COVID-19. THE SITUATION IN KENYA AND TANZANIA. 6th MAY
There are now 482 confirmed cases in Tanzania. Schools remain closed. There are few restrictions on movement, although mass gathering at weddings and funerals are banned. Three MPs have now died from the disease. The actual rate of infection is being questioned by the President, who says tests are generating false positives. The head of the national laboratory for testing has been suspended. There are press reports of burials taking place at night.
Kenya has 582 confirmed cases. On Tuesday 5th May the government reported the highest daily increase of new infections, 45. Efforts to test have been frustrated by people not wanting to do so in fear of what would then happen if they tested positive, making it hard to get a realistic picture of COVID-19. There is concern that many undiagnosed or untreated underlying conditions (e.g. cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes or cancers) will amplify the impact of COVID-19.
Ace Africa emergency response
Restrictions on travel and social interaction has put some projects on hold. Others are being implemented creatively, using technology to share and gather information or have been adapted, for example with small business start-ups are encouraged to make soap and face masks, rather than dresses.
Ace Africa Kenya and Tanzania want to conduct three new activities in response to COVID-19, including:
1. COVID-19 public health information. Posters and leaflets distributed to health centres, government offices and water points, awareness raising films and radio adverts, and training of community leaders.
2. Handwashing facilities – at health centres and for at risk families. Making and distributing hygienic, easily maintained hand washing facilities (‘leaky tins’), made from local materials.
3. Emergency food packages for the most vulnerable. Making sure the poorest families, many living with HIV, can put food on the table and stay healthy.
Ace Africa Tanzania has already produced a government approved public health information poster with local partners. Low cost hand washing facilities are being manufactured and distributed to health centres. (Over the next three months the aim is to distribute 200 leaky tins per ward in 12 wards to benefit 2,400 households and 14,400 vulnerable individuals).
The UK has been asked to urgently raise emergency funds for this work.
COVID-19. THE SITUATION IN KENYA AND TANZANIA. 20TH APRIL
Tanzania has 180 confirmed cases (86 per cent increase in the past 2 weeks). Schools, universities and colleges continue to be closed. The president of the Medical Association of Tanzania (MAT) Dr Elisha Osati has appealed for protection of health workers after some were infected with COVID-19. Tanzania has not imposed any restrictions on movement or closed its borders. Places of worship remain open.
In Kenya the number of cases is 271. A directive allows police to fine anyone in public without a face mask (up to 20,000 Ksh/£150). Street sellers are rushing to produce and sell masks; prices are increasing. Many will not be able to afford the masks and there is little guidance on their use. Travel continues to be restricted, in Nairobi and on the coast. Particular groups are being targeting for testing and quarantine, eg. families who have recently attended funerals for victims of COVID-19.
THE IMPACT ON OUR WORK AND OUR RESPONSE
In Tanzania our offices remain closed for normal activities, but open for COVID-19 activities. We are developing and implementing COVID-19 projects in Arusha and on Kome island, Mwanza, including:
• development of educational materials and training
• production of leaky tins (cost effective hand washing equipment)
• identification of vulnerable households for emergency aid
• provision of food and basic household packages
• counselling and educational training for people living with AIDs.
Ace has become a key information and training source for the government and community. We have developed information leaflets, posters and training materials along with a film approved by the Regional Coronavirus Coordinator and Arusha District Council development committee. This week Ace Africa distributed leaky tins to the most vulnerable and started training at Ward and village offices.
In Kenya Ace continues to coordinate with government and NGOs; it monitors existing programmes within government requirements/restrictions which limits gatherings to less than 15.
COVID-19 has been seen in Siaya and Homa Bay, but not yet in Kisumu. Staff provide some training to groups in open spaces as part of DREAMS and Egmont funded projects (for adolescent girls and young women and young mothers). We provide remote support to teachers, to maintain fruit trees and kitchen gardens, and farmers groups. Interviews with parents and vulnerable children as part of on-going research continue by phone.
Local groups are being encouraged to repurpose their activities, eg.local soap making and face mask production instead of dress making.
This page will be regularly updated. If you would like to support Ace Africa through these difficult times please click here.
COVID-19. THE SITUATION IN KENYA AND TANZANIA. 14TH APRIL
Tanzania has 59 confirmed cases and three deaths, with new cases in Arusha, Dar and Zanzibar. Our staff report life in Tanzania continuing largely as normal for many. Advice on self-isolation and social distancing is not being observed due to a lack of awareness or education on COVID-19. It is also impossible for the majority of the population to stay at home when they rely on day to day trade to feed their families. The government have today announced schools will extend there closures, until further notice.
People living with HIV (and their children) are terrified to leave home given the potential impact of the virus. They lack basic food, medication and household items. They have little or no information on how to safeguard themselves.
Kenya has 208 cases and 9 deaths. One government funded study used COVID-19 modelling to project that between 300 to 400 people would succumb to the pandemic. This is lower than other studies.
Kenya banned unplanned food distribution on 11th April following chaos and a stampede that killed two people at an event to help impoverished Kenyans deal with COVID-19. The stampede Friday in Kibera occurred after well-wishers were handing out oil, soap, sanitizers and food, among other items.
OUR RESPONSE TO COVID-19
Ace Africa Tanzania has responded as follows:
• working with partners to develop and share COVID-19 educational materials in Swahili and Maa, adapted to the cultural needs of the Maasai and approved by Arusha District Council government personnel and Regional COVID-19 Coordinator. They have been shared with multiple partners who provide outreach services in other districts and include instructions to make and use a ‘leaky tins’ (a cheap and quick hand washing facility)
•producing leaky tins and started to train ward and village leaders who will receive the tins and in turn distribute to households in the community. Ace Africa has managed to source soap and sanitizer from the local brewery which has changed its’ product!
•provide vulnerable people with counselling and support through community volunteers and support groups.
• delivery of emergency household packages will start when logistics and funding allow
Ace Africa Kenya is coordinating with government and NGOs. It is part of a task force in Siaya County, and like Tanzania is looking at public health responses which can be done at scale, should funding be available. It continues to monitor existing programmes within government requirements/restrictions.
PRESS COVERAGE ON THE IMPACT OF COVID-19 IN AFRICA
- ‘We feel abandoned’: HIV positive Tanzanians brace for COVID-19
- The IMF and World Bank are being asked to act on debt relief; another key party will be China
- A letter from Nairobi based journalist on how life has changed for everyone
- Will Africa be ready, asks a Kennedy Odede who grew up in Africa’s biggest slum
COVID 19. THE SITUATION IN KENYA AND TANZANIA. 6TH APRIL
In Kenya there are 158 confirmed cases. Travel to and from Nairobi will be banned for three weeks, effective Monday 6th April. A dusk to dawn curfew remains (“essential services” excluded include health workers, security officers, the media, food dealers and transport workers). A recent survey showed 70 per cent of Kenyans want a complete lockdown, and widely held misunderstandings about the virus.
In Tanzania 22 cases have been reported in Arusha, Dar, Zanzibar and Kagera. Our staff have seen a significant increase in hand washing facilities in Arusha, and a general growing awareness of COVID19. There is little information or news from the government. Parliament, churches, mosques and markets remain open. Adherence to social distancing advice is minimal.
THE IMPACT ON ACE AFRICA, AND OUR RESPONSE TO COVID 19
Government restrictions have made existing work extremely challenging for Ace Africa Kenya. Follow up with vulnerable individuals is taking place by phone. Monitoring and reporting with community groups continues using mobile technology.
Ace Africa Tanzania has been requested by Regional and District authorities to help coordinate the ‘rapid response’ to COVID19. Ace is extremely well placed to reach vulnerable groups and high-risk groups including (a) Maasai population at risk because of their migration habits, lack of information and limited access to clean water (b) people living with HIV, with limited access to treatment and healthy meals.
Our teams in Kenya and Tanzania are developing programmes to stop the spread of COVID 19. Fundraising appeals will be made shortly to support the following activities:
• information – developing posters and leaflets in local languages for health workers and at key locations such as health centres and water points.
• handwashing – Ace will make and provide ‘leaky tins’ and soap dispensers to be distributed in the community, providing essential access to soap and water for many.
• empowering communities – observing government advice, Ace will provide basic training to community representatives to pass on key information on health and hygiene.
• supporting vulnerable households - providing the most vulnerable households with essential food packages.
GENERAL UPDATES ON THE SITUATION IN AFRICA
- One commentator noted that Africa ‘is just weeks behind Europe with COVID-19. If developed nations don’t step in now, we all will pay the price’
- In Tanzania, a leading politician wrote about his own experiences following the diagnosis of his son with COVID-19. The government has been criticized for its handling of the pandemic
- The poorest worldwide face the greatest risk from this virus.
30 MARCH: UPDATES FROM THE FIELD
The first case was diagnosed in Arusha (the location of our office) on March 16th. There are currently 14 confirmed cases, with one testing facility in Dar es Salaam with others opening soon. Schools closed on March 18th. Parliament, markets, churches, mosques remain open. People have been asked to observe social distancing and work from home. Current guidance and messaging is thus conflicting and confusing.
Ace Africa Tanzania has held meetings with the government, at the district and regional level. We have been asked to support and coordinate local responses to the emergency. This could include: providing health information for communities and health facilities, providing education and information to local leaders on prevention, training volunteers, providing soap and washing facilities at local health centres and food/hygiene packages for vulnerable people
The plan is to start any work agreed by the government using existing minimal resources, and to urgently raise additional funds to roll out any agreed projects.
The first case in Kenya was diagnosed on March 13th. There are currently 42 confirmed cases. Schools were closed two days later. Further public health and financial support measures have been steadily introduced including: a curfew, substantial restrictions on travel, tax relief for low paid workers and pay cuts taken by the President and senior officials. Markets and public gatherings are suspended. (This Wikipedia page details events in Kenya in a chronological order).
Ace Africa Kenya is observing current government guidance and regulations. One to one services are on-going, but only for emergency cases like people needing counselling services and anti-retroviral therapy. We are delivering seeds and other key commodities.
• There are fears that economic growth on the continent will plummet, African Finance Ministers have called for debt interest payments to be stopped and for USD100billion of aid.
• The BBC are tracking the number of cases in all African countries
• The longer term consequences include ‘the potential loss of health care providers and schooling would also weigh on the continent’s health and education sectors for years to come’ according to this article from Bloomberg.