An estimated 300,000 people in Kenya have lost their jobs since the first case of coronavirus was reported in the country in the mid-March this year, according to government officials.
While giving the daily Covid-19 briefings on May 29, the Ministry of Health Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Dr. Rashid Aman said the job losses have as a result affected over three million livelihoods in the country.
He said each or every person who has lost their job directly or indirectly affects at least ten other people. The number of those facing job losses is likely to grow as government continues to maintain measures to control the spread of the virus such as banning of all gatherings, closure of entertainment spots and maintenance of a dusk to dawn curfew.
The number reported is that of workers in formal sectors excluding employees on unpaid leave and those who have to suffer pay cuts.
The most affected sectors are transport, aviation, hospitality and tourism, manufacturing, wholesale and trade, agriculture and the informal sector.
Julius Karano, an event organizer and comedian in Narok town has had to adjust his way of life and is now a renowned ambassador for Covid-19.
Karano, famously known as Ole Menye by his fans is one of the leading event organizers in Narok with services ranging from tent hiring and chair hiring, catering, public address system, decoration and entertainments.
Ole Menye told KNA that he has three employees who he pays a monthly income of Sh. 10,000 each and often engages other casual labourers when he has a lot of work load.
“My job is well paying especially during holidays when there are several occasions. In some good months, I earned a profit of over Sh. 150,000,” said Ole Menye.
However, things have fast changed since the outbreak of Coronavirus in the country that completely overhauled the way of doing things.
“When the department of health gave the directives to avert the new virus, I knew that I had to do something else as my job was severely affected,” said Ole Menye.
He said when the government announced the banning of all social events; he received calls from his clients on cancellation of their events.
“This alone was too heavy on me since the business was my major source of income. Over five customers cancelled the orders they had placed in one day and I had to return some of the money that I had already been paid,” he recalls with sadness.
The talented comedian now roams around the busy town calling out on residents to follow the guidelines set to curb the spread of Coronavirus.
He does this voluntarily hoping that the virus will be contained someday and a sense of normalcy returns.
Ole Menye said,” Narok being a major tourist center and neigbouring Tanzania, there is need to educate people on how to keep the virus a bay as many people from different backgrounds flock our town daily.”
The 36-year-old man believes in the saying that ‘forward ever and backwards never’ and is determined to sensitize as many people as possible on how to avert the deadly disease.
“In a day I am able to reach up to 300 residents even in the remote areas around the county. Though it is challenging, I am determined to educate them all on the new deadly Covid-19,” said Ole Menye.
Ole Menye only asked that he may get well-wishers to support his good course so that the virus may be contained. He has also asked artists to come out in large numbers and help in creating awareness to the society.
“Most of the artists do not have a lot of work during this season when all manner of gatherings, weddings have been banned as bars and clubs have been closed. I request the National Government to remember local artists in villages who too volunteer in creating awareness about the ongoing pandemic,” added Ole Menye.
George Gitau, one of his photographers, lauded the efforts of Ole Menye saying he managed to recollect himself even after business went down.
“Our business is down now. But what I love about Ole Menye is that he has not given up in educating people on the hope that everything will go back to normalcy,” said Gitau.
Another Narok resident Rachael Wangui praised Ole Menye for his efforts in sensitizing the society about the novel virus that is fast spreading in the country.
“Our businesses have been adversely affected by the pandemic, but Ole Menye did not turn back instead he chose to move from street to street teaching us how to stay safe,” says Ms. Wangui.
By Ann Salaton