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More needs to be done to end mass suffering

by kenya-tribune

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The results of a government survey published this week graphically capture the full impact of the coronavirus pandemic on households.

More than half of the population have recorded reduced incomes in the past two months due to knock-on effects of the containment measures to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Job cuts, business losses and reduced agricultural productivity have drastically cut incomes. For example, a third of tenants cannot pay rent.

Yet few landlords are willing to give relief; most of them are equally thrust into a cash crunch as they must pay mortgages or meet other financial obligations from rental incomes.

Clearly, the “Survey on Socio-Economic Impact of Covid-19 on Households Report” by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics confirms what has been anecdotal information on the pangs occasioned by the virus.

The survey highlights layoffs, forced unpaid leave and a drastic decline in productivity in the formal sector. The informal sector has equally recorded colossal business declines, forcing many to fold due to financial crises.


After the first case of coronavirus infection in March, the government imposed several controls, among them a dusk-to-dawn curfew, movement restrictions in areas considered high-risk, and closure of schools, hotels and airports.

Cumulatively, these have visited suffering on citizens and the concern, widely expressed in the report, is uncertainty over the reopening of the economy. That partly explains the increasing social delinquency.

Among the highlights of the survey, which is vital in informing government decisions, is the fact that education is one of the worst-hit sectors.

Many hours have been lost as learning institutions remain shut. Less than half of learners — 42 per cent — access online programmes earnestly promoted by the Education ministry.

Worse, some 24.6 per cent of the students are locked out as they cannot access any form of learning.

This is germane, coming as the government has set up a task force to advise it on the reopening of schools.

Learners, teachers and parents have on several occasions lamented that the shutdown is hurting education and the online programmes do not reach everyone, creating distortions and inequality in the education sector.

The objective of the survey, which KNBS states will be conducted every two weeks, is to inform the government on the conditions facing households and facilitate strategic responses.

Given the obtaining economic and social distress, it is evident that the relief measures enunciated by the government so far have not achieved the desired objective.

The imperative is for the government to enhance relief packages to cushion citizens.

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