By Sharon Atieno

In a bid to combat COVID-19, Safe Hands Kenya, an alliance of Kenyan companies and community organizations, is scaling up its mass sanitation drive to reach 2 million Kenyans by the end of June with free soap, handwashing stations, face masks, public spraying programmes and behavior change campaign.

The alliance, composed of over 30 private sector and community actors, focuses on those living in informal settlements where it is almost impossible to attain the recommended measures of curbing the coronavirus such as social distancing. It has reached 1.25 million people in Nairobi and is on track to reach its target.

So far, 87 tonnes of locally produced soap and 1500 locally manufactured handwashing stations have already been distributed, while 500,000 locally manufactured masks are being distributed.

Founding coalition members Dalberg and KOKO Networks have been active in catalyzing and driving Safe Hands Kenya activities, donating substantial time and resources to launching the effort.

Andrew Waititu, CEO of Safe Hands Kenya in a press statement noted that the actions up and down the Safe Hands Kenya supply chain are spurring economic activity and acting as a vital stimulus for Kenyan families working within local manufacturing and supply chains.

“The Dandora public spaces disinfectant campaign has created 300 temporary jobs, the Mega Apparel factory is engaging 140 people to make masks and we have engaged local artisans and trades people to assist in the manufacture of handwashing stations. It is critical to keep as many people in work as possible and to enable skills development and training,” he notes.

According to Charles Gachanga Gichonge, CEO of Dandora Transformation League, while applauding the efforts by the Alliance, he added that Dandora has been amongst the most vulnerable areas in Nairobi city but for the last two months SHK and DTL have managed to keep COVID-19 at bay.

“We are glad that Safe Hands Kenya has brought us these hand washing stations. They have helped society, in particular children and mothers.  We are praying they bring us even more stations because they are helping us in fighting coronavirus,” commented Monica Ningari, Dandora community member and chairlady of Pink Court.

In addition, the alliance has built a geospatial demand and supply allocation map, using several layers of data to target with precision, and partners distribute products using IOT-enabled technologies. 

Human-centred design principles inform the alliance’s approach to product design and distribution in order to capitalize on the rate of adoption. The behavior change campaign- Tiba Ni Sisi meaning We are the Cure, uses such principle and seeks to pay public health dividends even during post-COVID-19 pandemic by improving general hygiene practices with related benefits for other sanitation –related illnesses and deaths.

Despite Safe Hands chapters already running in Tanzania and Ethiopia, Safe Hands Kenya is creating an open-source operations manual to enable organizations exploring how to set up similar alliances to accelerate their speed to market as a demonstration of its commitment to being a learning, sharing organization.