THE FACE OF MATHARE AND KOROGOCHO IN TIMES OF COVID-19
Korogocho is said to be the fourth largest slum neighborhoods of Nairobi, Kenya where settlement began in the 1970s by quarry workers. On the other hand, Mathare is a collection of slums in Nairobi, Kenya and it is the second largest slum in Kenya after Kibera. In both Mathare and Korogocho, where almost every other person has no permanent form of employment, Covid-19 pandemic has had a lot of negative impact on the people. In attempt to establish some of the effects of Covid-19 in regard to livelihood, health and security on the residents of Korogocho and Mathare, Ghetto Foundation has been conducting a Community led research on the same since November 2020.
The way people live has extremely been affected and especially when it comes to securing the necessities of life. A lot of people lost their sources of income, either through job suspensions or dismissals, collapse of businesses among others, and some had to think of alternative side hustles just to make ends meet.However, some young people have benefitted from KaziMtaani Initiative which started in April, 2020 as an economic stimulus offering youths in informal settlements casual jobs amid the Covid-19 pandemic. It should be noted that not every youth has benefitted from this initiative. Moreover, despite the fact that those under the initiative are currently earning some pennies from it as they are paid ksh.5000 per every two weeks, the worry of every other person is what will happen once the initiative is over. It lacks sustainability in that there are no skills that those in the initiative are learning that can even help them in the job market. How will you convince an employer that you are fit for a certain job just because at some point you were in a government’s program that involved garbage collection, sweeping, cleaning drainages and so on?
Children Using hand-washing station in Mathare (Image)
In regard to security in both Korogocho and Mathare, some residents feel that it has slightly improved and especially with the nationwide curfew that runs between 10:00 p.m and 04:00 a.m daily as one of the Covid-19 restrictions. However, there are those who feel that security has deteriorated as a result of joblessness and frustration especially amongst young people, some of whom may have not benefited from KaziMtaani. Petty crimes such as mugging are being witnessed. For those who have no source of income or have not received any form of empowerment, some may end up into crime as a means of earning something to put on their stomach. However, it not justified to commit a crime as a means of earning an income but it is the sad reality in the informal settlements. The general feeling towards police patrols in both Korogocho and Mathare is that a lot of police officers only comes on the ground to collect “their daily or once in a while entitlement” (bribes), after which they leave.
In conclusion, there is need for all the actors(the residents, government and different organizations) in both Korogocho and Mathare to play their part accordingly for the greater good of these areas. The government and other organizations should come up with sustainable projects that empowers the people. The police should execute their duty of offering safety faithfully and wholesomely. The residents should also be innovative enough and come up with alternative ways to earn a living especially for those who lost their jobs. Everyone should also commit to uphold security since it begins right at an individual level.
Esther Waigumo Njoki,