Deep in the heart of Nairobi, Mombasa, and Kisumu’s informal settlements, staff of a grassroots community organisation move from house to house distributing face masks and food items, comforting distressed community members, and offering a myriad of other direct community services.

Local grassroots organisations have emerged essential participants in the battle against Covid-19.

With volunteers drawn often from the very communities they aim to serve, these organisations have rallied family members, neighbours, friends, and well-wishers in pulling together resources.

Take Grace, for example, a member of the Women Volunteers of Peace in Kisumu County who has worked with her mother to help make homemade face masks for the vulnerable communities she serves in the Manyatta and Nyalenda slums of Kisumu. To date, Grace has distributed hundreds of face masks to vulnerable households including children, street vendors, people with disabilities, Boda Boda operators, and the elderly.

In Uthiru, a low-income peri-urban neighbourhood to the West of Nairobi, community volunteers identify vulnerable households, and deliver food rations, while linking poor households with individuals who can offer financial support to meet essential services. .

In Mombasa, Sauti ya Wanawake wa Pwani, a local organisation, is collaborating with the County Government of Mombasa to maintain a ‘situation room’ dedicated to tracking and supporting survivors of Gender-Based Violence.

Unlike many organisations, whose staff are mostly working from the comfort of their homes during the Covid-19 pandemic, local grassroots community organisations are operating on the frontlines with community-led responses to the pandemic.

Despite limited resources, these community rooted organisations have sprung into action, in a variety of ways to support vulnerable women, men, children, and youth in coping with the devastating health and socio-economic impacts of Covid-19.

The Aga Khan Development Network views civil society as a force that binds public and private activity in a common purpose.

We recognise the central role these local organisations play in the design and implementation of community initiatives, and we work closely with them in strengthening their capacity for delivering services and ensuring that they continue to have a sustainable impact.

In our Covid-19 Response plan, Aga Khan Foundation has initiated local resource mobilisation efforts, with a focus on three key areas of intervention: slowing and stopping transmission and spread; providing optimised care for all patients; and minimising impact on communities, the vulnerable, social services and economic activity.