This essay collates news and public discourse identified by members of the Research Data KE Working Group that are of interest to thinking about the COVID19 epidemic in/from/about Kenya. We are particularly interested in archiving and tracking how media and other public channels are discussing the epidemic in order to identify relevant research resources and translate our individual experiences and data into collective knowledge that can support communities. We plan to use this information to better identify and collate existing qualitative/ethnographic research resources across diverse thematic areas relevant to thinking about and working on the COVID 19 global pandemic. We are collaborating on this project with the Transnational STS COVID-19 Project.
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Updated as of March 31, 2020. Listed alphabetically by last name.
Urban planner, data scientist who has worked in Kenya on air pollution. PhD researcher at the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at MIT. Set up a low-...Read more
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The Research Data KE Working Group continues to collates news and public discourse that are of interest to thinking about the COVID19 epidemic in/from/about Kenya. We are particularly interested in archiving and tracking how media and other public channels are discussing the pandemic in order to identify relevant research resources and translate our individual experiences and data into collective knowledge that can support communities. We plan to use this information to better identify and collate existing qualitative/ethnographic research resources across diverse thematic areas relevant to thinking about and working on the COVID 19 global pandemic. We are collaborating on this project with the Transnational STS COVID-19 Project.
This sign was posted on a glass window of a butchery in a Kenyan rural town (Nyeri). The butchery uses English to remind customers of accepted COVID-19 prevention protocols with the sign reminding the reader to wear a face mask. This message reflects an adoption and acceptance of disease prevention communication even in a rural context.
These posters were posted on the entry door of a butchery in rural Kenya (Nyeri). The top sign refers to anyone with COVID-19 as a 'suspect' who is unwelcome in the butchery. The bottom sign provides directions in graphical form for how to wash one's hands, just above a container with fresh water. It is set outside for customers to wash their hands before they enter the butchery. The hostility and caution reflected in the two signs reflect the multiple, sometimes contrasting views held towards the coronavirus pandemic. The signs indicate an acceptance and recognition of the pandemic's spread and reach, as well as a stigmatisation of those infected with the virus.
Wambui: The COVID-19 signage outside this butchery in rural Kenya has changed slightly in the past year. This year (2021) the focus is on inviting customers to get their temperature checked and to wear masks and wash hands as they enter the premises. Last year, in the pandemic, the signage include a warning for those with COVID-19 symptoms not to enter at all. The earlier message suggested a stigmatising of those who had been infected. A year later, there seems to be less fear of the disease, so that customers are not potentially stigmatised yet are urged to remain vigilant in avoiding infection.
AO: This image (by Reuters) was captioned with the following: "The owners of some private schools have turned to alternative sources of income such as raising chickens." Schools were shut in March 2020 as part of lockdown measures in Kenya. There has been a see-saw between opening or not opening public schools in 2020. Due to the closures, many private schools have struggled to survive without an income from pupil fees, which has led them to try to find alternative sources of income (e.g. chicken rearing).
This photo, taken by Reuters' Baz Ratner on August 21, 2021, was originally captioned: "A protester holds a placard during a demonstration against suspected corruption in the response of the Kenyan government to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak." This image is important to recognize that these protests of corruption transpired directly prior to the IMF issuing new additional government loans, (which are ostensibly to help alleviate the economic burden that COVID-19 has had on citizens). These new loans have led to widespread public outcry in April 2021 over the issuing of these additional loans to a corrupt national government.
Aurelia: The image represents a common scenario that has been happening in Kenya and I guess the rest of the world; COVID 19 vaccination. The dominant conversation has been about sensitising reluctant Kenyan including health workers to get vaccinated. Suspicion about the quality, type and agenda of vacination in Kenya is not new. There have been previous debates about HPV vaccines for young girls; under five vaccinations.
I am currently interested in understanding where the vaccination suspicion emerges from, how this fear is spread and sustained.
This "graphical abstract" from a scientific study that conveniently began data collection prior to COVID (late 2019) and then conducted a follow-up in April 2020 (see more on the method and process described in this public piece here) found that inequities in clean cooking fuel access may have been exacerbated by COVID-19 lockdown and they hypothesized that health effects related to the resulting air pollution would result. I include this image partly to highlight the issues related to changes in energy and food security that COVID has brought but also to highlight how research and data collection continue under COVID.
These artifacts have circulated either on Kenyan mainstream or social media and we believe are relevant to understanding how the public is interpreting & experiencing COVID19 and its effects in Kenya.
How have different actors responded to COVID-19 and what kinds of counter responses have emerged to that?
How is COVID-19 knowledge and expertise moving across national borders? How are researchers outside dominant institutions of knowledge production organising? What new collaborations and synergies are being formed? How are they working?
How is COVID-19 “in Africa” (or “in Kenya”) being mentioned in comparison to other regions? What does the commentator state is unique about the COVID-19 experience in Kenya (or “Africa”)?
What anxieties and patterns of concern has COVID-19 provoked in different social groups?
What data infrastructure supports efforts to understand and respond to COVID-19? What data is being generated to better understand COVID-19 and where is it being stored/analyzed/collected and to what effects?
What claims are being made about COVID-19 and how is data leveraged or not?
How is COVID19 impacting and intersecting with food security?
How are universities responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, what kind of support have they been given, what problems have emerged, and how are these problems being tracked and responded to?
How is COVID19 impacting and intersecting with mental health? What is being foregrounded and obscured -- as problems, and as needed response?
These are existing and newly created research reports and data which we identified as possibly insightful for understanding Kenyan experiences of COVID19. They may or may not be explicitly about COVID-19.