Youth lead the way in preventing COVID-19 spread in Kenya’s informal settlements

Nairobi, 12 May 2020 – Young people in Kenya’s informal settlements, cities and towns are the driving force behind preventative measures in the community.

Over 175,000 handwashes have taken place at the youth-led handwashing stations supported by UN-Habitat in Kibera and Mathare settlements in Nairobi.

“The community is extremely supportive of the stations,” states Joyce Wambui, from Tasha Clan Youth Group, a host of one of the stations, “The community feels that through the youth they are empowered to take on the corona virus.”

In addition to handwashing, the staff at the handwashing facilities provide information and education services to the community on COVID-19 prevention. A newly introduced service is the checking of temperature in Mathare and Kibera. Some 500 people have had their temperature checked each day.

“When I go on my rounds to each station I do temperature checks along the way and at the handwashing stations,” said Isaac Muasa, Coordinator, Mathare Environmental One Stop which runs some of the facilities. “If someone has a high temperature we refer them to a clinic. This service is very popular with the parents as they want to know if their children are well or not.”

Twenty-two youth-led organizations, supported by UN-Habitat, the Canadian and Norwegian Governments, the private sector and local and the national government, have established 28 hand washing stations in Mathare and Kibera with another 25 planned around Nairobi. UN-Habitat plans to install 40 hand washing stations in 18 informal settlements across the counties of Kilifi, Kisumu, Nakuru, Nyeri and Mandera and youth groups have been trained to manage them.

UN-Habitat’s work supports that of the African Union’s Youth Envoy, Aya Chebbi, who has called for African youth to play a central role in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and the reform of service delivery.

“We can only create a better peaceful, integrated and prosperous continent, when African youth become the custodians of their own development,” said Ms Chebbi.