In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, RefugePoint is taking steps to protect our employees, those we serve, and the communities in which we work in Kenya and in dozens of countries across Africa.
Last week, our headquarters staff based in Cambridge, MA, began working remotely in an effort to reduce community spread. We are carefully tracking the developments in Kenya and across Africa and creating response plans with the health, safety, and protection of both refugee clients and staff in mind.
On Sunday, Uhuru Kenyatta, Kenya’s President, announced national school closures and other measures to combat the coronavirus in the wake of the country’s first confirmed cases. Refugees often don’t have access to the information and resources that they need.
RefugePoint plays a critical role in filling that gap in Nairobi. Over many years, we have built trust with refugee communities there, and we’ve developed an invaluable communications infrastructure, through which we share vital information. RefugePoint’s Community Navigators, who are refugees themselves, are trained to deliver crucial public health information to their communities throughout Nairobi. Our staff in Nairobi are in touch with clients through outreach and bulk SMS messages to provide critical information about hygiene, handwashing, and resources. Since our founding, RefugePoint has reached over 52,000 people with critical health-related information. Today, the infrastructure we’ve built is more important than ever.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 is not the only threat that refugees in Kenya are facing. Triggered by climate change, desert locust swarms, the worst seen in living memory, are devouring food crops and creating an unprecedented threat to food security. Refugees, and the urban communities in which they live, are highly vulnerable at this moment as prices shoot up and businesses slow down.
We meet and serve people during their most hopeless moments. For many, right now is one of those times. Please consider supporting us so we can stand alongside refugees, provide vital public health information, and protect lives.