Interfaith Women Network on COVID-19 Pandemic: Baringo County

 “Every individual has a role to play for the betterment of our nation.” – Sunday Adelaja

Every position and opportunity that one is given is a platform to use to improve the lives of the people around them and an opportunity to have an impact on the society. Sometimes it takes a woman to hold and shape the society. The numbers on COVID-19 have been on the raise and in its wake, devastating people’s lives; it has affected every single aspect of our economy, social and spiritual sectors.

Inter-Religious Council of Kenya, women of faith network in Baringo in partnership with Diakonia had a two-day sensitization activity in Baringo County; Kabarnet, and Marigat towns. Marigat is a town where people from all walks of life come to meet; whether it is people from Timboroa (which is partly a very dry area) or, East Pokot, they come to trade and visit. It is generally a central place for Baringo residents. Also despite the no cessation movement in and out of the Counties people from Nairobi still sneak in Marigat town to buy Watermelons for trade in Nairobi. Therefore this is majorly a potential hot spot for the virus. The town of Kabarnet is where people from Elgeyo Markwet go to buy foodstuff which means it is a meeting point for people from different areas thus the choice of towns for the Baringo women of faith to create awareness.

On 1st and 2nd July the women of Baringo County took up banners, posters and a public address system and went to the streets. They moved around the market places, streets and stopped people in the streets to enlighten them on the importance of following the directives given by the Ministry of health. It has been almost four months since the pandemic was announced in Kenya; and despite the increase of numbers in the country people have relaxed on obeying the guidelines as stipulated thus the need to keep on creating awareness in communities.

“No other group has done any sensitization activity and it is a major step for the faith community especially women of faith network in Baringo to reach out to the people and create awareness on COVID-19.

The Women of faith work closely with the County government and on this particular activity, the town administrator was at the forefront to commend the women on the great work that they were doing.

“No other group has done any sensitization activity and it is a major step for the faith community especially women of faith network in Baringo to reach out to the people and create awareness on COVID-19. It has increased visibility of the network and at the same time created a safe place for our community through teaching them how to follow the guidelines and directives as given by the government and empowering them,” said Veronicah, Baringo Chairlady Interfaith Network.

She added that, “the spacing factor is not majorly adhered to among the community. There is observance of the other guidelines but spacing seemed like a forgotten aspect which the women stressed on while sensitizing the people of Baringo.”

The Chairlady also noted some misconceptions that they addressed during this activity, example the misconception that one can only get this disease from a stranger and not a family member or someone they know, or others it was the issue of stigmatization and phobia. A small town in Kabarnet 10KM from the main town, the mere mention of the pandemic, children took to their heels to hide in the safety of their houses. The pandemic has instilled fear among the communities and that is the narrative that these people in this town know therefore it raises the need for more avenues and platforms of creating awareness.

Women Leaders are key actors in society and have a great role to play in shaping society’s future. It is essential for women to raise their voices and help in propelling society in the right direction.

By Mary N. Ndulili

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