Impact of Covid-19 on Labor Markets in Nzoia River Basin, Kenya.

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International Journal of Research and Scientific Innovation (IJRSI) | Volume VIII, Issue V, May 2021 | ISSN 2321–2705

Impact of Covid-19 on Labor Markets in Nzoia River Basin, Kenya.

Ernest Othieno Odwori
Department of Water, Environment and Natural Resources, Kakamega County, P.O. Box 36-50100, Kakamega, Kenya.

IJRISS Call for paper

Abstract: Nzoia River Basin lies entirely within Kenya along the border with Uganda in the Lake Victoria Basin, and has a population of about 3.7 million people that is rapidily growing and require jobs to earn a livelihood. The urgent measures taken by Governments around the world to curb the rapid spread of COVID-19 has resulted into shortened working hours, furloughs, and work-from-home plans, all of which have had a direct effect on labor markets. The purpose of this study was to investigate the impact of COVID-19 on labor markets in Nzoia River Basin, Kenya. A cross-sectional research design was used. Three counties were randomly selected from the basin for study with Busia representing the lower catchment, Kakamega middle catchment and Trans Nzoia upper catchment. This study used in-depth expert interviews coupled with brainstorming sessions with selected stakeholders from national and county governments, private sector, academia and scientists, field observations, recently published literature and industry experiences to investigate the impact of COVID-19 on labor markets in Nzoia River Basin. The data were analyzed using descriptive statistics. The findings of this study reveal that COVID-19 has had a major impact on labor markets within Nzoia River Basin and the impact on Kenya’s economy since the first case was reported on 13 March 2020 has been severe on all sectors. Different types of workers have been differentially impacted by the pandemic. There is need to develop new skills for workers in a number of sectors in the areas of emotional intelligence, virtual skills, teamwork, autonomous working, thinking skills, technical skills, creativity and effective communication. The very highly preferred mode of delivering services by organizations in the basin is normal program, followed by flexible schedules as highly preferred, mixed (working from home/telecommuting/teleworking/remote work and flexible schedules) was of medium preference and working from home/telecommuting/teleworking/remote work showed low preference. Despite a number of organizations wanting to adopt working from home/telecommuting/teleworking/remote work as the mode of delivering services, they were faced with a lot of difficulties that prevented them from taking off. Ability to digital technologies and computers, adaptation to emerging modes of communication and communication tools, operating in the same room as other family members, and the length of work schedule are among the crucial challenges faced. This study contributes to the rapidly growing body of knowledge about the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on labor markets, paving the way for further future studies. The results of this study are crucial for national and county governments, the private sector, and higher education institutions, as they can be used to establish training plans for the evolving labor markets that will arise during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Such training programs would aid in maintaining our labor force and, as a result, reducing the pandemic’s negative effects.

Keywords: Nzoia River Basin, COVID-19, Labor markets.

I.INTRODUCTION

Many countries’ lockdown and social distancing steps to combat COVID-19’s spread since it was first reported on December 12, 2019 in Wuhan, China, have had a significant effect on jobs, including reduced working hours, furloughs, and work-from-home arrangements (Gupta et al. 2020). Working families were impacted in two ways by the global public health crisis. On the one side, government mobility limits and voluntary travel restrictions for health and safety reasons forced millions of employees to work from home (Yasenov 2020).