Coronavirus pandemic continues to wreak havoc across the world! By early May 2020, over 3.5 million people infected across the globe over a two hundred thousand people have succumbed to the same.
On Friday 13th March 2020, the first Coronavirus case was recorded in Kenya, and since then, over 400 people have been infected, and the country reporting Covid-19 related 24 fatalities and 167 recoveries. The government of Kenya has been working tirelessly to ensure the virus does not spread further by providing a number of directives to safeguard its citizens from the deadly Coronavirus.
The Ogiek, a hunter-gatherer indigenous community, living around the Mau forest, may not have a mechanism to cope with the pandemic and are likely to be severely affected due to the remote nature of existence. The community has limited access to government information (which is relayed mostly via radios and television, which most don’t have), and poor access to government health facilities.
Additionally, a significant percentage of Ogiek community members live below the poverty line and thus struggling to get necessities such, sanitizers, soaps, and facemask. Providing food for their families is also a challenge to the community due to this tough economic time caused by the coronavirus pandemic. If the virus reaches the community, it will easily spread aided the mentioned challenges above. This, therefore, can be a great disaster to such a minority community, making less than one percent of the total population as per the Kenya Population and Housing Census(KPHC) 2019.
A significant number of Ogiek community members are increasingly becoming aware of the presence of COVID-19 in the Country. However, the knowledge of the spread of virus/disease is still very low. Local and national radio stations and social media platforms are playing significant roles by relaying relevant information on Coronavirus.
With no case of infection reported among the Ogiek, community leaders are also at the forefront supporting government efforts to curb the spread of the disease, ensuring that the community understands the seriousness of the disease and are observing social distancing and wearing of face masks.
The county government of Nakuru is also at the forefront in fighting this pandemic, having donated tanks, soap, sanitizers and face masks and foodstuffs to the local communities and the vulnerable members of the community comprising of elderly, and families in informal settlements. However, it has not reached members of the Ogiek community.
Given the continued rise of Covid-19 cases and currently involving local transmission, there is the need to create more awareness at the community level as well as supporting the most vulnerable with foodstuffs and necessities to cushion them during the Covid-19 pandemic period.
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