountability. To put the report together, the organization conducted phone interviews back in August with 3,000 respondents and asked them questions about what effects Covid-19 has had on them and on the economic status on their households. The findings were them formerly released on October 15th.
One straight forward question that was asked for instance was “If Government gave you Ksh10,000/- what would you do with it?” Not surprisingly, a lot of people said they would prioritize food for their families. The conversation on how Kenyans will move forward from here is one that we are going to have for a long long time to come. Covid-19 has reversed some huge gains that nations and economies had made but we really have no choice to soldier on.
It is a good thing that Kenyans are a resilient lot and despite all that has happened, there is still some optimism that things will get better. It will take time and a lot of hard work but with the right policies in place, we shall get there. That is why I appreciate the efforts of organizations like Twaweza. Getting to the people, knowing the most pressing problems and the coping mechanisms being employed by Kenyans, and coming up with a report which could be a powerful guideline on what policies to employ to help uplift the people.
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