Since its first detection on 13th March, the COVID-19 cases have grown considerably in Kenya, now reaching close to 30,000 cases and 467 deaths as of 14th August.
The spread is still moderately growing considering that the total global cases have now reached about 8 million with more than 825,000 deaths. Despite the various measures in place, the projection of current trends indicates that the Virus is likely to spread further and likely to have a significant impact on the economy, and to livelihoods, food security, and nutrition of the populations.
World Food Programme estimates that a total of 20 million people are food insecure in the region and this is likely to increase to between 37 to 45 million during the next three months due to COVID-19 and its consequences. This trend cuts across all sectors and most programs are now in a big problem of how to overcome the unforeseen global crisis
The socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 epidemic operates through two distinct channels. First are the direct and indirect effects of the sickness, which results from when an income-earner in the household falls ill, the ratio of active members to dependents falls.
The effects may be compounded by lost earnings and taking care of the ill family member, or funeral costs upon death. Ill-health and limited resilience capacities can create multiplier effects. These effects transcend from low productivity to actual impact to most programs by loos of momentum in all planned activities and reduced programmatic resources and most likely closure of programs.
The Second channels are aversion behavior effects resulting from the fear of catching the virus, which in turn leads to a fear of association with others and reduces labor force participation, closes places of employment, disrupts transportation, motivates some governments to close borders and restrict the entry of citizens from afflicted countries, and motivates private decision-makers to disrupt trade, travel, and commerce by canceling scheduled commercial flights and reducing shipping and cargo services. These two channels are already being experienced in the eastern region and beyond and most programs are either on hold or shut down till further in the future.
NGOs, private sector, County governments require a “turn-around strategy” to ensure that all planned activities programs and socio-economic development are still achieved as we navigate the COVID 19 turbulence. The turnround strategy should focus on learning, re-planning, rescheduling, and adopting a new normal. Programs should not stop but can be handled through a careful balance of available resources and fighting the COVID 19 crisis.