Impact of Covid-19 on women workers in the horticulture sector in Kenya
This report (PDF) of Hivos aimed to establish the impact of Covid-19 on women workers in the horticulture sector, with special focus on employment status, living conditions, shifts in household expenses and outlook for the future. The horticulture sector in Kenya is probably one of the worst hit by Covid-19, with less than 10 percent of its normal operations. A rapid assessment indicates that food security is a major concern mainly due to job losses and increasing food prices. Other findings included the massive layoffs of temporary and seasonal workers and permanent workers sent on unpaid leave, sabotaging women workers’ livelihoods and well-being. Women workers who have lost their jobs have intensified unpaid care work, further compounded by homeschooling. Prices of essential commodities have gone up against diminishing wages. Women workers are struggling with soaring food and house rent bills. Directives on containment of movement pose a starvation risk, forcing women to compromise their safety in search for food. The waning job security agonizes women workers and results in anxiety and mental anguish. Recommendations towards government are: 1) Transparency and accountability on utilization of money freed through salary cuts. 2) Protect labour force and economy through inclusive and sustained interventions. 3) Mass testing in flower companies, provision of free quarantine services, treatment and psychosocial support. 4) Expansion of the government’s cash transfer to workers in precarious employments. 5) Economic rescue and stimulus packages to boost Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises. 6) Control of food prices and essential commodities to ease consumption burden. 7) Mass production and free distribution of personal protective equipment to workers. Recommendations towards civil society organisations are: 1) Dialogue within sector for harmonized, inclusive and comprehensive responses. 2) Establish fund basket for food packages, cash transfers, etc. to support strained workers. 3) Bridge information deficits of workers. 4) Lobbying and advocacy on reforms to ensure governments remain accountable in safeguarding human and labour rights. 5) Support youth and women in rural economic livelihoods.