ARTICLE TYPE

Water, Sanitation & Hardware

“Each time I need to fetch water for my household use, I request for help from my neighbours who will then assist me to fetch and carry the water home from a water spring which is quite a distance from my home. The handless containers made it difficult for me to fetch and carry water. The water from the spring is contaminated thus contributing to water-borne diseases within my household”. Such is the story of Julius Kekelyo a 50-year-old father of five who has lived all his life with impairment in both his arms. His disability posed two challenges in his life; first his inability to access safe water facilities and the second being lack of opportunities due to social exclusion. When I arrived at his home in Kapenguria constituency, West Pokot county, the vibrant Mr Kekelyo was resting a few meters from his washroom. 
 
The washroom which is made of mud is built a few metres away from his main house, a knowledge he acquired from the UNICEF Hygiene Education and Promotion in Emergency program facilitated by Kenya Red Cross Society Community Health Volunteers (CHVs). In the past, Kekelyo’s family passed stool in the open bush because pit latrines were unavailable in homes. The stool is washed into the river when it rains, using such water from rivers and streams contaminated with human feaces contributed to cholera outbreaks within his household. Following the under-performance of the 2018 NovDec short rain and the 2019 Oct-Dec extreme rainfall resulted in Baringo andWest Pokot counties being negatively impacted by drought and floods. The drought led to the reduction in the number of people accessing safe water following the drying up of major surface water sources including shallow wells and spring sources whilst the heavy rainfall caused floods that claimed lives of Kenyans and displaced thousands of households.
 
Due to reduced access to safe water, safe hygiene practices become increasingly challenging putting populations at risks of diseases including waterborne diseases such as cholera. According to Kekelyo from West Pokot county, the lack of safe water had serious effects on his children’s academic performance and school attendance rates. Most of the time, his children always complained of stomach pains and diarrhoea. The treatment cost of cholera constituted almost 90% of total household maintenance cost. As the head of the household, at times he was forced to forego food to pay for the hospital bills. explained the traditional roles assigned to women by the society limiting their access to both education and business opportunities. Sometimes she is forced to go with her children so they can get enough water for their household resulting in her children missing school.
 
 
“Every day, women in Baringo County walk an estimated five to ten kilometres to collect water for household use. The majority of residents within the county rely on rivers, unprotected springs, water pans and boreholes as sources of water. Fetching water from the river takes me about 3-4 hours to get to a source of drinking water. I have to ensure that I get enough water for domestic use and for my garden which is currently the source of food for my household”, said Sarah Timer. Cholera remains a persistent health problem in many low and middle-income countries. Research by World Health  Organisation shows that each year there are 1.3 million to 4.0 million cases of cholera, and 21 000 to 143 000 deaths worldwide due to cholera yet cholera is treatable and could be managed at the household level. Kenya Red Cross Society in partnership with UNICEF is improving water, sanitation and hygiene in Kenya by promoting household water treatment and safe storage practice whilst carrying out emergency hygiene education targeted at vulnerable households.
 
In West Pokot and Baringo counties, each vulnerable community members have been provided with a 20-litre jerrican, 10-litre bucket and water treatment chemicals. In addition, Kenya Red Cross CHVs have mobilized community members, government officials and institutions to work together to improve hygiene, water and sanitation conditions. The provided long-term solutions including household-level water treatment, constructing latrines and handwashing promotion have reduced the risk of cholera and other faecally transmitted diseases. Kenya Vision 2030, calls for access to sanitation facilities and clean water for all by 2030. Through the Kenya Red Cross and UNICEF Hygiene Education and Promotion in hygiene program, a total of 7,700 households using unsafe water sources received water treatment chemicals. Over 90,000 people in Baringo County and 60,000 in West Pokot county received emergency WASH related information including handwashing with soapfor the preventionof such diseases.

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