Feature Stories: Africa

Innovative Sustainable Development at your doorstep

Nairobi, Kenya. Young Mothers Therapeutic Photography Project

Young Mothers Participate in the Photography Project in Nairobi Kenya. August 2020

In June 2020 young mothers were selected to participate in a unique therapeutic photography training program in Gataka. This opportunity has provided these young women with essential digital skills that they can use in future both for their entertainment but most importantly as a source of revenue. We look forward to working closely with these young women do continue developing their capacity.

Nairobi, Kenya. The plight of children during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Governments worldwide have closed schools indefinitely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On July 6th, 2020, The Government of Kenya’s decision to close all education facilities until January 202 as a measure to contain the spread of the pandemic will significantly change the trajectory of a child’s life for years to come.

Globally an estimated 1.54 billion children and youth – including 111 million girls are not in school because of COVID-19-related prevention measures (UNICEF, 2020). It is evident that girls are at a greater disadvantage and their futures in peril and this is a lifechanging period for many ambitious, hopeful young girls across developing countries who perceive education as a ticket to their independence and indeed success. Blinks engagement with young girls in informal settlements have indicated that girls are far more likely than boys to never return to school after this pandemic. According to the UNICEF report, many children are either compelled to manage household duties, take care of family members, including the sick and elderly, or are pushed into early marriage or forced exploitative labour to cope with economic hardship. It is also known that women and girls are at greater risk of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) due to the economic insecurity and lockdown measures linked to COVID-19. Roughly four and half months after the first case was identified in Kenya the Government has been battling another disaster the unprecedented rise of teenage pregnancies indicative of the urgent need for Sexual and Reproductive Health Services to this vulnerable population.

Continuation of Learning

Although charities and organizations across the world are working to promote digital learning, access to technology is essential to achieve this. Unfortunately for many developing countries acquiring digital learning devices is difficult to gain access to especially at such short notice and with non-existent infrastructure to support the advanced technology to continue learning. This clear shortfall further illustrates the gap between the affluent minority located in urban areas and those in rural communities. It demonstrates the need for sustainable concrete solutions that promote equitable access to transformative educational resources supported by technology.

Therefore, to make sure no child is left behind we need to bring their perspectives and experiences to the forefront and work with them to design both short-term and long-term solutions during this time of great uncertainty. Blink is keen to investigate what children and youth need at this time to help them avoid negative coping mechanism due to poverty, boredom or even peer pressure. Our Blink ambassadors across the continent are working to empower and engage children living in vulnerable communities. There should be an increased focus on building and strengthening wider protection services and integration of mental healthcare into all services provided, especially education. Now is the opportune time for older generations to mentor and guide young people so that they may come out stronger, more informed and goal-oriented. It is the time to actualize and harness hidden talents and ambitions that may be pursued in future not only when schools reopen but for their future careers as strategists and problem solvers. To achieve this parents/caregivers should buy their children enlightening books to read that are not necessarily related to academics and provide history lessons to learn about their cultures and lineage. Similarly teaching them artistic crafts that are not ordinarily taught in schools will long surpass this turbulent time. There is no doubt that we were unprepared for the disaster we face today but all is not lost. Let us build our children’s characters by fostering a clear sense of identity and building the necessary stamina they need to see any difficult task through to its end. Let’s see to it that they build a stronger resilience and think about innovative solutions for tomorrows potential problems so that they are in a better position to predict and smoothly ride the waves of the inevitable calamities that are to come.

Nairobi, Kenya. The Impact of Corona Virus on Vulnerable Women in Informal Settlements.

Susan Kamau* is a single mother in Gataka, an informal settlement located in Nairobi. The Blink survey team identified her during their need’s assessment conducted on 6th June 2020. Before the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent closure of major industries she used to sell fresh fruits outside one of Nairobi’s universities. However, since the indefinite closure of learning facilities, she has lost her main clientele and has experienced a drastic and sudden loss of income. Her savings have been depleted having spent her reserves on essential commodities such as food for her four children aged between the ages of 7 to 16. On the 2nd of June Susan’s landlord removed her door because she has not paid rent in the last 3 months. The rent cost per month is 1,300KES (USD 13). Susan* informed the Blink survey team that her biggest fear is theft which has seen a drastic rise in recent months due to the pandemic. She is, therefore, reluctant to leave her house unattended. Another concern is the general insecurity this poses to her and her children especially at night when they have no way to protect themselves against bandits and intruders.

Blink has used its platform to connect Nancy to service providers and well-wishers who can support her however it must be acknowledged that vulnerable women like Susan* need further support to ensure their financial and physical safety during these unprecedented times.

Next Steps…

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