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Time for a comprehensive post-Covid rejuvenation plan

By Gathu Kaara
Monday, September 28th, 2020
An elderly man undergoes a COVID-19 nasal swab test. Photo/Courtesy
In summary

As the National Covid-19 Conference is held today, it must see its role as articulating and recommending a comprehensive post-corona rejuvenation programme for Kenya.

This is informed by the fact that Kenya seems to have surmounted the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic, eight months after the first case landed in March 2020. It is time to look towards the future.

The corona pandemic has impacted all aspects of Kenya’s body politic immensely. From an economic, social or psychological standpoint, nothing has been spared.

That is why the National Covid-19 Conference must see its role as being beyond mere “economic recovery,” or “reopening of the economy.”

The forum, seeing as it is bringing together a wide cross section of stakeholders, must endeavor to put together a well-defined, timebound and measurable programme for rejuvenating the country.

On the economic front, the key challenge is the resuscitation of businesses that closed or are struggling  due to corona virus.

The country must work out ways in which businesses get support to jumpstart.

Only through reviving businesses will the country reinstate people’s jobs and livelihoods. This is a quick win.

The Government usually borrows heavily for infrastructure. It should now borrow to set up a revolving fund to assist businesses return to their feet, and lend them money at low interest rates and long tenors.

The National Covid-19 Conference will be remiss if it does not propose concrete measures to get businesses back on their feet.

From a psychological perspective, the country needs to heal. The corona pandemic has created huge mental stresses in people.

It has afflicted all alike, whether adults or children, due to huge anxieties over the future. For once, the country needs to think outside the box, and the National Covid-19 Conference must lead the way. 

Corona has traumatized Kenyans. Job losses, gender-based violence, severe anxiety as a result of business collapse and job losses, hopelessness and resignation, all these have afflicted Kenyans.

A programme of healing the nation must be put in place to assist people reset back to normal psychologically.

A national network of counsellors, within reach of all Kenyans who need it, needs to be instituted immediately under the Ministry of Health.

With many people in “their right frame of mind,” so to speak, recovery of the country will go much faster.

Support systems must also be set up for the lives shattered during the corona pandemic.

These include children who were abused, women who suffered domestic violence, and victims of police over exuberance in enforcing the curfews among others.

Thousands of schoolgirls have been impregnated during the pandemic as schools have remained closed. For many of these girls, their lives are destroyed, as they will not return to school.

Worse, they will now enter into a vicious cycle of poverty as young mothers who will struggle to make ends meet, bring up their children in poverty so that they also never get a proper education- and the cycle continues.

Because of the corona restrictions, many of the victims were unable to find any support systems.

The Government must combine with religious leaders and civil society organisations to assist these girls not only to raise these children, but also to go back and finish school.

The same goes for many schoolboys who have fallen into drugs and crime.

The National Emergency Response on Coronavirus (NERC) must, of course, tell the country the measures they have put in place to ensure that the country is not hit by a second wave.

Countries across Europe, and others like Israel, have just imposed the draconian restrictions they had when the first wave hit, having reversed all their gains in the fight. Kenya must avoid a second wave at all costs.

Human issues are what the National Covid-19 Conference must be about. The work of combating the pandemic seems to be in capable hands with the NERC, and it is unlikely that there is anything on that front that stakeholders at the conference can add.

Their real value add will be mapping and tackling the humanitarian crisis that the pandemic has created. - Gathu Kaara can be reached at [email protected] — Story Credit /Email here

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