- Government restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 continued to impact people's access to informal employment and food.
- The Ministry of Health has issued new COVID-19 guidelines for home and community-based isolation, aimed at easing demand and pressure on the limited health facilities.
- Lack of sufficient personal protective equipment and delays in lab results, particularly in Busia and Mombasa counties, are key challenges to the COVID-19 response.
- A second generation of immature swarms of desert locusts have started to form in north-west Kenya, threating crops and pastures in Turkana and Marsabit counties.
- Funding from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) will enable agencies to reach nearly 175,000 people affected by floods in 13 counties.
The COVID-19 pandemic---which is occurring against a backdrop of increased humanitarian needs due to back-to-back drought, floods and a desert locust upsurge---is already exacerbating vulnerabilities across Kenya, particularly for the urban poor.
Kenya reported its first case of COVID-19 on 12 March 2020 and, as of 15 June, 3,727 cases had been confirmed and 104 deaths reported. Out of the country's 47 counties, 39 have reported COVID-19 cases. About 85 per cent of the confirmed cases are local transmissions. Over 118,000 tests have been conducted so far. Mombasa and Nairobi Counties have the highest attack rates of COVID-19 at at 90.9 and 38.5 per 100,000 populations respectively when compared to 7.8 per 100,000 for the whole country and need enhanced interventions. Risk communication, laboratory testing, and contact tracing have been identified as key challenge. Availability of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) at the sub--national level, laboratory testing reagents, delays in relaying lab results, particularly in Busia and Mombasa Counties, are some of the key challenges for the COVID-19 response.
There are 10 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the refugee camps in Kenya, eight in Dadaab and two in Kakuma. The cases among refugees are reportedly all asymptomatic and have been moved to isolation facilities for monitoring and psychosocial support.
Following reported concerns by health authorities regarding the increased demand on health facilities across the country, the Government has issued new guidelines for home and community-based isolation in a bid to ease the pressure. Implementation will start in Nairobi and Mombasa counties. Preliminary findings from a survey conducted by Community Health Volunteers on the effectiveness of home/community isolation established that at least 70 per cent of community members prefer community (near home) isolation if they are asymptomatic. The survey highlights lack of extra room/space, use of shared sanitary facilities, sharing of beds, lack of water, and lack of PPE (gloves, masks, disinfectants) as key concerns for home isolation.
Apart from responding to COVID-19, County Health Departments and public health teams continue to implement interventions to contain other disease outbreaks across the country. According to the Ministry of Health, the cholera outbreaks in Garissa, Murang'a, Turkana and Wajir are under control, with at least 633 cases and 13 deaths reported from 1 January to 10 June 2020. However, active transmission continue to be reported in Marsabit County, with at least five cases registered in North Horr Sub-County last week. Cholera treatment centers have been operationalized to support timely treatment of cases and minimize further spread of the disease. A measles outbreak remains active in Kilifi, Garissa, Tana River and West Pokot counties, with a cumulative 281 cases since October 2019. Contact tracing and case search, stocking of adequate doses of measles and rubella vaccines and vitamin A in the health facilities of affected areas, and community sensitization on the disease are ongoing.
Food insecurity continues to impact affected communities with restrictions around the COVID-19 prevention making communities even more vulnerable. According to the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analysis prior to COVID-19, about 980,000 people are facing severe food insecurity (IPC Phase 3 or above), with 112,500 people in the counties of Kwale, Turkana and Marsabit estimated to be in Emergency (IPC Phase 4). And according to the Kenya Food Security Steering Group (KFSSG), there could be an estimated 3 to 3.5 million food insecure people in Kenya as the needs peak in June and July. A second generation of immature swarms of desert locusts started to form in north-west Kenya on 9--11 June. Swarm formation will continue for about four weeks while the bulk of the swarms will form during the second half of June, according to FAO. Prior to migration, swarms will remain for a short time during which there is a considerable threat to crops and pastures in Turkana and Marsabit counties. From about 15 June, an increasing number of swarms are expected to migrate northwards with the prevailing winds to Ethiopia and Sudan. Locust invasion surveillance is ongoing by the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives with support from partners. Plans are underway for an updated food security assessment by the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) in May 2020, which will be critical in determining the extent and locations of impact.
Approved funding from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) will enable agencies to reach more than 175,000 people in 13 counties most affected by flooding (Kisumu, Tana River, Busia, Mandera, Isiolo, Wajir, Garissa, Kilifi, Migori, Siaya, Turkana, Kakamega and Taita Taveta) between March and May. Special attention will be given to the needs of the elderly, people with disabilities, children, and pregnant and lactating women during distribution of essential items, as well as when undertaking disease surveillance and treatment interventions.
Humanitarian access is Kenya is affected by movement restrictions, as well as health regulations, imposed by the Government to contain the spread of COVID-19. Currently, Nairobi, Mombasa, Killifi and Mandera counties are under lockdown. The Government of Kenya has also established an official lockdown of Dadaab and Kakuma camps since 29 April. Humanitarian access in/out of the refugee camps is controlled by the Government and UNHCR to protect the vulnerable population from infection.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.