As COVID-19 continues to spread through sub-Saharan Africa, it’s shining a spotlight on previously existing social issues that are likely to worsen the pandemic’s impact. For instance, in Kenya, income inequality is extreme: The top 0.1% earn more than the bottom 99.9%, and an estimated 36.1% of the population live on less than US $1.90 a day. In the absence of a strong social safety net, income inequality translates into pervasive challenges across all facets of life. According to a 2014 survey, among the poorest 20% of households, over 50% reported lacking food or the means to purchase food for their families on a weekly basis, 59% did not have access to water or soap in their homes, and less than 10% of parents completed elementary school.
COVID-19 is expected to exacerbate these inequalities. As of 2014, the informal sector comprised an estimated 83% of employment in Kenya. This represents millions of small-scale traders, craftspeople and entrepreneurs whose ability to operate is threatened by restrictions put in place to slow the spread of the virus. The 2.5 million residents of Nairobi’s slums, accounting for 60% of the city’s population but only 6% of its land – will be hardest hit. Research suggests that COVID-19 could be up to 10 times deadlier in such settings…………………………………………………..