If you look at traffic in Nairobi or go to a market in many parts of Kenya, you might think that COVID-19 is no longer a major problem. Public spaces seem as crowded and bustling as ever. But has the country really, fully recovered from this crisis?
In rural Kenya, the pandemic has posed serious problems whose impacts are ongoing, particularly for women. I recently spoke with Esther (a pseudonym), a small-scale farmer in Nyandarua County northwest of Nairobi about her experiences. Esther grows vegetables and potatoes on a quarter of an acre farm and sells the produce at a nearby market, five kilometers from her homestead. “I am 42, I have three children, three boys, and I live with my husband,” Esther said. “In 2020 and 2021, I had problems buying inputs and selling my crops due to lockdowns, transportation problems, and other issues. My husband’s small business was affected by COVID-19 too, as he could not capture the profits like before. It was a period of hardship; I lost income and we had to eat whatever we could find on our farm; at times we could only eat one meal in a day.”