COVID-19: LWF steps up prevention in Kenya refugee camp

From left to right, 9-year-old Freedom Gai, 7-year-old Nyalat Pouch and 5-year-old Nyabena Gai show how proper hand washing with soap can prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. All Photos: LWF/P. Kwamboka

Efforts focus on sharing information and training in handwashing and hygiene to stop spread of virus 

(LWI) - As the number of cases of Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues to rise in Kenya, Lutheran World Federation (LWF) staff in the densely populated Kakuma refugee camp are stepping up efforts to protect vulnerable men, women and children. Despite a shortage of running water, families and small businesses are being encouraged to put in place simple, life-saving practices to stop the spread of the disease.

9-year-old Sado shows how to wash hands before touching the goods on sale in her mother’s kiosk, one of many small businesses in Kakuma camp.

Located in the north-east of the country, the camp was established by UNHCR to provide a home for former child soldiers from Sudan’s civil war, but it subsequently became a safe haven for people fleeing from other conflicts in Somalia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea and South Sudan as well. 

Nyaparpuotis, a teenage mother living in Kakuma refugee camp

Since the camp was set up in 1992, LWF has been the lead implementing partner for UNHCR, focusing on education, child protection and sustainable livelihoods programs. Together with the neighboring Kalobeyei integrated settlement, in February this year, the camp was assisting over 194.000 registered refugees and asylum seekers. 

Musa Bushiri, one of the refugee staff who works as a security guard looking after the LWF-run primary schools in Kakuma camp

Many of the 8.000 LWF staff and volunteers are now working on the front line in hard-to-reach areas which are poorly equipped to deal with a potential spread of the COVID-19 virus. Most people there have very limited access to medical aid, clean water or accurate information about prevention and precautions to help stop the spread of infections.

A mother, Nyadak, helps her son, Teth loach, and daughter, Nyabo, to wash their hands in Kakuma refugee camp

As the Kenyan government moves to contain the spread of the virus, all schools have been closed, including the 21 primary schools managed by the LWF. 13-year-old Nyakume is one of the 55,000 pupils who have been sent home.

13-year-old Nyakume is one of the 55.000 pupils in Kakuma refugee camp who are no longer able to attend lessons after the Kenyan government closed schools to prevent the spread of the virus.

To help dispel myths and false information about COVID-19, LWF workers are now targeting families living in villages and communities, including in the most remote areas, to share accurate news and information, plus basic equipment to help prevent the spread of the disease.

8-year-old Emanuel helps his brother to wash his hands with clean water in Kakuma refugee camp

Supported by LWF World Service, staff in the camp are appealing for funds to continue providing clean water, soap, hand sanitizer and protective clothing. With these simple items, teams of volunteers can be better equipped to provide vital awareness raising and training in handwashing, hygiene and sanitation procedures to thousands of vulnerable families. 

9-year-old Freedom washes the hands of her younger sister, Nyabana, in Kakuma refugee camp

All funds received for the Kakuma camp appeal will only be used for COVID-19 prevention and response programs.