UNODC and COVID-19 in Eastern Africa



UNODC salutes the ongoing, pro-active efforts of Member States in Eastern Africa to combat COVID-19, and we underline our strong support as we execute the UNODC mandate.

The unprecedented challenge of the pandemic has forced UNODC to operate in new ways. To comply with the measures taken by Member States and UN Country Team in the region, our personnel are working remotely or at home.

Yet our vital work continues in the region as we assist governments and other national stakeholders, including civil society organizations, to tackle major challenges related to drugs, crime, justice services, health and terrorism. This includes addressing crime that seeks to exploit the pandemic, such as cybercrime.

See our COVID-19 Conversations video series. 

Please also scroll to see more videos, stories and related resources below.

Support for COVID-19 response


UNODC’s mandate is as relevant as ever during this rapidly evolving crisis. Together with our donors, we are working closely with government partners to strengthen their preparedness and response to COVID-19, and to do so without stigmatization and with full respect for human rights.

Our support includes providing technical assistance, essential equipment, training and tailoring global guidance to the local context.

Health and Social Development

We are delivering vital assistance to vulnerable populations, including people who use drugs, people suffering from drug use disorders, those infected with HIV and viral Hepatitis, as well as those in prison settings.

  • In early April, we donated essential commodities to three methadone clinics on Kenya’s coast to address the immediate COVID-19 prevention needs of their health care workers and 2,800 clients. This included 5,000 medical examination gloves, 850 litres of hand sanitizer, hand washing gel, washing powder soap and an initial consignment of N95 face masks. See News.
  • In an effort to decongest the existing methadone dispensing site in Mombasa County, a new prison and community site was opened on 14 April to enhance the COVID-19 prevention efforts of the Mombasa County and Kenya Prisons Service.
  • We are closely monitoring the supply chain of methadone with the support of the International Narcotics Control Board so that supply is maintained during this global crisis and there is no disruption of services to people who use drugs in the region.

Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice

We are assisting governments to innovate in maintaining the continuity of justice services and the rule of law.

  • Based on requests, we have revised our support under the European Union-funded Programme for Legal Empowerment and Aid Delivery in Kenya (PLEAD). We are assisting the National Council on the Administration of Justice, chaired by the Chief Justice, to coordinate the safe delivery of justice services under an Administrative and Contingency Management Plan to mitigate COVID-19 in the justice sector. See News.
  • Through PLEAD we are also fast tracking the delivery of ICT equipment to enable effective virtual court proceedings; developing refresher training for police officers on human rights approaches to crowd control and public order management; and procuring personal protective equipment for frontline justice officials. See fact sheet.

Global Maritime Crime

On prisons and health, we are advising governments on how to minimize the risks of viruses in overcrowded conditions.

  • Our team issued a video bulletin about the virus outbreak and its effect on those who work and live in custodial environments in Eastern Africa (see below). It contains practical advice for prison staff on specific prevention and control measures, consistent with global UNODC Viruses and Places of Detention guidelines.

Our Videos

UNODC Regional Representative accepts the #SafeHandsChallenge

Virus in detention facilities: Prevent it, Contain it, Beat it!

More COVID-19 stories

Pandemic prompts innovation by Kenya's justice sector


Responding to COVID-19 in Somalia's prisons


Flash Appeal launched in Kenya to combat COVID-19 pandemic


Support to reduce COVID-19 risk at Kenya methadone clinics



More information


Last updated 25 June 2020