Preprint—COVID-19 related knowledge, attitudes, practices and needs of households in informal settlements in Nairobi, Kenya
Objective: Urban slums are at high risk of COVID-19 transmission due to the lack of basic housing, water, and sanitation, and overcrowding. No systematic surveys of slum households’ experiences exist to date. Methods: A mobile phone knowledge, attitudes, and practices survey was conducted March 30-31, 2020. Participants were sampled from two study cohorts across five urban slums in Nairobi, Kenya. Findings: 2,009 individuals (63% female) participated. Knowledge of fever and cough as COVID-19 symptoms was high, but only 42% listed difficulty breathing. Most (83%) knew anyone could be infected; younger participants had lower perceived risk. High risk groups were correctly identified (the elderly - 64%; those with weak immune systems - 40%) however, 20% incorrectly stated children. Handwashing and using hand sanitizer were known prevention methods, though not having a personal water source (37%) and hand sanitizer being too expensive (53%) were barriers. Social distancing measures were challenging as 61% said this would risk income. A third worried about losing income, only 26% were concerned about infecting others if themselves sick. Government TV ads and short message service (SMS) were the most common sources of COVID-19 information and considered trustworthy (by > 95%) but were less likely to reach less educated households. Conclusion: Knowledge of COVID-19 is high; significant challenges for behavior change campaigns to reach everyone with contextually appropriate guidance remain. Government communication channels should continue with additional efforts to reach less educated households. A strategy is necessary to facilitate social distancing, handwashing and targeted distributions of cash and food.
Austrian, Karen, Jessie Pinchoff, James B. Tidwell, Corinne White, Timothy Abuya, Beth Kangwana, Rhoune Ochako, John Wanyungu, Eva Muluve, Faith Mbushi, Daniel Mwanga, Mercy Nzioki, and Thoai Ngo. 2020. "COVID-19 related knowledge, attitudes, practices and needs of households in informal settlements in Nairobi, Kenya [preprint]," Bulletin of the World Health Organization (published online, 20 April).
Responding to the COVID-19 Pandemic