NGO installs thousands of hand-washing bags in Nairobi slums to fight Covid-19
By Monday, Kenya had 887 confirmed cases and 50 deaths from the deadly coronavirus. The pandemic has disrupted the livelihoods of people and in most informal settlements, it is even difficult to follow the government directives such as social distancing, using sanitizers and washing hands frequently.
Proper washing of hands has been emphasized as one of the key ways to avoid contacting and stopping the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
However, getting equipment for the same has been a challenge, especially in the informal settlements.
More 20-litre jerrycans have been converted into hand-wash stations by installing taps. But even that is expensive for ordinary citizens.
Partners for Care, an organization based in Kahawa Sukari, has stepped in to fill that gap by donating portable backpack that are used for washing hands.
The organization has donated more than 2500 portable hand wash bags to several slums within Nairobi.
“The pandemic has affected livelihoods of many people in the informal settlements and we thought it wise to at least remember them by donating the portable hand wash bags to help them wash their hands frequently,” the Director of the NGO, Samwel Wanjau, explained.
“These bags are made in Turkey but we are soon starting local production and that will create more jobs and also increase the capacity hence we can support more vulnerable members of the society,” he said.
In adhering to government directive of social distancing Partner for Care have been working with community leaders in the distribution of the water backpack.
After receiving the water backpack, the community leaders set up different hand wash station within the areas.
Mostly there are targeting areas within their communities with businesses that are still on-going as everyone tries to make ends meet.
Mary Mugambi, a resident of Kahawa Sukari says the hand wash bag has played a vital role during this pandemic, mostly in the market areas.
“People in these small market now wash their hands frequently and apart from just avoiding the spread of the coronavirus, washing hands helps avoid many illnesses and we are very thankful. My hope is more hand-wash stations can be set within the neighbourhood,” she said.
Partners for Care has distributed the bags in Marurui, Kibra, Kahawa Sukari, Mathare and other informal settlements within Nairobi since the pandemic started in the country in March.
Before the coronavirus, the organization was settling up hand washing point in schools around the country.
Connie Cheren, CEO and Founder of Partners for Care explains that in many of the thousands of classrooms throughout Kenya, running water is a privilege with the learners are required to provide water for personal needs from locations outside the school where water is often contaminated.
“Too often we witnessed schools using re-purposed jerrycans and discarded plastic buckets to transport water to the class and saw those same containers being used to dispense water to the students. These containers once held pesticides, oils, or gasoline, and were now being used as dispensers for drinking water. Something had to change,” Cheren said.