Like many countries across the world, Kenya is experiencing huge political and societal changes as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak.

  For many communities the social and economic impacts of the Coronavirus are likely to be dire. But local efforts that nurture and strengthen connectivity and a sense of belongingness will be vital to in mitigating the fallout. Local responses to the pandemic are minimizing the spread and impact of the virus in the communities.

Citizens play a key role in the fight against Covid 19, and can be more effective in their role if they are well organized and have in place well established structures such as Resident Associations as tools for engaging government on service delivery issues. Over the past decade, Kenya has seen rapid growth of Resident Associations and more citizens are embracing the need to take charge of their neighborhoods. The Associations have been instrumental in advocating for better services.

Since the COVID 19 situation began in Kenya, Resident Associations across the country have stepped up to support the fight against the pandemic in various ways. For instance a number of Resident Associations have been instrumental in supporting efforts aimed at creating awareness on safety measures for Covid  19; mobilizing residents to participate in mass testing exercises; installing hand washing stations at the neighborhoods to enhance hygiene; sharing experiences and educational materials through social media platforms; disinfecting high traffic places within the neighborhoods; establishing community welfare funds to assist less fortunate, and distributing personal protective equipments to residents such as face masks, gloves and sanitizers.  These activities have positively contributed to efforts aimed at reducing the spread of the virus within the neighborhoods.

However Resident Associations have experienced several challenges in their responses towards Covid 19 at the neighborhood level. For instance, noncompliance by some residents to adhere with  measures and guidelines set by the government on social distancing, hand washing & wearing of face masks, thus posing health risks within communities; the spread of inaccurate information through social media has also created tension within communities; poor disposal of waste from Covid 19 hence increasing risk of infections; inconveniences caused by upsurge of drinking of alcohol at home or within estates, and stigmatization of individuals who have tested positive to Covid-19 which creates disharmony in communities. The current lockdown in some Counties and cessation of movement has also heightened frustrations among many residents.

While tremendous gains have been made through the efforts of Government and other sectors in the fight against Covid 19, there is need to actively engage communities by establishing structured engagement with community groups such as Resident Associations and using their networks to facilitate initiatives aimed at supporting the fight against the pandemic. There is need to have a comprehensive data base of the initiatives being undertaken by various community groups, identify challenges and gaps, and work together to address such gaps and enhance such indicatives. Given that Corona Virus may be with us for a very long time, more attention should be given to community ownership and community driven mitigation measures to ensure sustainability.