Informal workers propped up the country’s economy—until they were suddenly struggling to survive.
- 98.5 Public Health
- 86.2 Financial
- 100 Fact-Based
Kenya has a strong overall policy score, although down significantly from January. However, it is consistently scoring well in all areas, particularly its reliance with respect to facts and science on COVID-19.
Kenya is one of the poorest countries in the Index, with a high infant mortality rate and low hospital bed availability, limiting its capacity pre-COVID-19.
- Debt/GDP ratio 60.1%
- GDP/capita $4,078
- Gini coefficient (out of 100) 40.8
- Infant mortality rate (out of 1,000 live births) 31
- Healthcare access score (out of 100) 48.7
- Hospital beds/1,000 People 9.5
Government ResponseSelect a data point for more information
(Data points represent policy level as of Jan 1.)
Public Health Directives
Kenya had strong, early health policy directives pertaining to the pandemic, although its very strong score was hurt by limited testing and poor contact tracing, which may be serious concerns moving forward.
- Stay at home order 2
- Public gathering restrictions 3
- School closings 1
- Public event cancellations 2
- Testing policy 2
- Emergency healthcare investments/capita $0.00
- Travel restrictions 1
- Tests/1,000 people 19.4
- Contact tracing 2
Despite a relatively low case rate, Kenya still provided debt and income support to help address COVID-19.
- Financial stimulus as share of GDP 0.9%
- Income support 0
- Debt forebearance 1
Kenya’s government is very strong in this category, as it has not engaged in misinformation or limited press freedom in response to COVID-19.
- Reliance on science/fact based information 0
- Press freedom 0
COVID-19 Status as of Jan 1
Through aggressive policy implementation, Kenya has continued to keep its case and death rates relatively low
- Total deaths 1,681
- Death rate per 100K 31.3
- Total cases 96,614
- Cases per 100K 1,797
- Percent of positive tests 3.5
- Change in positivity rates -1.4
|1||Apr 27||Restaurants begin to reopen||0.22|
|2||Jul 06||Places of worship (but not Sunday schools or madrassas) begin reopening, with restrictions||4.99|
|3||Jul 15||Domestic flights resumed||7.24|
|4||Aug 01||International flights resumed||12.54|
|5||Aug 11||Places of worship allow services to go for 90 minutes||11.22|
|6||Nov 04||Bars, restaurants must close by 9 pm||17.90|
|7||Nov 27||Wedding sizes capped at 50 people, 100 people cap at funerals (but only 15 at gravesite)||17.17|
- Doctors end strike over PPE: Kenyan doctors in public hospitals ended their nationwide strike in late December over lack of insurance, delayed pay, and insufficient PPE, concerns they had raised since March, noting that the government was taking care of their concerns. Read More
- Pandemic delivers heavy blow to tourism industry: Kenya's tourism industry, which constitutes 10 percent of the country's economic output, lost $1 billion from the beginning of the pandemic in 2020. Read More
- Teenage pregnancies rise as schools shut down: There has been a rise in teenage pregnancies in parts of Kenya as schools shut down due to the pandemic, a serious concern given the death rates from pregnancy and childbirth for young girls. Read More
- Violent policing during curfew: Fifteen people were killed, and many others injured by violent police enforcement of the lockdown in Kenya, resulting in legal action to hold the government accountable. Read More
- Rapid testing of truck drivers helps economic recovery: With help from the IOM, Kenyan truck drivers have been getting rapid COVID-19 tests, helping to reinvigorate cross-border trade, which had slowed down substantially. Read More
- Alleged schemes for missing aid: Preliminary research demonstrates that Universal Basic Income (UBI) for rural communities that were hit hardest by COVID-19 improve Kenyans' abilities to weather lockdown measures. Read More
- Vaccine trial approved: Pharmacy and Poisons Board approved human trials for a potential vaccine. If approved by the National Commission for Science, Technology, and Innovation (Nacosti), the trials will target 400 volunteer healthcare workers. Read More
Compared with Other African Countries
Per 1M 1,937
Despite having relatively weak pre-pandemic capacity, swift action and prevention-based messaging from the government helped mitigate spread early on in the crisis.
Per 1M 335
Ghana scores strongly on the Index, due primarily to its proactive public health policy, strong examples set by leadership, and reliance on facts; while consistently strong, it does have very weak testing, limited emergency healthcare spending, and a weak stimulus.
Per 1M 410
Senegal’s COVID-19 policy response has been very strong across the board, buoyed by strong public health directives and a reliance on science and facts.
54.9South Africa 1,073,887
Per 1M 28,887
Overall, South Africa's score is relatively strong with vigorous policy implementation—particularly with respect to lockdowns—offset by its relatively meager financial response.
Further Reading From Foreign Policy
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Statistics and government response factors available on each country profile include:
- Debt to GDP ratio
- Infant mortality rates
- Hospital beds per 1,000 people
- Gini coefficients measuring inequality
- Health access and quality
COVID-19 Public Health Directives:
- Stay-at home orders
- School-closing policy
- Public-gathering restrictions
- Cancellation of public events
- Testing policy and rates per 1,000 people
- Emergency healthcare spending per capita
- Travel restrictions
- Contact tracing
COVID-19 Financial Response:
- Stimulus package as a share of GDP
- Income support
- Instances of misinformation by leadership
- Limitations on press freedom, censorship
Current/Historic In-Country COVID-19 Status:
- Death rates per 1 million
- Case rates per 1 million