The COVID-19 pandemic is far more than a health crisis and continues to negatively impact on societies and economies. Livelihoods have been affected with businesses closing, and others forced to scale down operations. Further, many people have experienced salary cuts while some have been laid off from their jobs. Consequently, many households around the country have been left without a means of income; a pattern that will cause poverty levels to soar. This situation necessitated the government to offer support, but due to the scale of impacts, not everybody has been assisted. To meet the shortfall, National and County governments have partnered with local, regional and international non-governmental institutions in Kenya to assist communities with essentials to survive through the pandemic.
Fishing communities are also impacted by the crisis, adding to the health fears of the COVID-19 virus itself, and the shutdown of tourism and economic activities. These challenges include limited access to fishing grounds and markets due to curfew restrictions instituted in March 2020.
CORDIO East Africa under the NORAD Grant “Innovating and sharing knowledge for coastal resilience in Eastern Africa” partnered with the County governments of Kwale and Kilifi in Kenya, and local authorities in Tanzania, to support vulnerable fishing communities with humanitarian aid. In Kenya, the main beneficiaries of the aid were Mkunguni, Mwaembe and Munje Beach Management Units (BMUs) in Kwale County and Kanamai BMU in Kilifi County. These are communities with whom CORDIO has partnered with for many years.
At the end of July 2020, working through the County authorities, we successfully distributed food and sanitation packages including masks, detergents and water containers to 650 households, enabling us to put smiles on the faces of some community members. However, according to the Kwale sub county COVID-19 response committee chair, there are still more than 16,000 households in need of support. This reveals a grim state of affairs. We would therefore like to call on more organisations to partner with the local authorities to help alleviate suffering.
We would like to acknowledge the County governments of Kwale and Kilifi, County fisheries officers, Ramisi Ward administration and the Sub-county COVID-19 response committee for their support throughout the aid distribution exercise.
By Jason Mwamidi.