Economic impact of COVID-19 and Donations

COVID-19 Donations
COVID-19 Donations (Image credits  zameen)

Lately, there have been several appeals for donations to assist the needy people in our society. COVID-19 has just brought the vast economic disparities that existed to light. There have been more job cuts, and families have lost their livelihoods in the wake of the containment measures set by the government.

The Kenyan government has put in place economic stimulus efforts. Some of which are failing due to the culture of corruption. It emerged that they had to change tact from the initial plan of giving food donations, to cash transfers, after they discovered that brokers were stealing donated foodstuffs.

Ever since the government directive for coordinated donations of foodstuffs through the Kenya COVID-19 fund, I have been asking myself how they will identify people in need of these donations and make sure these donations reach them. One of my fears was that the contributions would end up not benefiting the intended beneficiaries. The directive for coordinated food donations was introduced by the government in good faith, since personalities were taking advantage of the situation, putting the lives of the people receiving the COVID-19 donations in danger of infections and death. The deaths of two women from a stampede are what prompted this directive.

Then there’s the issue of branding donations with our photos. I don’t have to mention names of people who have this philosophy. It all goes to reducing human suffering to a commodity. Let’s look at it from an economic angle, shall we? They can use the money spent on branding to buy more of the donations to help more families in need. I am aware that they may counter my argument with they are creating jobs by giving business to branding companies. How do you justify branding your face on sanitary towels and you don’t manufacture them? We could and should do better than this. 

Youth-led programs are doing a great job in terms of coordinated food donations. An example is the Adopt a Family initiative in Kibera, led by my friend Moses Omondi. A better option I must say, compared to “parading people to give them aid”. This way, you preserve their dignity and protect their health by adhering to the social distancing requirements. The president even lauded the initiative during one of his COVID-19 press briefings.

The Nakuru Senator, Susan Kihika asked on Twitter if we still have a Civil Society, because of the “deafening silence”.

Do we still have a Civil Society in Kenya? Better still, Where did the vibrant Civil Society of yesteryear disappear to? Their silence is deafening.

— Sen. Susan Kihika (@susankihika) June 4, 2020

The Civil Society might be silent, but they are doing a lot during this pandemic. The silence could be because most of our work is away from the cameras. Cameras and photo ops are suited for the show and feed egos rather than feeding the hungry.

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