By Sofia Ali
ActionAid International Kenya in conjunction with Unilever has today flagged off a consignment of 189 thousand units of Geisha soap.
The consignment is part of the unilever’s goods in-kind contributions aimed at minimizing the spread of COVID-19 through improved understanding and personal environmental hygiene of 6 million people, with a focus on women, girls and marginalized people.
ActionAid International Kenya Executive director Susan Otieno, said that as countries around the world come to terms with the new reality of living with COVID-19, millions of women and girls in the global south are waking up to an uncertain and dangerous future. “The pandemic has disrupted billions of lives globally including Kenya – many of which are already dealing with other humanitarian emergencies. In Kenya, the COVID-19 pandemic is occurring against a backdrop of increasing humanitarian needs due to back-to-back drought, floods and a locust upsurge exacerbating existing vulnerabilities across the country, particularly for women and girls, urban poor, migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. From our analysis, this pandemic is already causing heavy financial losses, slowdown of local economies, food and nutrition insecurity at household levels due to job losses and reduced incomes. The key prevention component is sharing accurate and reliable information and adequate preparedness on the part of county governments’ health systems.” Said Otieno.
Otieno reiterated that the pandemic is increasing the burden of unpaid care work on the part of women and girls. Women perform caregiving roles, within the informal sector, health and social sector, and thus being at a higher risk of exposure to illnesses. They will increasingly support the sick, the elderly, People with Disabilities (PWDs) and other vulnerable groups as the disease prevalence increase. “ActionAid Kenya COVID-19 response seeks to support the well-being and reduction of life-threatening impacts to communities affected by COVID-19 within ActionAid Kenya local rights programmes reaching 6,000,000 people directly” she added.
Lucy Ojiambo-Tsimbiko, National Coordinator Policy Governance and Youth Empowerment said that ActionAid Kenya, Unilever and DFID project are dispatching a consignment of 189,000 units of Geisha soap and surface cleaning products destined for 7 counties of Nairobi, Mombasa, Kilifi, Embu, Isiolo, Kakamega and Migori. “These hygiene units will go a long way in cushioning the targeted communities from the risk of contracting COVID-19. At the counties, these materials will be distributed by our field staff stationed in those counties alongside our women network partners with nyumba kumi initiative and the county governments.” Said Ojiambo
Ojiambo said the project will be implemented in one year within the mentioned counties with a budget of £501,000, translating to Ksh. 65,000,000 respectively, and is aimed at supporting interventions which reinforce behavior change through risk communication by use of both digital and non-digital platforms, enhance access/ availability of public services essential for the prevention of COVID-19 which includes rehabilitation of WASH facilities, provision of soap and hand washing facilities at public spaces such as markets to promote both personal and environmental health.
She further called on the members of the public to practice precaution during this trying moments “We stand in solidarity with all members of the public and we add our voice calling for all to exercise caution, remain vigilant, observant and take urgent and necessary action as may be warranted by the situation.” Said Ojiambo.
The organization says the project further aims to strengthen protection of women and girls from gender-based violence (GBV), improve coordination and accountability of state and other stakeholders in the provision of quality basic services to populations at risk, strengthen collaboration with community structures and state institutions in the dissemination of COVID-19 messaging and community updates. Additionally, it focuses on facilitating existing community structures consisting of local government and CSOs to provide information that reduces stigma, increase tolerance and support COVID-19 affected community members.