(Photo credit: PHOTO | LABAN WALLOGA | NATION MEDIA GROUP)
COVID 19 pandemic has proved to be indiscriminate in the way it has invaded the world. It has not respected the world economic order of super-powers, race, religion, social or economic status of individuals. In a bid to contain the pandemic, some countries have resulted to either partial lockdown or total lockdown.
People are being advised to avoid shaking hands, wash hands frequently, self-quarantine, maintain social distance, work from home, avoid crowding and practice good hygiene.In Kenya, the COVID-19 curfew is exposing the divide between the rich and the poor thanks to unequal living conditions driven by income inequalities. Click To Tweet
Covid-19 Pandemic Exposing the Rich and the Poor Divide in Kenya
In Kenya, such measures are exposing the divide between the rich and the poor thanks to unequal living conditions driven by income inequalities.
While washing hands frequently is paramount to keeping the virus at bay, those living in informal settlements are forced to make a difficult choice; either use the limited funds they have to purchase water to keep the virus at bay or purchase food to keep hunger pangs at bay!
Be under no illusion, self-quarantine is impractical to achieve in a household of seven persons living in ten feet by ten feet room.Be under no illusion, self-quarantine is impractical to achieve in a household of seven persons living in ten feet by ten feet room. Click To Tweet
Social distancing may be the key to controlling the spread of the virus, but for anyone who uses anything labelled ‘’public’’ will attest that this is a nightmare. How are you going to keep social distance in public transportation if the matatu operators are keen on cashing in an extra coin than observing the guidelines provided? How are the matatu operators expected to adhere to guidelines which significantly reduces their earnings if the government does not put adequate measures to cushion them from the economic shocks?
With travel restrictions, there is a dawning realisation among the rich who have high affinity to seek treatment of common flu abroad that we are finally in this together. No one is going anywhere, we all must depend on our overstretched, ill equipped and run-down health facilities in the country to get us through this pandemic.There is a song that the middle class is singing, by now, it is beginning to sound like a broken record. Click To Tweet
The so-called middle class in Kenya are having a field day shouting their voice hoarse to persuade everyone to stay at home. Once again, the middle class has proved not only to be insensitive but also ignorant of the life of common mwanainchi. They have stockpiled their fridge with food, they have bought everything and anything from the supermarket in the name of panic buying without a care in the world.
There is a song that the middle class is singing, by now, it is beginning to sound like a broken record, ‘’People should work from home!’’. They forget that the single lady who hawks vegetables on the street cannot work from home! They conveniently forget that the casual labourers in down-town cannot work remotely. They are ignorant of the fact that casual labourers do not expect a cheque at the end of the month like they do but must work every single day to earn their daily upkeep.
Curfew is the new norm in TownIn this country, it seems like it is a crime to be poor. The middle class were glued to their television sets eating popcorns and celebrating on social media how the poor are being clobbered by the police. Click To Tweet
Anyone found outside after 7 PM and before 5 AM is breaking the law. The police have taken it upon themselves to deal with such. The video clips of brutal police force clobbering unarmed helpless women at the ferry in Mombasa are very disturbing; it is disturbing that such acts of police brutality are not condemned particularly by the middle class who should know better. The middle class are still wondering why those women were found out after curfew hours.
In this country, it seems like it is a crime to be poor. The middle class were glued to their television sets eating popcorns and celebrating on social media how the poor are being clobbered by the police.
COVID 19 presents a great opportunity for us to reflect on the words of Tony Atkinson.
“Inequality of outcome among today’s generation is the source of unfair advantage received by the next generation.
If we are concerned about inequality of opportunity tomorrow, we need to be concerned about inequality of outcome today”.Anthony B. Atkinson
This country is going to make progress when every citizen has a chance to better living standards because this is what development and economic growth is all about. The rich and the middle class must be reminded that one cannot get healthy and wealthy on their own. Sustainable progress is not about individuals, it is about the society.
About the Author: Omondi C. Paul
Omondi C. Paul is the Technical Lead, Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability, Learning and Knowledge management at Tax Justice Network Africa.