Good Neighbours Global Partnership Centre in collaboration with Hankuk University of Foreign Studies researched the psychological and socio-economic impact of Covid-19 on children and adults living in impoverished regions in Kenya and Zambia. The Covid-19 pandemic has permanently altered daily life, affecting millions of families around the world and in particular, children. Movement restrictions, business closures and job losses have left many parents feeling worried and stressed. The added pressures of consecutive lockdowns and home schooling has further exacerbated the situation, negatively impacting the mental health of children.
The mixed-method research, which included Good Neighbours survey data from Kenya and Zambia, focus groups and key informant interviews, sheds light on the psychological impact of Covid-19 on children in these two countries. The research finds that a significant drop in family incomes combined with the psychological distress brought on by home-schooling and parenting responsibilities during lockdown, has negatively impacted the mental health of families and children.
The research also shows that Good Neighbours child sponsorship and community development programmes have contributed to improving the overall well-being of children impacted by the pandemic by enhancing their sense of safety through counselling and institutional support. The research also shows that children’s involvement in Good Neighbours Programmes correlates with higher performance on the Hope Scale which means that children are better prepared and more resilient at overcoming challenges at the individual, community and socio-structural level.
Case study 1: Good Neighbours response for sponsored children and vulnerable groups in Kenya
Since its establishment in 1995, Good Neighbours Kenya has implemented community development projects supporting a total of 7,120 sponsored children in 2020 alone. The school closures which lasted from March 2020 to January 2021 affected 17 million children. The sudden disruption in education increased the risks of child abuse, adolescent pregnancy, and child labour.
Good Neighbours Kenya responded to these challenges by monitoring the children’s situation and counselling 7,109 individuals. Urban CDPs located near Nairobi, where the number of COVID-19 confirmed cases were high, conducted regular telephone consultations. Where feasible, rural CDPs visited each household to check the health and living conditions of children and parents and provided COVID-19 prevention guidelines.
Good Neighbours Kenya also provided children and families with hygiene kits, supported livelihoods, and provided workbooks to contribute to closing the educational gap aggravated by COVID-19. A total of 32,334 people across Kenya received Good Neighbours hygiene kits, while 10,190 individuals received training on COVID-19 awareness and prevention.
Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, Good Neighbours has established the Good Neighbours COVID-19 Response Framework organised into 3 stages: Preparedness, Response and Recovery . The framework aims to protect the most vulnerable and promote community-based resilience.
Case study 2: Good Neighbours response for sponsored children and vulnerable groups in Zambia
Good Neighbours Zambia was established in 2012 and as of 2020, it supported 5,015 children. School closures in Zambia have left countless children experiencing educational disruption putting girls at increased risk of pregnancy, sexual violence and early marriage.
Good Neighbours Zambia helped 5,001 individuals through household visits and counselling, provided 32,220 people with emergency hygiene kits, distributed food supply kits to 17,720 people and provided COVID-19 prevention education to 6,935 local people.
To address the disruption to children’s schooling, Good Neighbours Zambia provided secure digital cards containing core subject textbooks and radio education through local radio stations to senior students (7th to 9th graders).
To improve programme effectiveness and warrant the provision of sustainable assistance, Good Neighbours will continue to invest in community programmes and work locally to support families to achieve long-term resilience. Good Neighbours will also expand its advocacy activities as well as build on the existing network with partner countries and international organisations.
In this regard, Good Neighbours protects vulnerable social groups and enhances community resilience, simultaneously implementing projects to establish communities where everyone coexists in harmony during these unprecedented times through innovation and cooperation.