KENYA: LOCKDOWN SUFFERING AND CHAOS
“Women and children fell to the ground, bloodied and trampled in a desperate surge for food being handed out in a Nairobi slum, as police fired teargas and men with sticks beat the hungry.”
As African countries grapple with the coronavirus pandemic, observers warn that the traumatic scenes which played out last Friday will not be the last if governments fail to help millions of urban poor who live hand-to-mouth.
“I give them (the government) one to two weeks before things get worse. Not in terms of coronavirus, but in terms of hunger,” said Kennedy Odede, who runs Shining Hope For Communities (SHOFCO), a grassroots movement which works in the Nairobi slum Kibera and other informal settlements in Kenya.
“If it continues like this, we might be playing with fire.”
“The inevitable reaction has been to follow what the rest of the world is doing,” said Jakkie Cilliers at the Pretoria-based Institute for Security Studies (ISS), who has called for Africans to come up with a “unique solution” to stave off the virus.
“A lockdown is unenforceable and unsustainable across much of Africa. You are trying to do something that is not possible and you are condemning people to a choice between starving and getting sick.
“It’s not possible for 10 people living in a tin shack… to not go outside for three weeks.”
“Coronavirus should not be a reason to destroy our economy at all,” said Tanzanian President John Magufuli. (Reuters)
27 Sha’baan 1441 – 21 April 2020