COVID on Kenya’s frontlines: Community-led solutions

Thursday, April 30, 2020


As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads to Africa, community leaders are driving outbreak tracking and preparedness efforts. The Aspen Global Innovators Group spoke with two entrepreneurs working to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Kenya who are providing clean water, protective equipment, food, and more in some of the world’s most vulnerable communities. The conversation was moderated by Peggy Clark, Executive Director of the Aspen Global Innovators Group.

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Kennedy Odede

Founder & CEO, Shining Hope for Communities

Kennedy is one of Africa’s best- known community organizers and social entrepreneurs. Kennedy lived for twenty- three of his thirty-three years in the Kibera Slum, the largest slum in Africa, where he experienced the devastating realities of life in extreme poverty first hand. Although he was entirely informally educated, Kennedy received a full scholarship to Wesleyan University, becoming one of Kibera’s first to receive an education from an American liberal arts institution.

Kennedy was awarded 2010 Echoing Green Fellowship and was named to FORBES “30 under 30 lists” for top Social Entrepreneurs in 2014. He won the 2010 Dell Social Innovation Competition and is a member of the Clinton Global Initiative. His work has been featured by President Bill Clinton, Madonna, Beyonce, and on multiple occasions by Nicholas Kristof in The New York Times and his book A Path Appears. Kennedy’s own writing has appeared on the op-ed pages of The New York Times, CNN and Project Syndicate. Kennedy previously served as the youth co-chair for the United Nations International Commission for Financing of Global Education Opportunities. He currently serves on the Wangari Maathai Foundation board and Chaired the Varkey Foundation Alliance for Girls’ Education.

Ahmed “Kura” Omar

Co-Founder, Kenya Drylands Education Fund & The BOMA Project

Ahmed Kura Omar is a native of Northern Kenya and has over 10 years experience in sustainable community development. He is a community mobilizer and a leader. Kura founded and ran the BOMA Project focusing on Women’s Economic Empowerment for 10 years and later with a friend started Kenya Drylands Education Fund (KDEF) to improve the Education Standards among his Pastoralist Communities giving more preference to girls. Through his new organization Kura is building schools and educating hundreds of boys and girls in hard to reach areas of Drylands Kenya. Kura believes in holistic approach to Education and with that together with his team he designed water harvesting techniques for communities and schools. Kura is a Senior Aspen New Voices Fellow.