CRISIS

Covid leaves Nyamira families struggling to put food on the table

Most areas have been hit hard by the corona crisis and low-income families find it difficult to eke a living.

In Summary

• Those whose businesses thrived at night have had grapple with the reduced hours, thanks to the nationwide curfew.

• The tough economic times have put many residents out of business. 

Nyamira county commissioner Amos Mariba, Governor John Nyagarama (second right) and other county officials are shown around an isolation ward by Health CEC Douglas Bosire in June, 2020.
Nyamira county commissioner Amos Mariba, Governor John Nyagarama (second right) and other county officials are shown around an isolation ward by Health CEC Douglas Bosire in June, 2020.
Image: ALVIN RATEMO

The struggle against the economic fallout of Covid-19 has become part of the daily routine for many Nyamira households.

Most areas have been hit hard by the crisis and the low-income families find it difficult to eke a living. They say getting a single meal is a tall order.

Jane Kemunto, who owns a shop in Nyamira town, told the Star the tough economic times have put many people out of business. The number of customers reduced significantly and some traders had no option but to close up shop.

"We do not have any other source to depend on. It is only our business that can feed us and that is where we depend on for our living,” she said on Thursday.

Those whose businesses thrived at night have had grapple with the reduced hours, thanks to the nationwide curfew. The situation has never been worse than it is, they say. The cry reverberates across the county and nearly across all sectors of the economy. 

"We are highly affected by the curfew imposed by the government. We cannot operate beyond curfew time. Usually, we have customers who come to our shops and places of business beyond 9pm but we can't get them now because they will be at their homes obeying the government directives,” said Jared Matara, a shopkeeper in Nyamira town.

Matatu operators hope the government will review the curfew order so they can resume their operations until late hours.

“We will suffer as our business is highly affected by the pandemic. We are now carrying half the number of passengers we usually carry in our PSVs. At the same time, we cannot operate beyond 9pm for fear of being caught up during the curfew. We hope our government will consider extending the curfew time so our families do not suffer,” said Jared, a PSV operator on the Nyamira-Kericho route.

A survey conducted by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) in May 2020 indicates that the labour participation rate in the country has fallen significantly as a result of the pandemic.  

Data from World Bank shows that in 2019 Kenya had a labour force participation rate of 75 per cent. This rate fell to just 56.8 per cent in April 2020. 

According to the KNBS survey, the percentage of the population in active employment, whether informal or formal, has fallen to 65.3 per cent of men and 48.8 per cent of women.

The reduction has been caused by job losses in both the informal and formal sectors. The virus has disrupted the flow of revenues and limited the supply and demand for goods and services, pushing employers to use different coping mechanisms to stay afloat. Some have had to downsize their staff by sacking some workers or sending others on unpaid leave.

 

Edited by F'Orieny