Environment & Urbanization

World leading environmental and urban studies journal

Amplifying Grassroots COVID-19 Responses in Kenya

Wangui Kimari, Joseph Kimani, Rodgers Otieno, Alice Sverdlik and Jackie Waithaka




The pandemic has led to rising precarity and has exacerbated several human rights violations in Nairobi’s informal settlements, including unemployment, food insecurity, sexual and gender-based violence, police brutality and other socioeconomic concerns. Grassroots groups have collaborated to address these challenges by developing arts-based strategies, mutual care and bottom-up knowledge generation. This project has explored these community-led responses to COVID-19 in Nairobi’s informal settlement of Mathare and asked how the pandemic may encourage more equitable development trajectories to address multiple risks. The initiative has generated valuable risk data from Mathare to inform future interventions, while simultaneously strengthening relations with local decision makers and other grassroots organisations.

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