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Families battle disease outbreaks as water crisis continues to hit camps


Families battle disease outbreaks as water crisis continues to hit camps Story by JEFF OTIENO and WANJIRU MACHARIA
Publication Date: 2/18/2008
Effects of post-election violence continue to hit hard at the camps where thousands of people are being sheltered.

A lorry carrying displaced families from Naivasha arrives in Busia Town. Most of them remained stranded after failing to trace their families. Picture/ OUMA WANZALA

After experiencing problems of poor shelter and food rationing, displaced people within and outside the country are now facing disease outbreaks associated with poor diet and hygiene.

The director of medical services, Dr James Nyikal, has described the task of providing medical services in the current situation as a major challenge.

Children are worst hit at the camps as many continue to succumb to diarrhoea.

Nakuru is one of the worst hit areas. About 60 cases of diarrhoea are being treated daily at Afraha Stadium where more than 8,000 people have been camping since violence rocked Nakuru three weeks ago.

Water reserve

The Government, Nakuru council, Nakuwell Water Company and the Catholic Diocese of Nakuru have been supplying water to the camp.

Afraha has a 75,000-litre water reserve besides the water pumped by the council from 6am to 1pm.

Camp manager Andayi Shihanda said water is also fetched from the Catholic Diocese of Nakuru borehole and brought to the camp by the Red Cross.

The camp has 13 water points, each with a soak pit to ensure proper drainage.

But medics at the clinic run by Médecins Sans Frontières allayed fears of a cholera outbreak.

Nurse Pilar Tiera said the diarrhoea could have been caused by poor hygiene, but the actual cause was unclear because the clinic does not have a laboratory.

When Dr James Nyikal, toured the camp last Wednesday, he was concerned about the ailments and questioned the sources of the water being used.

At Kandutura Camp in Rongai, which hosts about 1,000 people, there had also been cases of diarrhoea due to the use of untreated water from a nearby stream, but New Life International has now donated water treatment facilities to the camp.

And Moi primary school, where 777 displaced children have been learning, may be closed after Nakuru Water and Sewerage Company cut its supply.

Now the displaced children together with the school’s 1,702 regular students have no water for drinking or sanitation.

Headmaster Charles Njoroge said the school owes Sh106,000 in arrears.

At Mathare Chief’s Camp and Ruaraka Police Station, double trouble looms for 900 residents; food rations are fast running out amid the spread of diarrhoea.

And in Naivasha, the rehabilitated Kedong Camp, which harbours more than 2,300 people, New Life International is purifying water to cut the risk of disease.

Beyond the border in Uganda, amenities are also being stretched to the limit, as the numbers of refugees from Kenya continues to swell in Mulanda.

Though the task is gigantic, the Government, private sector and non-governmental agencies are working hard, providing water purifying machines and sinking boreholes to check the spread of disease.


About SG

Secretary general of Chama Cha Mwananchi. This blog www.chamachamwananchi.wordpress.com, is based in Sweden.


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