Youth-led COVID 19 Food Drive Response in Informal Settlements in Kenya
By Charlie Chilufya SJ
Carine Umutoniwase is a team leader of Footprints for Change and a Youth Champion in the Jesuit Conference of Africa and Madagascar (JCAM)-led LEAD+ Magis Youth Network. She is reaching out to other young people in Mathare, in youth groups and community networks, to join her in responding to the Coronavirus.
Carine meets with the young people on a weekly basis and together with community health workers to map out families in need for their weekly food drive. The first COVID-19 case in Kenya was reported on March 13th and to date, there are 270 confirmed cases, 14 reported death, and 67 recovered victims.
The restrictions and measures taken by the government have adversely affected the communities living in informal settlements in Kenya. This is more keenly felt in Nairobi County, the nation’s capital, which has most of the Coronavirus cases. Informal settlements in Nairobi are characterized by congestion and poor infrastructure. Families in poor neighborhoods like Mathare lack proper drainage and sewer systems, fresh piped water as well as the standard 3 meals a day. These conditions persisted before COVID 19 and have further been exacerbated.
Footprints for Change, a youth-led organization, partnered up with 4 other youth-serving organizations to feed 100 families on a weekly basis in Mathare. Together these young people have for the last 3 weeks mobilized resources to feed 350 families in Mathare slums. The youth in Mathare have come up with a door to door system and a voucher system to safely distribute food to the most vulnerable in the informal settlements while observing the government measures to avoid spreading the virus. Carine and other young people in Mathare and Korogocho slums provide flour, cooking oil, beans, and sugar as a weekly food package to the neediest in informal settlements. As global citizens, we need to show global solidarity in the fight against COVID 19. We need to support the most vulnerable and those in poor neighbourhoods who cannot afford the preventive measures put in place.
Source: Jesuit Missions