The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic has affected thousands of lives across Kenya and globally. We, at the Centre for Domestic Training and Development (CDTD) are deeply saddened by the unprecedented human suffering caused by the pandemic and its accompanying social, economic and political ramifications. It threatens to reverse existing achievements by the global community on both the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

As an organization, we are working closely with the Government of Kenya, alongside international and national CSO partners and the communities where we work to ensure that all our constituents; Domestic Workers, Victims of Trafficking, vulnerable girls and women receive the necessary support during this extremely challenging time.

CDTD realizes that there has been a series of concerns with the rise in GBV cases in Kenya as a result of self-isolation and livelihoods losses. We are committed to supporting GBV survivors and victims of Covid-19 related human rights violations. We have formed a National Shelters Network to ease in response and delivery of timely services to victims of SGBV in Kenya.  We are happy to be of service in the co-ordination of rescue, referral and direct assistance to victims.

Overview of COVID-19 Pandemic in Kenya

The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic has affected thousands of lives across Kenya and globally. Without practically any advance notice or planning, all Kenyan schools closed down (following a mandatory directive by the government). Many institutions and organizations have laid off staff or instituted salary cuts due to the pandemic.  In some instances, employers have asked employees to work from home, with those who cannot work from home facing potential exposure to the coronavirus, reduced work hours or job loss.  As the Kenyan government continues to test, find more cases of COVID-19 and trace those who were in contact with infected persons, the number of COVID-19 cases has spiked significantly.  In March 30, 2020, there were 50 confirmed cases throughout Kenya with over two thousand under mandatory quarantine.   This necessitated the department of State to issue a global level 4 Health Advisory for COVID-19. Since then more than 20,000 cases have been identified with thousands being tested, traced and quarantined, and so far, over four hundred deaths reported.

When healthcare systems are stretched by efforts to contain outbreaks, care responsibilities are frequently “downloaded” onto women and girls, who usually bear responsibility for caring for ill family members and the elderly. The nationwide closure of schools further exacerbates the burden of unpaid care work on women and underage girls, who absorb the additional work of caring for children and other household chores. The underage girls also face a high risk of sexual violations (research has shown that children become more vulnerable to sexual violence when not in school) with limitations on finding readily available and sustainable interventions.

Domestic Workers have suffered a double tragedy as they suffer the usual stigma and now lack of jobs during this Covid-19 pandemic. CDTD has mounted digital services (calls, WhatsApp groups’ text messaging and social media) as all our field based activities have closed down due to the impact of lockdown measures. Our community based Trainers are continuously supporting domestic workers virtually, monitoring individual experiences and sharing COVID-19 resources.

CDTD’s shelter program, the Talia Agler Girls Shelter, which reaches, rescues, rehabilitates and reintegrates abused and trafficked girls has seen a spike in requests for shelter and associated services.   CDTD offers direct assistance to victims facing a wide array of human rights violations. Basic needs of food and shelter, medical check-ups, childcare, pregnancy care, psycho-social support, in-house tutoring, are still being provided.

The shelter is in close communication with nearby health centers for support to new referrals who need testing and monitoring during quarantine as they adhere to strict hygiene procedures. Additionally, all new cases are being isolated and quarantined for a minimum of two weeks before joining other residents.

Locally, there is scarcity of resources for organizations responding directly to the pandemic.  So far, CDTD has received limited support towards its Covid-19 response, and we are faced with the threat of further downsizing our operations, which means shutting out support to very needy girls and women who rely on us for critical services.   The little resources we had have already been spent supporting our front line teams, providing masks and sanitizers to our constituents and maintaining fair staff levels to help us respond during these challenging Covid-19 times.

How Covid-19 has affected CDTD’s ability to provide services to its beneficiaries

Government Lockdown Measures and Restrictions: The measures that the Kenyan government has taken to reduce the spread of the virus have had a major impact on our service delivery. The social distancing directives have led to the total close down of all our field activities across 10 low – income neighborhoods in Nairobi, which serves over 10,000 female Domestic Workers, refugees and migrant populations in our programs. As a service driven organization, we are unable to reach out and respond to our beneficiaries efficiently.

Lack of employment: We have placed less than 10 Domestic Workers into jobs since the first social distancing directive by the government on March 2020. This leaves most of our beneficiaries under duress to provide for their families. Our primary beneficiaries, Domestic Workers (who include young refugee women casual workers), are more likely to be employed in service sectors that have been hit hardest by social distancing measures, more likely to be on insecure and zero hours contracts and more likely to be in insecure housing situations. Single women Domestic Workers and female headed households in particular (who form 70% of our beneficiaries), are less able to afford basic necessities and access jobs in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Spike in GBV cases: There has been increased concerns with the rise in GBV cases as a result of self-isolation and loss of livelihoods. Lack of structures to support home studying during the pandemic has left school going children at risk of dropping out of school due to teenage pregnancies ( a staggering 45,000 girl pregnancies aged between 10 and 19 years have been reported within the Covid-19 period across Kenya).  There’s increased demand for shelter and related services for GBV survivors.

Closure of learning institutions – With schools closed for a long period, limited resources and glaring threats of the spread of the pandemic, we cannot intervene efficiently in these issues.CDTD sponsors trafficked and abused girls, young women and children in primary, high schools as well as in tertiary training institutions to ensure their safety and commitment to education.

Resource constraints: With over 60 full board shelter beneficiaries, unemployed Domestic Workers expecting support, heightened operational costs and a handful donor funds, CDTD’s financial resources are deeply constrained.

Constrained movement – Public transport is a serious concern for program beneficiaries’ as well as CDTD’s staff who have to go to work or engage in activities outside of the home due to hiked prices and the risk of contracting the virus. There is increased police brutality on those who do not observe curfew measures.

CDTD’s Covid-19 Responsiveness and Relief Actions

In the Covid-19 period, CDTD has;-

Distributed over 5,000 masks to CDTD’s beneficiaries at the shelter and in the community.

Spearheaded entrepreneurship training for 10 Domestic Workers Leaders and issued 100 masks to each of them to initiate small scale businesses as alternative source of livelihood

Created 10 Domestic Workers WhatsApp groups – Our 10 Domestic Workers Leaders (trained through a grant from the Global Fund for Women) have been instrumental in sharing Covid-19 experiences and accurate information in their local Domestic Workers communities.

Incepted the production of masks and sanitary pads – shelter beneficiary alumni who underwent tailoring courses through the support of One World Children’s Fund in 2019 have been empowered to produce masks for distribution to our constituents.

CDTD has joined the GBV working group (the taskforce coordinating all GBV response and interventions countrywide) and is recognized as a first responder in GBV programming.

Formed a National Shelters Network which currently hosts 38 members.  CDTD and other service providers joined together with the aim of collectively addressing emerging issues and challenges related to shelter provision and prevention of violence against women and children. So far, the Shelters Network has coordinated more than 50 referrals during the Covid19 period.

Increased awareness raising activities – CDTD has produced short documentaries on Covid19, contributed to newspaper columns on child protection issues as well as used its’ social media pages to create continued awareness and advocacy on the plight of abused and trafficked girls and women as well as victims of SGBV.

Strengthened Safeguarding measures – CDTD is committed to safeguarding its’ beneficiaries and staff during these trying times. Measures taken include; use of private transportation for staff members and enactment of social distancing measures. Additionally, all staff and program beneficiaries are provided with masks, hand sanitizers and relevant items to ensure their safety. We are championing mutual care – prioritizing compassion; taking more time (virtually) to check in with our teams, colleagues, the communities we work in; and not being afraid to model vulnerability to others.

Increased shelter staff capacity – CDTD has increased its staff load to attend to victims of GBV, human trafficking and other human rights violations during this season.

Launch of Survivor voices initiative – CDTD has started a Survivor Voices series which is geared towards amplifying the voices of survivors helping them to speak up, engage, share and access services necessary for their healing and social reintegration.

Our Appeal

CDTD is experiencing an acute shortage of funds and resources for the successful implementation of its programs and activities during this difficult Covid-19 period.  We are therefore seeking partnerships, collaborations and financial support to carry out critical activities aimed at benefitting our constituents as follows:-

Enhance the economic capacity and resilience of 10,000 Domestic Workers through entrepreneurship training and the provision of basic business kitties for small scale trading

Coordinate 10,000 Domestic Workers participation in virtual groups from where we can share and disseminate content / virtual messages on relevant topics such as Covid19 related information, Domestic Workers experiences job opportunities, useful learning materials, mentorship and personal growth content.

Produce masks and sanitary towels for distribution to 10,000 Domestic Workers and their families through collaboration with our tailoring students and their supervisors

Distribute 10,000 hand sanitizers and food packs to Domestic Workers in the communities where we work.

Provide support to the shelter program to intervene and benefit more GBV cases. Victims will be provided with shelter, medical support, counselling, sanitary products, sanitizers and vocational skills training as appropriate.

Effective and efficient coordination of programs through provision of operational costs {staff travel, communication, utilities etc.}

We continuously remain grateful to our current funding Partners