Community members consisting of men women and children using various handwashing stations in Mathare, Mlango Kubwa on 14th April 2020.
The Mathare Environmental Conservation Youth Group (MECYG) established in 1997 and has been working with the Government of Norway since 2012. The Mathare Environmental Conservation Youth Group with support from the Government of Norway provides a safe and generative space for young men and women of the community. The centre features an innovate Kenya which trains young men and women
To support the fight against COVID-19 which continues to ravage the globe, on Tuesday, April 14, 2020, the Independent Medico-Legal Unit (IMLU) supported the youth in Mathare to by providing them with handwashing points and handing washing gel to ensure residents to continue washing their hands and enhance hygiene in the fight against COVID-19.
Through the support of the Norwegian Embassy, we teamed up with Mathare Environmental Conservation Youth Group, to set up 10 handwashing stations, in Mlango Kubwa, one of the local villages in the slum with a total population of 75,000 residents. This was informed from the fact that most of our clients come from informal settlements and the handwashing points will ensure they observe the guidelines as we serve them.
“Our objective is to complement the government’s efforts in fighting the coronavirus,” said IMLU’s executive director Peter Kiama.
With the confirmation of the first case of COVID-19 in Kenya in mid-March 2020, following in the footsteps of the majority of countries across the globe facing the pandemic and the recommendations of World Health Organization (WHO), the Government urged the population to adhere to the organization’s directives on handwashing, hygiene and physical distancing. Yet it is difficult to implement these prevention measures in informal settlements where there is limited access to water and no sanitation.
The 10 washing points are stationed at Mathare one shopping centre, Karambee self-help group, Beaver’s Youth Group, Mlango Kubwa Main Entrance, Bishara Street Corner, Kiamutisya Junction, Pequininos Junction, Espana Junction, Asembo and the PCEA Area.
Each of these stations operates between 8-5 pm daily and serve approximately 300 residents daily, totalling to an average of about 4,500 people daily.
Isaack Mwasa the founder of Mathare Environmental Conservation Youth Group said that the handwashing stations have benefitted the residents of Mathare and ensured they wash their hands regularly.
“We thank IMLU for the handwashing points, we can now wash our hands and maintain hygiene,” said Charles Macharia a resident if Mlango Kubwa.
A minority of the households in Mathare have access to the public water supply, which is less costly. In informal settlements, water supply has been privatized and many residents rely on private water vendors.