The residents of Kakuma have been worried about the Covid-19 pandemic, which has affected many countries but has yet to reach the camp. On 13th March 2020, Kenya announced its first case of Corona Virus, and fear rose in the camp when it was reported in The Daily Nation on March 20th that four people had been detained while attempting to enter Kakuma by road. Due to concerns that they might have been infected by coronavirus, they were put into isolation. The three Somali-Americans men were all relatives; the eldest had just returned from the US, and he was accompanied on the road by his son and grandson.
UNHCR and its partnering agencies such as Danish Refugee Council (DRC), FilmAid Kenya, World Food Program (WFP), Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and International Rescue Committee (IRC) have implemented a number of safety measures and guidelines to ensure refugees’ safety.
Awareness creation by the camp agencies around Kakuma 1 area/KANERE
FilmAid International in collaboration with Deutsche Welle Akademie have been reaching out to communities in the camp to raise awareness concerning Covid-19 by the use of loudspeakers in 12 languages spoken in the camp. Amina, a resident of Kakuma 2 and a mother of four from Somalia says, “I am happy with the concern from FilmAid and to receive information about CoronaVirus in my own language”.
Relay Community Network is an online application used by Kakuma residents that pushes information from phone to phone without relying on mobile network coverage. Information is provided from different sources, including both local agencies and global news outlets.
Community staff working with the Relay Network have been visiting community leaders in the camp distributing paper guidelines to be pinned at the community gates, which illustrate measures to be observed under social distancing policy.
Lutheran World Federation has been monitoring the situations closely with community leaders to check if there are conflict cases within each block. The organization has as well tried to find out what does each community needs to combat Covid-19. Each leader is expected to report back to LWF by sending text and voice recordings through Whatsapp, thereby avoiding physical gatherings.
Awareness creation by NGOs in Kakuma 4 area, section of the refugee camp/KANERE
Kassim Abdi the Zonal Chairman of Kakuma 2 explains that, “I have created enough awareness in my society to ensure safety measures are practiced in each household, so that people will stay safe. This is through the guidance of different agencies operating in Kakuma that are working closely with Community Leaders.”
On 30th March 2020 World Food Program released Guidelines that will be followed in the three Food Distribution Centers in Kakuma 1, Kakuma 2 and Kakuma 4 respectively some of the guidelines included hand-washing measures at each center, temperature checks when refugees arrive to collect their food, and maintenance of at least 2 meters between each person present.
The International Rescue Committee also undertaken a door to door hand-washing campaign, reaching many refugee residents: they illustrated the practice of hand washing and insisted on the maintenance of proper hygiene in each household.
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