The case for analyzing 2nd order impact of COVID-19 in settlements in Nairobi

Nairobi has been the epicenter for Kenya’s Covid-19 outbreak during the global pandemic. In the early days of the pandemic, the Kenyan government imposed a fairly drastic lockdown, including closing in-country travel. This resulted in a massive economic impact. Some trade was allowed to continue, but most individuals were impacted. Schools were also ordered shut.

In September, only testing grades 4, 8, and 12 were reopened. Most schoolteachers in private, informal schools were without pay, or with severely lower pay since schools depend on fees.

Many individuals were forced to quarantine in hotels by the government, at their own expense, if they were found to be exposed or test positive. This also disrupted the economy, as many were providers. Other impacts included increased inter-familial problems, domestic violence and divorce.

Additionally, curfews were put in place and gatherings were limited in size. Many bars and restaurants were forced to close. Tourist dollars dried up. Tourism accounts for 8.8% of GDP, and 8.3% of jobs in Kenya. In slums, police enforced curfews and mask wearing, sometimes violently.

As of January 4, 2021, children returned to public schools. It remains difficult to assess whether the reopening alleviated some, if any, of the losses felt by the community.

Cities Covid Mitigation Mapping Project (C2M2), from the MapGive program at the US Department of State, aims to use information obtained from schools serving those living Nairobi’s slums as proxy in order to understand the second order impact of COVID-10 on the education sector. GroundTruth, as the Nairobi partner, will use resources like OpenStreetMap, Kobo’s cloud database, and Map Kibera’s Open Schools Kenya website, to secure and visualize collected data. This data will also be used to understand how the residents have been responding to the closures as well as changes in sanitation, water access, and job losses. The team will also look at other impacted aspects of life in settlements, especially around water access and hygiene.

Equipped with research teams from Map Kibera, the project will learn how the lockdowns have affected the education sector and share recommendations on how to address these needs in the future. Findings and related data will be made available through OpenStreetMap and other open platforms for easy access by the public and government organizations so they make informed decisions on how to mitigate the second-order impacts of COVID-19.