Our Viewpoints on COVID-19

Pastoralists' Counties are characterized by populace of over 87.5% illiterates as per Kenya Population and Housing Survey 2019, rough terrains, dominance of regressive cultural practices, irresponsive national and county government policies for containment and expansion of pastoralism in dimensions of health and development. These communities are deep rooted into their cultural norms they have propelled the culture to generations by lack of exposure to education and civilization due to their lifestyle which have made them to live in rangelands areas susceptible of diverse natural ins and outs The indigenous communities have so long time depended on indigenous plants for medicinal treatment, this has instigated ignorance to government provided health services and reluctance of care givers in rural settings of the counties. Owing to complexity and non-curative nature of the global pandemic COVID-19 the local treatments are rendered absolute therefore the communities need to be educated not to depend on indigenous herbs on such global pandemic. The mentality that the pandemic could possibly be treated the same way as other renowned diseases has instigated reluctance of the communities on observing government directives in optimism of the indigenous herbs.

These counties are majorly affected by proliferation of illegal arms which have undermined security having undulation effect on economy and development. The COVID-19 has become more of a social issue than it is a health issue due to the far-reaching precautionary measures which have affected the routine activities of the entire world. This has lengthily affected normalcy in the diverse economic corridors of the globe, Samburu, Isiolo and Marsabit Counties context is complex as people’s lifestyle is nomadic pastoralism which dictates the livelihoods to be solely dependent to livestock especially now where there is plenty of grass, healthy animals and the livestock business at the apex of its contributions to the economy. Due to all of above stated there have been increased vulnerability and exposure to diverse detrimental health disparities in the progressive years.

These challenges have augmented vulnerability of the communities living in Samburu, Isiolo and Marsabit Counties in Kenya during these trying times of a global infection COVID-19. Pastoralists who largely dominate in these counties and who are nomadic pastoralists in nature where their livelihoods are solely shouldered on livestock. They sell their livestock during the market days across the county. The pastoralist communities are also pigeon-holed by close social fabrics encouraging social engagements extending from old-men who seats during the daytime to play old-age games and social chats under cool shelters in sacred places designated for their meetings, children who play even at night in advantage to moonlight, women who seats under the shelters of their huts to darn and make beads to youths who mingle together during day and night dances, eat together and graze together. These daily activities gives a high potential to the speedy spread of the COVID-19 which has now escalated to thousands in Kenya.

There’s a need to curb spread by prioritization of adequate information access and livelihood support by timely dialogues in consideration to the government directives and livelihood activities i.e. indigenous hens and vertical gardens. Interventions should also capitalize on reduction of vulnerabilities instigated by the COVID-19 due to strict guidelines by MOH to control spread e.g. closure of market days leading to upstretched cases of food inadequacy and malnutrition.