Beyond COVID-19: Supporting the most vulnerable children after the pandemic
Increased stress, food poverty and gender-based violence. For the most disadvantaged children in Kenya, this has been their daily reality for the past 18 months. The necessary public health restrictions introduced to contain the spread of Coronavirus left thousands of children trapped in extremely difficult domestic environments. A lack of support from public services meant that many of these children suffered in silence. That is when our dedicated team stepped up to the plate. By quickly expanding the capacity of our existing services we provided food, counselling and a safe haven to countless children across the country.
The huge increase in unemployment also affected the most vulnerable in society more than anyone else. With a huge drop in low-paid jobs, the level of extreme poverty in the country’s slums surged. An additional 2 million people were quickly facing serious food insecurity while the lack of a coordinated government approach potentially dommed an untold number of children to a future of inequality and continued poverty. And it didn’t stop there! Across the country, more than 60% of Kenyan families said they could no longer afford three meals per day..even in the upper middle class communities of Nairobi and Mombasa.
And while unemployment and food poverty shot up for all to see, the hidden pandemic of gender-based violence against women and young girls was raging behind closed doors in every community across the country. Trapped at home with their abusers, many girls were raped after being forced into transactional sex while others suffered female genital mutilation and even murder. It became so bad that more than 50% of women in Kenya surveyed said they knew a woman that had experienced physical violence and verbal abuse since mid-2020. In Nairobi, many young girls said that limited access to State services forced them to stay at home to endure very dangerous situations. And it was into this vacuum that our team stepped.
Now with the success of the vaccine programme and the resumption of ‘normal life’ just around the corner, we are turning our attention to how we support the increased number of vulnerable children and families who have suffered greatly during the last 18 months. We are committed to providing even more spaces in our children’s camps, counselling and gender violence programmes all over the country. We hope that this second significant expansion in our service offering will reach even more of the victims long after the pandemic is over!
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