Third Eye

The poor still need help from State

Monday, October 19th, 2020 00:00 |
President Uhuru Kenyatta addresses the nation. Photo/PSCU

There is no doubt the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted lives in a manner never experienced before.

People have lost lives, thousands have been infected, businesses closed and jobs lost.  

Family routines and socials relations have been altered dramatically as Kenyans respond to the safety guidelines meant to prevent the virus from spreading.

There have also been disturbing reports of individuals exploiting the pandemic to mint millions of shillings through dubious tendering of medical supplies in the Covid-19 fight. 

But there have been heartwarming stories of frontline workers staking lives to save patients while the pandemic has brought out the generosity of some Kenyans who have contributed cash and supported efforts to stem the pandemic.

Besides the elderly, the urban poor, especially in big cities such as Nairobi and Mombasa, which become the epicentre of the virus, were some of the worst affected.

Many lost sources of livelihood as the State imposed a nationwide curfew while thousands were rendered jobless after businesses in which they worked closed shop. 

This prompted the government to set up a kitty to cushion the elderly and youths. However, there is concern most of the targeted beneficiaries are yet to get aid.

Indeed, a survey by research firm Tifa, reveals that majority of households have been seriously affected for the past seven months.

Stories of job losses, reduced remittances, higher commodity prices, heightened insecurity, disruption of healthcare services and education are all too common.

According to the study, while the pandemic has affected most households across the country, it appears to have had more profound and longer-lasting effects among the urban poor.

Many young people said they had found it difficult to make ends meet due to restrictions initially placed on movement in and out of Nairobi, the night-time curfew and crowd-limitation. 

In fact, 80 per cent of respondents said lives have become “much worse” since the arrival of the virus.

As the President has consistently stressed, the country is still at war. Information from the Health ministry shows cases continue to surge even as Kenyans settle with the “new normal” and the governments eases some restrictions to open the economy. 

There is every indication it will take long for normalcy to resume.

This means the government and communities must continue to bear the burden of needy cases such as residents of slums and low-income earners.

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