Nairobi, Kenya, July 29 – A new approach in dealing with Covid - 19 pandemic has been launched by Search For Common Ground, an international NGO, with EU support. The 15-month long initiative will help marginalised communities in Kenya to fully implement their Governments’ COVID-19 response measures by providing accurate and trustworthy Government information, which is local adapted and transmitted by trusted messengers, allowing these communities to protect themselves from the virus. At the same time, the initiative will make sure that these communities’ voices are heard by the authorities in a two-way process, through dialogues and feedback mechanisms leading to more effective COVID-19 prevention and management measures.
The initiative, dubbed Pamoja Dhidi ya Corona – Working Together Against Corona, comes at a time when coronavirus patients in Kenya have crossed the 19000 mark with close to 300,000 tests carried out. Stress from the pandemic, job losses and other social economic disruptions have heightened social tensions, mistrust and fear for the future to a delicate point in some communities. In order to counteract these effects, the initiative will create an early warning platform, provide training and coaching for media moderators, launch COVID-19 TV spots and radio programmes and an arts & culture competition, amongst other measures.
Speaking during the launch held at Park Inn Hotel, Nairobi, EU Ambassador for Kenya Simon Mordue said: “This initiative is essentially about strengthening the connections between Kenyan citizens in marginalised communities and the rest of society, as well as the Government, and about preserving and strengthening the social contract during the pandemic”. He added that the initiative is part of a global Team Europe –the EU and the Member States - response to COVID-19: “Team Europe is providing close to KES 40 billion in support to Kenya during the pandemic through a broad range of measures, and our solidarity will continue beyond the immediate health crisis.”
Search For Common Ground’s Swahili Coast Director, Judy Kimamo, corroborated the Ambassador’s views stressing that the initiative aims to have everyone onboard in the fight against COVID-19 by building partnerships between all stakeholders: “Everyone wants to be safe from the virus but measures to address the pandemic haven’t always considered different needs and perspectives, leading to resistance and instances of violence. With this project, we will amplify the voices of communities and make sure everyon, including young people, women, and people living in informal settlements and marginalised areas can understand the best way to stay safe.”
Other features of the initiative are a social cohesion and human rights social media campaign, involving locally-adapted messages, skits, and short personal videos, as well as 32 COVID-19 specific Community Governance Dialogue Forums which will be held monthly in the informal settlements of Mathare and Kibera in Nairobi, Kwale, Mombasa, Kilifi, Tana River and Garissa counties.
This work forms part of a global initiative by the EU and Search For Common Ground which will include similar actions in Tanzania, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Nigeria.