OPINION: How will communities without a safety net navigate these times?


OPINION: How will communities without a safety net navigate these times?

The spread of the coronavirus is the most serious global health security threat in decades.

With restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the COVID-19 disease, how will communities without a safety net navigate these times?

Joyce Omondi, 42, hotel owner

With a business that has eight workers, serving 600 people in a day, she says her customers have reduced to 150. Her income has plummeted from Ksh.15,000 to Ksh.3,000. “We hope this ends quickly and that GOK people know what they are doing in handling this crisis.”

Josphat Musyoka, 54, Boda Boda rider

As it so happens, riders are refusing to share helmets, Musyoka says this has introduced a new extortion scheme by police. They demand Ksh.500 per ride.

“Customers want their own helmets and to be assured that we have fumigated them.”

Christopher Otieno Juma, 50, Carpenter

Before news of the Virus, I used to make 150k a month. We have the capacity to make 10 beds a week. At the moment, we only have 3 beds on order, after this, we have no new orders.

Mary Anyango, 29, Beautician

Since last week I have got no phone calls from my regular customers. I have tried to call them to find out especially those who I normally work for but they have gone cold.

Philemon Okello, 48, Tailor

Usually, I would be at my customers’ offices in the morning doing fittings and receiving orders, our business relationship has been like this for years. I don’t know how to access my customers now that they are working from home.

Elizabeth Wanjiku, 41, Mama Mboga

Stocks are reducing in some items like cabbages, tomatoes, and fruits. Suppliers are telling us that the routes have been affected because some of these things come out of the country.

Michael Owino- 47, Cobbler

On a good day, I can make between Ksh.500 to Ksh.700 per day. My income today is Ksh.240, truth is it’s not going to keep me afloat for a long time.

Irene Otieno, 35, Omena trader

I sell omena for Ksh. 30 there’s no way my customers are switching the mode of payment to M-Pesa so ill take the money and hope for the best. I have children to feed.

Winfred Kalori, 40, Hotel Owner

My profits have plummeted to 500 per day from 3,000 shillings. If this continues I may have to let go, my two employees, since I don’t see how to keep this going for long.

Photos by Kizito Gamba

James Smart is a free lance journalist, a Reagan-Fascell fellow and a Chevening scholar

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