KFS RESPONSES TO THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

Benedetta Wasonga 

 

The COVID-19 pandemic reached Kenya in March 2020 with the initial cases reported in the capital city Nairobi and in the coastal area Mombasa County. The pandemic was declared a threat to the people of Kenya by the President His Excellency Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta in a Presidential address on the Coronavirus Pandemic thereby issuing health and economic guidelines to curb the spread of the disease. This therefore necessitated the Service to castigate the measures in the implementation of the given guidelines in its service delivery as we adopt our work to respond to these new challenges – both in the immediate and longer-term – while ensuring that we continue to work towards our vision of an internationally recognized organization of excellence in knowledge based sustainable forest resource development, conservation and management..

 

All staff members are required to work from home except for the essential officers named in a circular signed by the CCF, Mr. Julius Kamau. All categories of workers are required to offer services virtually except those mentioned in the circular namely the Chief Conservator of Forests, Senior Deputy Chief Conservator of Forests, Commandant ENCOM, Deputy Chief Conservator of Forests, Chief Administrative Officer and all ENCOM Staff due to the nature of the pandemic to avoid staff members getting exposed to the disease and to avoid congestion in the offices. Field officers include The Principal KFC, Heads of Conservancies, Ecosystem Conservators, Station Forest Manager and Nursery attendants.

 

An ad-hoc Corona Virus Response Committee is in place to monitor and guide the Service on the matters of the Coronavirus both in the field and headquarters operations. All meetings, workshops, trainings and seminars are suspended until further notice

Sanitizers, masks and hand washing points have been installed within the KFS Headquarter compound, field officers and forest areas. Members of the public visiting forests are required to adhere to the safety requirements issued by the National Emergency Response Committee on Corona and subsequent safety requirements issued by the Kenya Forest Service.  All persons visiting forest areas must wear face masks must maintain social distance of at least 1.5M at all times. In line with Government directives, all forests shall open to the public from 7 AM and forest gates close at 4.30 PM to allow visitors reach home within applicable time limitations. They must also abide by all directives issued by the National Emergency Response Committee and comply with instructions issued by those in charge of these Facilities. 

 

Guidelines  issued by the Ministry of Health and Government which include avoid overcrowding, handshakes, spitting etc must be adhered to. Visitors are required to clean their hands and sanitize as they enter and leave the forest.

 

What is COVID-19

COVID-19 is a contagious disease caused by a new coronavirus that was first discovered in December 2019. Coronaviruses are a family of viruses known to cause respiratory infections . According to the World Health Organization (WHO) Report 2020, there is no known vaccine yet to prevent the infection of COVID-19, as well as no specific treatment for the disease, other than managing the symptoms and probably learning how to live with it. By March 2020, more than 200 countries had COVID-19 reported cases, and the WHO reported that there were more than 2,000,000  cases all over the world. More than 200,000 people have died and the numbers continue to rise exponentially. Additionally world health experts and African governments have expressed concern at the rate of spread of COVID-19 and the probability for more than 2 million deaths in sub-Saharan Africa if no urgent action is taken.

 

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