Community Based Organizations, including Resident Associations have emerged to be key allies in the fight against COVID 19.

They have complemented Government efforts by creating public awareness on COVID 19, mobilizing the masses to observe Government guidelines, establishing hand washing stations in strategic places in the informal settlements among other initiatives. However, there perspective and involvement in the fight against the pandemic have not been properly captured and there is no data that can inform decisions aimed at enhancing the good work by the community groups. 

In order to independently assess the perspective and involvement of community groups in the fight against COVID 19 in Kenya, The Kenya Alliance of Resident Associations (KARA) in collaboration with Hanns Seidel Foundation, commissioned IPSOS to carry out a scientific survey focusing on community perspective and involvement in the fight against COVID 19 in Kenya. The survey focused on the following six Counties that have recorded high cases of COVID 19:Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Nakuru, Uasin Gishu and Machakos.

Key Highlights & Results of the Survey

On Measures Taken by Households to Avoid Contracting COVID-19, the survey found out that majority of the households (92%) preferred wearing of mask at all time in public, 86% preferred frequent hand washing, 54% preferred using hand sanitizers, 48% to keep social distance and 25% avoiding crowded places. Almost every household (99%) in Eldoret town reported to be wearing a mask at all times in public to avoid contracting COVID-19. Nairobi had the least (89%) number of households who reported to be wearing a mask at all times in public. In terms of households who frequently wash hands, Eldoret again is at the top (96%) while Nairobi had the least (80%) number of households who frequently wash their hands.

On Persons Running The Initiatives/Activities To Prevent The Spread Of COVID-19, the survey found out that Chiefs were reported as the main actors running initiatives/activities to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within the communities overall. Resident associations and the community-based organizations accounted for 15% of the organizations running the initiatives to prevent spread of COVID-19. County Governments and Health workers accounted for 12% and 10% respectively.County Governments were reported to lead these initiatives in Machakos (24%), Kisumu (14%), Nakuru (16%) and Eldoret (16%). In Nairobi and Mombasa the chiefs remained as the main group leading these initiatives to curb the spread of COVID-19. Residents associations and the community-based organizations mentioned more in Nairobi and Eldoret as compared to the other towns.

On Initiatives/Activities Undertaken to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19, the survey found out that establishment of hand washing stations in the informal settlements ( creation of public awareness on COVID 19, provision of masks and other PPE were reported as some of the initiatives being undertaken in the communities to prevent spread of COVID-19. Creation of public awareness on COVID 19 and establishment of hand washing stations in the informal settlements are also the main initiatives being undertaken by the Residents' Associations and the community-based organizations.

On relevance of the Initiatives to the Community,the survey found out that two thirds of the respondents mentioned that all the initiatives undertaken to help fight COVID-19 were necessary i.e. Creating public awareness (79%), Mobilizing masses to observe Government’s guidelines (85%), Establishing hand washing stations (78%), Providing Masks & PPEs (81%).  Nevertheless, testing for COVID-19 (89%) was highly reported as the most necessary and impactful initiative.

On Source of Resources for the Initiatives by the various organizations within the community, the survey found out that majority of the respondents did not know the source of the resources being used in the initiatives to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The Government was mentioned as the main source of funding for the COVID-19 related activities among the respondents (55%) who reported to know the sources of such funding.

On Preferred Areas/Issues of focus by community organizations in fight against COVID-19, the survey found out that majority of the respondents (38%) mentioned that the community-based organizations should focus more on creating awareness on COVID-19 to sustain current efforts. In Kisumu (52%) and Machakos (41%) the communities would want the community organizations to focus more on provision of masks.

On Preferred Areas/Issues of focus by community organizations in fight against COVID-19, majority of the respondents (36%) mentioned that community-based organizations should focus more on facilitating the provision of basic needs such as food and clean water. Creation of job opportunities (27%), offer financial support (25%), adherence to COVID19 regulations (13%), improving education (11%), environment cleaning (4%), Youth/Women empowerment (3%), investment in health Sector (2%), improved infrastructure (2%). This shows that these COVID-19 initiatives need to be implemented in the context of other livelihood enhancing activities.