About 200,000 people live in Kakuma camp, one of the largest in the world, set up in 1992 and managed by UNHCR, the UN agency that deals with refugees. The precarious living conditions and overcrowding make physical distancing and compliance with hygiene rules almost impossible to comply with. Water is supplied through public pumps and there is only one hospital across the field, where five doctors work.
For this reason, in the last two months the ten journalists of the Kanere editorial staff have published information and updates on social networks and on the newspaper distributed in the field to raise awareness among the inhabitants of the safety rules to be respected to avoid the spread of the new coronavirus. They also tried to counter the fake news circulating about the virus, for example that it can be treated by drinking an herbal tea or that affects only some people.
But on May 25, a man who returned to the camp from the capital Nairobi tested positive for covid-19 and was immediately transferred to an isolation center.
The containment measures and the night curfew have altered life inside the Kakuma camp, Al Jazeera says. And Kanere’s reporters have adapted to the new circumstances. The newspaper, whose name is an abbreviation of Kakuma News Reflector, was launched in 2008 and people from the various ethnic groups who live in the field work on it, thus managing to give voice to many different needs.
Thanks to the donation of a German NGO, Kanere managed to guarantee news coverage even during the lockdown, in collaboration with a local radio. The interviews take place mainly via WhatsApp, while a white jeep crosses the field every day, spreading messages in various languages on the importance of prevention and hygiene to fight the virus.