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Mask-making Becomes Lifeline for African Communities

From crowded informal settlements to conservation areas teeming with wildlife, cottage industries have popped up around the globe producing and distributing face masks for frontline workers, taxi drivers, market sellers and more. Usually comprised of two fabric layers with a disposable filter, mask-making enterprises are stoking local economies and helping communities. In Samburu County in northern Kenya, a wildlife conservation trust that protects endangered zebras has shifted its operations from producing reusable sanitary pads for local girls to zebra-patterned cloth face masks for the whole community. Grevy’s Zebra Trust normally employs girls and women in the Wamba region to monitor zebra populations. It also runs an income-generating programme for women and girls to make sanitary pads, which they sell at school or in their communities. But as soon as Kenya went into lockdown, the trust shifted towards producing face masks as a means of protecting local populations, said co-founder Belinda Low Mackey.