Nairobi, 26 November 2020 –  As Kenya’s schools prepare to reopen fully for the first time since March,  UN-Habitat and the Chandaria Foundation began distributing hand washing facilities for schools in Kibera informal settlement aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19.

A team of well-trained youth will educate the school pupils and management on proper handwashing using the facilities and other COVID-19 prevention and response measures.

“Slum schools are disadvantaged in terms of water and sanitation facilities, we are here together with UN-Habitat to support these vulnerable group to cope with the challenges further complicated by COVID-19,” stated Vincent Rapando from the Chandaria Foundation.

Kenya’s schools were closed in March at the start of the COVID outbreak in the country and pupils from only a few grades have been allowed to return. The full reopening will take place in January and there are fears that without proper prevention measures, particularly in overcrowded informal settlements, this could lead to further cases.

“We are front line workers in the schools and the majority of the children we work with are from poor and disadvantaged backgrounds,” said Celine Nasimiyu, a teacher from Joy Academy in Kibera speaking on behalf of teachers. “This coupled with inadequate water and sanitation facilities further complicates our work especially during this pandemic, we thank UN-Habitat for remembering us and this will truly support us.”

Alfred Ayoro of Kibra Greens from the Youth-led COVID-19 Emergency Response Coalition of 34 youth-led groups said there was a need to revamp the prevention measures in the schools before the schools fully reopened.

In the initial stage, some 20 schools will receive the handwashing facilities which include 100 litre water tanks. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, UN-Habitat has set up several handwashing facilities in the informal settlements with youth-led organizations.

“The involvement of our youth in combating COVID-19 and operating the hand washing stations which have been operating for seven days a week for months now has been one of the major reasons why we have not been hard-hit with this pandemic,” said Assistant Chief Catherine Waweru, Woodley sub-location.

“We are very happy that we will continue to support the young people in running these critical stations, said Isaac Mwasa, Co-ordinator of the Mathare Environmental One Stop Centre. “In addition to handwashing, we will be distributing masks, creating murals to communicate to the general public about COVID-19 prevention, and providing support to women and children who are facing many challenges such as increased violence and inability to access education.”

The launch was featured on local television stations

UN-Habitat launches distribution of handwashing facilities to schools in Nairobi’s informal settlement