United Nations, Government of Kenya and development partners agree to reprogramme $3.1m towards rapid COVID-19 response

April 23, 2020

Doctors attend to a patient at the Mbagathi hospital that has been set aside as the isolation center for Covid-19 cases in Kenya Photo: Courtesy WHO Kenya

Nairobi, 22 April 2020 – As part of the United Nations’ response to the impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic in Kenya, an agreement has been reached with partners to mobilize $3.1m of funds committed to a devolution support project towards rapid measures to mitigate the impact and spread of the virus by increasing capacity of the healthcare system, building resilience of vulnerable populations, social protection, and advocating for the rights of women.

These interventions, which have been formulated in line with the COVID-19 Contingency Plan developed by the Government of Kenya (GoK), include advocacy and outreach to prevent an increase in Gender-Based Violence (GBV), cash transfers to build the resilience of vulnerable populations, procurement of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for health facilities, the deployment of experienced medical personnel to the counties, and support to national and county governments for business continuity and enhancement of human capital.

The Consolidating Gains and Deepening Devolution in Kenya project, which is led by UNDP and jointly implemented by UNICEF and UN Women in close collaboration with the Ministry of Devolution and ASALs and supported by the governments of Finland, Italy and Sweden, was due to begin when COVID-19 emerged as an urgent threat to national health as well as socioeconomic development. 

Speaking to partners this week during a tele-conference co-chaired by PS Mr. Charles Sunkuli of the Ministry of Devolution and ASALs, and Mr. Walid Badawi, UNDP Resident Representative in Kenya highlighted the criticality of adapting to the changing conditions and thanked partners for their responsiveness.

“We are living in extraordinary times: recognizing the reality of the current situation, today we are adapting this devolution support programme to better assist Kenyans in the fight against COVID-19. I applaud the flexibility and generosity of our partners, the Government of Kenya and the governments of Finland, Italy and Sweden for their approval to use existing funds to support a rapid response,” Mr. Badawi said.

In consideration of the fast-moving nature of the crisis, partners have agreed to an initial six-month workplan to strengthen Kenya’s response to COVID-19 at both national and county-levels. This plan is structured on four key pillars: -

UNDP will lead in the development and dissemination of GoK and WHO guidance-based messaging through radio, TV, bulk SMS and social media; UNICEF will sensitize target populations on best practices around water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH); and, UN Women will undertake advocacy work to prevent an increase in GBV and marginalization of women during the COVID-19 period. This support will also facilitate business continuity at county level for county assemblies and county executives.

UN Women will support the supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) and provision of psychosocial to frontline health workers while UNICEF will distribute WASH supplies at the sub-county level, and to roll-out cash transfers to 214 vulnerable urban households in each of 14 target counties for 6 months. UNDP will facilitate the immediate deployment of over 50 UN Volunteers (UNVs) with relevant medical experience to support healthcare facilities.  

Several interventions will also be undertaken by each of the three implementing UN agencies to support a surge capacity in human resources; these will be executed in tandem with strategic partners including the Council of Governors (CoG), County Assemblies Forum (CAF) and Ministry of Interior to address key elements of the COVID-19 response, including provision of technical support to address implications related to gender, WASH, micro and small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), socioeconomic impact and medical waste management.

UN Women will facilitate the secondment of a Gender in Emergencies Specialist into the National Emergency Response Committee to ensure a gender sensitive approach to the country’s pandemic and recovery plans that follow.  A gender-sensitive rapid assessment will be carried out to determine the impact of COVID-19 on households and communities to build a more accurate picture of the effects experienced by men and women, with further analyses being planned to understand the impacts for men and women in public services; micro, small, medium enterprises (MSMEs),  budget reallocation in counties.

Resources will be directed to the national GBV hotline – HAK 1195 – to strengthen the country’s ability to report and respond to the rise in violence and sexual abuse. The service will be expanded to provide psychosocial support and information on GBV and COVID19. Technical support will also focus on developing guidelines for isolation facilities with respect to gender, and GBV service provision during COVID19 are also being defined. Dignity kits containing essential hygiene products will also be distributed country-wide to ensure women, girls and survivors of SGBV are not left behind

This joint response to the COVID-19 emergency by the Government of Kenya, United Nations and development partners follows the recent Flash Appeal made at the United Nations in Nairobi on April 9 2020. CS Eugene Wamalwa of the Ministry of Devolution and ASALs and CS Ukur Yatani Kanacho of the National Treasury and Planning joined the UN Resident Coordinator to Kenya Mr. Siddharth Chatterjee in requesting $267.5m to respond to critical needs of the most vulnerable communities in Kenya during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Flash Appeal aims at mobilizing funding for the next six months that will be used to support public health responses that will contain the spread and impact of COVID-19 in the country. The UN has already redeployed $45m and over 70 staff and volunteers to support the Government of Kenya in its response to the COVID 19 pandemic.

For more information:

Lucky Musonda (UNDP) lucky.musonda@undp.org; Luke Horsewell (UN Women)    luke.Horsewell@unwomen.org; John Obisa (UNICEF) jobisa@unicef.org