Almost 80 percent of the population in Nairobi, Kenya, lives in informal settlements where it’s not unusual for families of day laborers to live together in one house. Surviving day to day on the meager wages they typically earn as shop clerks, construction workers, or domestic employees, as many as eight people cook, do homework, eat, and sleep in these tight quarters.
In short, social distancing is a luxury that many poor Kenyans can’t afford.
“If the [COVID-19] pandemic hits here, like it has in North America and other places, it will be just catastrophic” because of the inability to social distance, says Geeta Manek, a Rotary Foundation trustee-elect and member of the Rotary Club of Muthaiga, Kenya. “We’re working very hard, through preventative measures, desperately trying to keep this thing away from us.”
Shortly after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, Joe Otin, governor of Rotary District 9212 (Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, and South Sudan), formed a districtwide response team. Chaired by Nairobi-East Rotarian Joe Kamau, the team is working with clubs across the district to provide hand washing stations, deliver food to families who have lost jobs, and raise money for personal protective equipment.