How have different actors responded to COVID-19 and what kinds of counter responses have emerged to that?


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Angela Okune's picture
May 5, 2021

This image is of public protests against government corruption related to COVID-19 protective equipment. These critiques emerged prior to the April 2021 public criticism of the government and the IMF who, using the COVID-19 crisis approved new additional loans (ostensibly to help alleviate the economic burden that COVID-19 has had on citizens). Against already blatent government corruption under the cover of COVID-19, the Kenyan public have been asking why additional funding to the government is being given by international lenders. The international financial regime of the World Bank and IMF find themselves in a difficult position. The wide public critique (and use of social media to make a resouncing public online campaign against the loans) of the loan raises questions about the ways that international bodies like the World Bank and IMF support particular government regimes and the mechanisms through which citizens can hold their governments accountable (and sever the support from international bodies).

According to this blog, "To scale down the matter, the IMF ordered Kenya to be accountable for the loan by enforcing wealth declarations for all public servants in the quest to curb corruption and reducing government parastatal expenditures. After securing the IMF loan, Kenya is set to borrow a new Ksh124 billion fourth Eurobond and Ksh82 billion World Bank loans to fund development projects and fight the Covid-19 pandemic. Kenya's debt currently stands at Ksh6.69 billion and poised to rise to 9.37 trillion by mid-2023."

August 10, 2020

Kenya's official response to Corona Virus has included the provision of prevention protocols (e.g. washing hands and wearing masks). The sign shows the acceptance of such messages in a rural context. The message is in English in a town where the majority speak the local language, and meat transactions are usually conducted in that language. English is used to communicate about COVID-19 in written form. The local language - Gikuyu - is used orally not only for meat transactions but also for discussion about the disease, its spread, prevention, etc. 

August 10, 2020

Kenya's official response to Corona Virus has included the provision of prevention protocols (e.g. washing hands and wearing masks). The lower sign shows the acceptance of such messages in a rural context while the top sign shows a counter response to Corona Virus, namely the stigmatisation of those infected. There has been talk of how similar the reactions and responses to Corona Virus are to the emergence of HIV/AIDS in the late 1980s. Those with HiV/AIDS were often treated with suspicion or outright discrimination, including being denied service in areas such as restaurants, markets, etc. 

Angela Okune's picture
May 8, 2020

AO: This article describes how the Kenyan government implemented (overly?) aggressive tactics to crackdown on the spread of Coronavirus including mandatory quarantine period and required fees to be released from quarantine. The article also notes how in the first 10 days of the curfew, Kenyan police officers killed at least six people while trying to enforce the lockdown (according to Human Rights Watch). In response, human rights groups like Kenya Legal and Ethical Issues Network, a nongovernmental organization, and nonprofit Katiba Institute along with seven people who say they were held in quarantine have filed a lawsuit against the government for violating the human rights of those held in mandatory quarantine. There have also been public protests and Kenya Human Rights Commission appears to be tracking the issues although the article didn't mention specific actions they have taken.

April 20, 2020

AO: Mike Sonko responded to the COVID-19 crisis in Kenya by distributing care packages to hospitals and the controversial aspect was that he included alcohol in the packages.

Angela Okune's picture
April 10, 2020

AO: In addition to this infographic by IDEO (who is the target audience for this infographic?), I have also observed several corporate research companies figuring out how to spin their ongoing and previous research projects to speak to COVID-19 issues. An internal discussion I observed was that the company wanted to package their previous work to show how it was relevant to COVID-19 but others in the organization didn't want to seem like they were tooting their own horn too much/pushing their own branding. So an interesting catch-22 is that you want to seem like your organization is on the forefront but also not wanting to appear to only be pushing your own branding. You want to ensure your work speaks to timely issues but also not seeming like you are riding on unfortunate events in the world.