Safe Hands Kenya scales up mass sanitation drive against COVID-19 to reach 2 million Kenyans

Alliance of Kenyan companies and community organisations expands free soap, hand-washing stations, face masks, public spraying programmes and behaviour change campaign nationwide

Safe Hands Kenya , a mission-driven alliance of Kenyan companies and community organisations is scaling up its mass sanitation drive to combat COVID-19. 1.25 million people have been reached over the past two months in Nairobi and the alliance is on track to reach 2 million people by the end of June. 87 tonnes of locally produced soap and 1500 locally manufactured handwashing stations have already been distributed, while 500,000 locally manufactured masks are being distributed. 

Safe Hands is prioritising activities for those most in need – those in informal settlements, where social distancing and other recommended approaches to curbing the spread of COVID-19 are nearly impossible asks. The diversity of the alliance is the key to its ability to mobilise at speed, pilot multiple intervention programmes, iterate swiftly and achieve scale. Safe Hands Kenya is composed of over 30 private sector and community actors with strong established networks, credibility and trust within the target communities. Founding coalition members Dalberg and KOKO Networks have been instrumental in catalysing and driving Safe Hands Kenya activities, donating substantial time and resources to launching the effort.

Andrew Waititu, CEO of Safe Hands Kenya noted, “The actions up and down the Safe Hands Kenya supply chain are spurring economic activity and acting as a vital stimulus for Kenyan families working within local manufacturing and supply chains. The Dandora public spaces disinfectant campaign has created 300 temporary jobs, the Mega Apparel factory is engaging 140 people to make masks and we have engaged local artisans and tradespeople to assist in the manufacture of handwashing stations. It is critical to keep as many people in work as possible and to enable skills development and training.” 

The alliance has built a geospatial demand and supply allocation map, using several layers of data to target with precision, and partners distribute products using IOT-enabled technologies. The immediate provision of the tools for rapid mass sanitationaccompanied by a highly creative behaviour change campaign to motivate people to use them effectively, is the most effective way to keep people safe and society functioning. 

The alliance’s approach to product design and distribution is also informed by human-centred design principles to maximise the rate of adoption. The behaviour change campaign – Tiba Ni Sisi (Swahili for “We are the Cure”) – is designed to capture people’s imaginations and pay public health dividends long beyond the COVID-19 pandemic by  improving general hygiene practices, with concomitant benefits for other sanitation-related diseases and deaths.  

Charles Gachanga Gichonge, CEO of Dandora Transformation League, added “Dandora has been amongst the most vulnerable areas in Nairobi city. For the last 2 months SHK and DTL have managed to keep Covid-19 at bay. So far, so good!“

Dandora community member and chairlady of Pink Court Monicah Ningari commented “We are glad that Safe Hands Kenya have brought us these hand washing stations. They have helped society, in particular children and mothers.  We are praying they bring us even more stations because they are helping us in fighting coronavirus.”

Additional Safe Hands chapters are now up and running in Tanzania and Ethiopia. Safe Hands Kenya is creating an open-source operations manual to enable organisations exploring how to set up similar alliances to accelerate their speed to market as a demonstration of its commitment to being a learning, sharing organisation.

Safe Hands Kenya is an alliance of private companies and community organisations that has joined together to provide essential products and services, like hand washing and public sanitation services, for free to all Kenyans as a first line of defence against COVID-19.

The alliance includes technology-based distribution companies, input suppliers, manufacturers, media houses and community organisations and has assembled a full-time project team that includes experts across supply chains, user experience and behavioural change. All members have pledged to uphold three key principles: 1) zero margin: this is for impact, not profit; 2) speed is critical: every day counts; and 3) last-mile saturation: we leave no-one behind.

*Safe Hands Kenya

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