The novel corona virus renamed COVID-19 affected everyone in the world. The magnitude of the pandemic simply changed the normal way we lived, worked, and socialized. The pandemic exerted significant strain and multiple challenges on our programmes and activities for 2020 and those of our clients and beneficiaries. This necessitated us to adopt and establish ways in which we could respond to some of these challenges to safeguard careers, businesses and livelihoods of our staff, beneficiaries, and clients.
With the financial support of DANIDA, MESPT established a detailed Covid-19 response plan in April 2020 (https://mespt.org/covid-message-from-the-ceo/). Our drive has been to support stakeholders (staff, financial institutions, SMEs, farmers, and students in our scholarship program) to ease their struggles amidst the impact of the pandemic.
Summary of our intervention
- Cognizant of the fact that our staff are a great resource to our business, we continue to support them to work from home and slowly encourage them back to office by ensuring that the office set up is safe to minimize health risks. To achieve this, we are adhering to all government laid out preventive measures and have put up hand sanitation points and ensured social distancing in our offices. In addition, staff medical care has been prioritized and that of their families. We remain committed to making our employees feel safe, secure, and comfortable in the office environment.
- Farm Inputs to targeted farmers & technical support to SMEs - to ensure business recovery while also diversifying to emerging farming business opportunities, MESPT partnering off-takers/SMEs were also supported in the upkeep of their agronomists working with farmers to ensure their availability for continued agronomic support to farmers while also easing economic pressure on the SMEs.
Some of the SMEs working with MESPT collecting seeds from MESPT HQ and Makere Ghoroi cooperative members receiving assorted farm inputs donated by MESPT in partnership with the Tana River county government.
Small holder farmers from 6 counties were supported with seeds to get back to business and help strengthen their agricultural production systems. Seeds subsidy worth Ksh.4M was channeled through SMEs (buyers/ farm produce off-takers) in support of contracted farmers working with MESPT in various regions of the Country. The move was also to help SMEs partly recover from losses incurred because of defaults by farmers on seed inputs advanced to them hence and as a result we prevent market system disruption. The beneficiaries of this support include, Flamingo Horticulture, Frigoken Horticulture, Vert Ltd, Keitt Exporters, Vegpro Exporter, Athi Farm, Kandia, East African growers, Dynamique Horticulture, Mara Farm Horticulture, Kenya Horticulture exporters and Gong Veg Horticulture.
- Hand washing units - 230 hand washing units were distributed to aggregation centers in Embu, Meru, Kirinyaga, Makueni, Taita Taveta, Kajiado, Nakuru, Nyandarua and Kilifi counties to boost the safety of smallholder farmers during this period and beyond. This was geared towards promotion of personal and food safety.
MESPT vehicle loaded with some hand washing tanks and PPEs meant for various farmers aggregation Centers.
- In line with the National Government call to consider moratorium and extension of loan tenors, we offered structured support to several financial institutions to enhance their business recovery. We facilitated tailored Information, communication, and technology support that includes: -
- Laptops - - 3 financial institutions were supported with laptops to facilitate flexibility in working.
3 Financial institutions supported with laptops. They include, Solutions Sacco in Meru, BIMAS Microfinance in Embu, and Times U Sacco in Meru
- Tablets and airtime - to facilitate adoption of digital and virtual service delivery.
Yehu Microfinance in Mombasa was supported with 69 android tablets and Jitegemea Credit in Nairobi was supported with 30 android tablets.
- Motorbikes – to support ease of business, especially monitoring and evaluation, outreach, and collection.
Ndege Chai Sacco in Kericho and Times U Sacco in Meru receiving their motorbike.
- Personal Protective Equipment to facilitate protection against health risks. Some of the PPE items that were distributed included masks, hand sanitizers and thermo guns.
Boresha Sacco in Eldama Ravine and Tai Sacco in Kiambu county receiving PPEs.
- Office Glass Shields Barriers – We supported Eclof microfinance to install glass shield barriers in their HQ office to protect their staff by reducing the risk of Covid-19 transmission in the workplace.
Glass shields for staff desks installed at Eclof Microfinance Kenya HQ office in Nairobi.
- Support to families of students under MESPT Secondary school sponsorship programSeven (7) vulnerable families of students under MESPT Secondary School Scholarship Program were supported with food stuff, other essential items, and shopping vouchers.
1 family from Nairobi receiving food stuff and shopping vouchers at MESPT HQ during the Caravan for distribution launch.
- Wet Markets Support - We will be expanding our AgriFI programme’s scope to Wet Markets and we firmed up the implementation of enhancing food safety in selected counties wet markets. This concept is being supported with funding from European Union and Danida through the AgriFI Food Safety Programme. This agenda is backed by the fact that wet markets are prone to disease breeds and spreads. Wet markets are characterized with low levels of sanitation, weak public health systems, food handling is highly unhygienic, people’s movements and interactions are a little chaotic and waste management system is hazardous.
Representatives from KEBS, KEPHIS, AFA, DANIDA, MESPT, DVS and Ministry of Health in the meeting.
MESPT will midwife the legal and policy legislations that will establish better regulatory framework that is critical to managing wet markets in selected Counties in Kenya. We will also support physical restructuring e.g., sanitation facilities of the market and facilitate wet markets and apply sustainable tested solid waste management approaches.