Kenya: Red Cross donates materials for prisons to build quarantine facilities and improve infrastructure amidst threat of COVID-19

23 April 2020
Kenya: Red Cross donates materials for prisons to build quarantine facilities and improve infrastructure amidst threat of COVID-19

Nairobi (Kenya Red Cross/ICRC) – The Kenya Red Cross and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) today donated construction materials to the Kenya Prison Service to be used by prisons across the country to make infrastructure improvements to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

"We must move quickly to implement a comprehensive plan to prevent the spread of coronavirus within our vital correctional facilities," said Hon. Dr Fred Matiang'i, Cabinet Secretary and Minister of Interior and Coordination of National Government in Kenya. "These efforts are essential for the health and safety of 54,000 inmates and 26,000 Kenya Prison Services staff and their families."

The donation will be shared with 129 prisons for men, women and juveniles and includes supplies such as cement, iron-sheeting, timber, pipes, and tools like saws and hammers. The supplies will allow prison construction teams to improve overall living conditions, including infrastructure vital in preventing the spread of COVID-19 such as water supply and medical facilities.

"While the impact of this pandemic is global and does not discriminate anyone, we know there are groups that are more vulnerable and require urgent attention," said Dr Asha Mohammed, Secretary-General of the Kenya Red Cross. "It would be devastating if COVID-19 got inside our prisons."

Additionally, 23 prisons will receive supplies to build quarantine facilities where new arrivals can stay.

"Prisoners are among the most vulnerable to disease outbreaks, and COVID-19 is a real threat to prison health," said Olivier Dubois, the ICRC's head of delegation in Nairobi. "The quarantine and screening facilities that these materials will make possible are vital in helping to prevent the virus from entering a prison. It will allow for people entering the prison system to be safely isolated before they are moved inside and in contact with the wider population."

The construction supplies are part of a wider effort by the Kenya Red Cross, ICRC, and Kenya Prison Services to equip prisons against COVID-19. The effort has also included establishing medical protocols for COVID-19, the distribution of 60,000 pieces of soap, hygiene and protective equipment, and the setting up of infection prevention measures at the entrances of prisons such as handwashing and temperature checks. The Kenya Red Cross is also offering phone calls to inmates to keep in touch with loved ones as family visits are suspended in the pandemic.

"The impact of the unrelenting COVID-19 virus is still unfolding," said Wycliffe Ogalo, Kenya's Commissioner of Prisons. "The building and plumbing materials will help us renovate sanitation facilities inside our country's prisons—a crucial step in achieving the basic hygiene standards needed to ward off the pandemic."

For further information, please contact:

Kenya Red Cross
Peter Abwao, KRCS, +254 711 590 911

Anne Kilimo, ICRC Nairobi, +254 722 202 039