COVID-19. THE SITUATION IN KENYA AND TANZANIA. 5th August
Ace Africa Tanzania
Tanzania has declared itself COVID-free, with businesses and schools reopening across the country. Schools have been encouraged to follow new guidance, including wearing masks, social distancing and being alert to Coronavirus symptoms. The last figures reported on 8 May, showed 509 cases confirmed cases and 21 deaths. However, there has not been routine testing or reporting since this date. In Arusha Region, where Ace Africa works, health officials still report COVID-19 as a challenge in managing patients and prioritising local resources. Marginalised and vulnerable communities are most likely to be affected, as adherence to social distancing and hygiene measures weakens.
Information & communication – Ace Africa has completed training for 240 community community leaders in COVID-19 awareness and prevention. In total, 4,197 communication materials (posters, leaflets and booklets) have been distributed to 12 wards in Arusha District reaching 30,870 people. Six educational films on handwashing and hygiene have been disseminated to national, regional and local partners, government representatives, community leaders and volunteers.
Handwashing – Ace has exceeded its target, installing 769 easy to use handwashing facilities (‘Leaky tins’) in 12 wards, including 25 leaky tins for community leaders to use to educate the local community. A group of 15 young people have also been trained in soap making to support local hygiene efforts.
Emergency support packages – In total, Ace has provided emergency support packages containing food and essential items such as soap and cooking oil, and counselling support to 638 households. These 638 vulnerable households are made up of 3,036 adults and children.
Ace Africa Kenya
Kenya has reported 23,202 Coronavirus cases and 369 deaths, and cases have been increasing every week. The outbreak has now spread beyond the hotspots of Nairobi and Mombasa, with cases reported in 42/47 counties. There have been growing numbers of cases in Migori, close to the Tanzanian border, and other border points. On 6 July, President Kenyatta announced lifting of some regional travel restrictions but kept the curfew in place for another 30 days. It was also later confirmed that schools, colleges and universities would not reopen until January 2021.
Information & communication –16,177 adolescent girls and young women have received education on COVID-19 prevention and hygiene through sessions at Safe Spaces in Kisumu, Migori and Homa Bay. We have also partnered with the Ministry of Health in Bungoma County to provide health education to 317 vulnerable groups in hotspots, including 42 boda boda (motorbike taxi) drivers, 100 Vegetable sellers (mama mbogas) and 10 truckers along the highway to Uganda.
Handwashing – 233 women and girls in Kisumu, Migori, Siaya and Homa Bay have helped to make leaky tins at home, so far 560 HHs have been supported to make and install leaky tins in HHs. A further 850 women have been trained to make and sell masks and soap. Health messaging and masks have also been provided to 260 female sex workers, as part of Ace’s project to improve their health and reduce the risk of HIV.
Emergency support packages – Ace has partnered with the Siaya County Commissioner’s Office to distribute face masks and sanitiser to 430 households, and support 520 households with food packages. 260 women and girls at Safe Spaces, have taken the initiative to support elderly members of their community.
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COVID-19. THE SITUATION IN KENYA AND TANZANIA. 19th June
The first case of COVID 19 was reported in Tanzania March 16th in Arusha. Schools were closed on March 18th. Social distancing has not been common due to a lack of awareness. Markets remained open. It is impossible for most to work from home as they rely on day to day trade to feed their families . There is no state welfare system to replace lost income. People living with HIV/AIDS (PLWA) and their children do not want to leave home given the potential impact of the virus. They often lack basic food, medication and household items. They have little or no information on how to stay safe. There are 1.6 million Tanzanians living with HIV/AIDS. The current number of cases is unknown; the government has not issued statistics since April 29th (509 confirmed cases). Opposition parties have suggested the actual number of infections in the country are much higher. Compared to most African countries, the response of the government has been seen as modest. Secondary schools final year classes have started, universities are open and the tourists are again welcomed. Elections are due in October.
In Kenya, the first case was diagnosed on March 13th. (There are 3457 confirmed cases as of 15.06.20). Schools were closed two days later. Further public health and financial support measures were steadily introduced including: a curfew, face masks (with associated fines), substantial restrictions on travel, tax relief for low paid workers and pay cuts taken by the President and senior officials. Markets and public gatherings were suspended. 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. Despite a recent spike in cases , on June 17th the government will review guidelines to reopen the economy.
On the African continent as a whole in mid June the number of cases in Africa passed 200,000. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has suggested the disease is taking ‘a different pathway’, in part due to the age of the population. However, WHO also notes that the pandemic remains a major threat to health systems and that a low number of cases requiring medical treatment will overwhelm capacity. On June 11th WHO warned the disease is ‘accelerating across the continent’. Regardless of the number of cases, the economic impact of COVID-19 will be catastrophic, leading to warnings of ‘hunger’ and ‘poverty’ pandemics.
Ace Africa emergency response
Ace Africa Tanzania continues to deliver COVID-19 rapid response activities in Arusha to educate and inform communities on COVID-19, increase access to handwashing and to support the most vulnerable households with support packages. Ace has now distributed over 4,000 leaflets and posters, 6 educational films, established 25 community hand washing stations, trained 240 community leaders, and supported 95 families with essential food packages.
Ace Africa Kenya has been active in supporting COVID-19 prevention, training and essential support for Community Health Workers and vulnerable groups. Ace has integrated COVID-19 messaging into all ongoing training and outreach, reaching 2,000 women and girls in Migori, Kisumu and Homa Bay. Ace Africa has also supported young women’s groups to produce face masks and ‘leaky tins’ for their community, so far 36 handwashing stations have been established in Homa Bay.
The Coronavirus pandemic charts an unpredictable and varied path across the African continent. Many governments are now looking to lift restrictions to limit the economic impact and are faced with deepening social inequalities. Despite this there are still reports on the challenge of COVID-19 in Tanzania, and the number of cases in Kenya is still rapidly increasing.
Ace Africa Tanzania
Information & communication – six films have been produced on Coronavirus prevention, handwashing and how to make a leaky tin which will now be disseminated amongst local partners, government representatives and community leaders. Over 4,000 government approved leaflets and posters on ‘do’s and don’ts’, leaky tins and handwashing have been distributed across Arusha, with more to be installed in the coming weeks.
Handwashing – Ace has installed and demonstrated leaky tins (25 in total) in each of their 12 target wards and trained 240 community leaders across this area on Covid-19 prevention and how to make leaky tins. In the weeks, Ace will install up to 600 leaky tins in local villages and train 480 community volunteers.
Emergency support packages – A total 95 households of people living with HIV have been supported with essential food and supply packages since the project began. Ace aims to support 1,200 vulnerable households in total.
Ace Africa Kenya
Information & communication – Covid-19 awareness and prevention messages have been integrated into Ace Kenya’s existing programmes across Western Kenya. Ministry of Health approved posters and leaflets have been distributed to 1,500 households of adolescent girls and young women, in Kisumu, Migori and Homa Bay, where 2,000 young women have also received training. 20 Community Volunteers in Kisumu have also been trained on Covid-19 prevention.
Handwashing – As part of Ace’s project to empower girls and young women in Migori, Kisumu and Homa Bay, 692 girls have been trained to make and sell face masks, 83 young women in Migori have set up a soap business and 2 young volunteers have established leaky tins in 36 households in Lambwe ward, Homa Bay.
Emergency support packages – Ace has partnered with local NGOs and government officials to provide food packages to 86 vulnerable households in Homa Bay. In Bungoma, Ace has also supported a local NGO supporting 10 vulnerable men who have sex with men, to receive food packages.
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COVID-19. THE SITUATION IN KENYA AND TANZANIA. 16th 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.