The onset of Covid19 pandemic and the containment measures set and enforced by the government such as lockdown, curfew, wearing of face masks and regular handwashing with soap and sanitizer has affected every aspect of life as understood before the pandemic. Nowhere are the effects more visible than within the slum communities such as Kibera due to high concentration of people and buildings, lack of adequate water and poor sanitation. The effects are both economic and social as families struggle to cope with the pandemic.

To begin with, many people lost sources of livelihood due to the pandemic that resulted in closure of many businesses. Jobs were lost without notice of resuming work hence income. Many residents of Kibera are low-income earners who therefore had little or no saving at all when the pandemic strike. Families were rendered vulnerable since the breadwinners could no longer provide for the needs of the family leading to depression and anxiety within the household which sometimes spilt over to violence.

Many residents of Kibera are small business operators who rely on long hours of operation and get items of trade out of Nairobi. The imposed curfew and lockdown to contain the spread limited hours of operation hence diminished income. Buying power also went down due to reduced or no income since many households who previously had three meals each day started doing with one only. Furthermore, the cost of transport went high due to social distance rule in public transport. Caregivers who do business depend on these modes of transport to ferry goods for trade from the market. Businesses therefore could not be sustained due to sudden loss and many closed up hence rendering families without source of income hence livelihood.

To complicate matters further for these small business owners, the new regulations required them to install hand washing containers with running water and soap at the site of business. Water is not an easy commodity to come by in Kibera forcing many businesses to close due to high cost involved.

The social effects of the pandemic are also as devastating. The loss of income and consequent inability by the caregivers to provide for the needs of the household led to depression and tension within the family. Many cases of violence have been reported as a copying mechanism by breadwinners who were now rendered without income; victims being women and children who cannot protect themselves against such violence hence disrupting the normal family life.

The long closure of schools interrupted learning of children especially those in the slum communities who could not afford the cost of internet for online learning nor the necessary tools for that. As a result, many children engaged in self destructive behaviors due to influence from their peers. There was upsurge in teen pregnancy and drug use among youth population especially in slum areas. This eventually created insecurity within the community since these youths engaged in petty crimes to get money for their drug habits.

The way of life of community was also greatly affected by the pandemic. Social institutions such as churches, mosques, schools and sport facilities were closed down to contain the spread of the virus. These institutions serve a vital role in modeling the behavior of the members of the community. Youths spend most of their time in these institutions hence limiting self-destructive behaviors. The closure of the institutions escalated the social ills witnessed today within the communities.
by Andrew Obara (CSA Agent - Kenya)