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UN-Habitat celebrates two million hand washes in Kibra, Mathare

The United Nations Habitat celebrated attaining two million hand washes in Kibera and Mathare informal settlements by launching a drive to distribute 10,000 free face masks to the residents.
The international agency had in mid-March installed several hand washing machines in the two slums which have borne the hardest brunt of Covid-19 in Nairobi County to help residents who could not easily afford the services.
UN-Habitat also partnered with youths in the area to disseminate information about the novel virus in the two most populous informal settlements and teach residents how to wash their hands properly as well as help in contact tracing working closely with Ministry of Health officials.
Speaking while marking the end of the International Youth week at Olympic Primary School in Kibra sub-County, UN-Habitat Youth Programme officer Linus Sijenyi said they have put together five cohorts of youths made up of 80 members per group to help in sensitising residents on preventive measures against Covid-19.
As of August 15, 2020, Kenya had lost 472 individuals from the disease after recording 29,849 positive cases from 387,670 tests carried out since March with only 15, 970 people recovering from the disease.
“Our strategy is prevention and so we use the youths to encourage small scale traders like mama mbogas and those with shops and stalls to also have their own hand washing points for their customers as this is one of the ways to prevent the spread of the virus in the community,” said Mr Sijenyi.
He said that the 10,000 branded face masks have been produced locally by women from the two informal settlements as part of an empowerment programme launched by the agency in collaboration with the Victor Wanyama Foundation.
UN Habitat Youth Programmes Officer Linus Sijenyi awards one of the youths involved in the programme. PHOTO | COLLINS OMULO
The UN officer explained that the women sell the face masks to them at Sh70 instead of the normal Sh50 with the difference being their income.

“Wearing of face masks has now become part of our day to day dressing. We saw it best to engage the local women to sew the masks as part of empowering them during this hard economic times by providing for them a way to earn a living from what they make out of the project,” he said while calling upon more partners to come on board to support the initiative.

On his part, Moses Omondi, founder of the Kibra community emergency response team, said that there is need to empower community organisations so that they can also help combat spread of Covid-19.

He explained that one of the ways that his team had been combating the pandemic was through the sourcing and distributing of resources to the needy in Kibra.
“We combat the effects of the pandemic through one, collecting numbers of needy families and imploring well wishers to send them money. In recent past an individual household has received as much as Sh4,000 to buy food.The other way is buying food items, packaging them and distributing them to needy households,” said Mr Omondi.