BALANCING ACT

Tough decision: To work or go home early due to curfew

A recent report on the economic impact of Covid-19 on families in Kenya that showed that seven out of 10 families are struggling to put food on the table

In Summary
  • “I can't have my children sleeping hungry, so I have to put in all my effort in my vegetable business,” said James Wambua, a street hawker.
  • Although March's inflation marked the lowest rise in food prices since September 2020, overall inflation inched up at 5.9 per cent from February’s 5.8 per cent.
Nairobians at Kencom bus stationstage line up to board busses to Kibera, Kawangware ahead of curfew on April 21, 2021.
Nairobians at Kencom bus stationstage line up to board busses to Kibera, Kawangware ahead of curfew on April 21, 2021.
Image: Photos: CHARLENE MALWA

With the current 8pm curfew set in five counties to contain the spread of Covid-19, many Kenyans are faced with a tough decision of abiding to the curfew or ensuring they clock full working hours.

It is 7pm and the Nairobi CBD streets are filled with hawkers selling all sorts of items, from vegetables to clothes.

Even though not many Kenyans stop to purchase the items, it is evident the hawkers are keen to sell till they see clear streets.

“I can't have my children sleeping hungry, so I have to put in all my effort in my vegetable business,” said James Wambua, a street hawker.

Grace Njeri who sells avocadoes at the Nairobi bus station shares the same sentiments as Wambua.

“When Covid-19 hit the country in 2020, I lost my job and even had to sleep hungry on some nights cause of lack of funds,” says Hellen Njambi, a Nairobi resident.

Njambi struggled through most part of 2020 and luckily secured another job last December.

“My current job requires me to clock out at 6pm, I know the current curfew requires us to leave early to ensure we are not caught up, but I cannot afford to tell this to my boss as I cannot afford to be jobless again in this economy,” says Njambi.

Gladys Wangui, who operates an M-Pesa shop, closes earliest at 6pm to ensure she has carried out a good number of transactions.

“I can't afford to leave early as these will reduce my monthly earnings and with the current high cost of food it will really stretch my budget, said Wangui.

With the current high cost of living, the sentiments of those  interviewed paints a wider picture of what people are going through to make ends meet despite the curfew and lockdowns.

A recent report by the Consortium of Research on Governance (CORG) on the economic impact of Covid-19 on families in Kenya shows that that seven out of 10 families are struggling to put food on the table.

According to the report, 59.8 per cent of families skip meals to survive while 5.9 per cent rely on aid and donations.

Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja has called upon President Uhuru Kenyatta to review the curfew hours from 8 pm to 10 pm.

The new restriction measures imposed in March are expected to  have a negative effect on the  economy in the financial year starting July 1, with the growth forecast expected to drop to  5.7 per cent, according to IMF. 

The Sub Saharan Africa projections however forecast Kenya's growth will be the fastest followed by Burkina Faso which is expected to rebound to 7.5 per cent.