Baringo, Homa Bay top in lack of toilets

Thursday, November 18th, 2021 00:00 | By
Health Acting Director General Patrick Amoth delivers key note address during the launch of the Kenya Sanitation Alliance at a Nairobi Hotel. Photo/Courtesy/KNA

Baringo, Garissa and Homa Bay top the list of counties, where one is likely to spend hours on end in search of a washroom, according to a new report.

Other counties where you are not likely to find a toilet are Isiolo, Kajiado, Kilifi, Kwale, Mandera, Marsabit, Narok, Samburu, Tana River, Turkana, Wajir and West Pokot. 

A report dubbed State of Rural Sanitation and Hygiene in Kenya compiled by Unicef and the Government of Kenya, open defecation is largely a rural problem with more than one in 10 households defecating in the bush in 2019, representing more that 848,000 homes.

Critical role

“Almost 85 per cent of open defecation in Kenya takes place in 15 counties and six counties have rates exceeding 40 per cent, with wide intra-county disparities, led by Turkana at 68.1 per cent, Samburu (65.6 per cent), Tana River and Marsabit,” said Unicef chief of WASH Mahboob Bajwa. 

According to Unicef, Kenya is one of 26 countries in the world that is responsible for 90 per cent of open defecation. 

This has been linked to poor health outcomes, malnutrition, stunted growth of affected children, maternal deaths and a high disease burden for poor families. The 2019 National Census data shows that approximately 10 per cent of the Kenyan population lack access to sanitation facilities. 

 “Open defecation has devastating consequences for public health- causing disease and death and especially among young children,” said Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe in a speech read on his behalf by the acting Director General of Health at the ministry, Dr Patrick Amoth.  

He was speaking yesterday during the launch of the Kenya Sanitation Alliance (KSA) and declaration of commitment by the affected county governments, to end open defecation by 2025.

Head of department of Public Health at the Ministry of Health-Susan Koki said that at the current rate of sanitation adoption, Kenya will only achieve open defecation-free status by 2053 instead of the projected 2030.

Kenya has committed to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goal 6.2, which envisions access to adequate and equitable sanitation for all and end open defecation.

“Governments have a critical role to play. Sanitation is a public good, in need of funding that will allow everyone to benefit from improved health as well as social and economic development,” said Koki. 

Unicef country representative Maniza Zaman decried the negative effects that lack of access to clean sanitation services has on children.

“Approximately 6,600 children die in Kenya every year from diarrhoea. 85 per cent of these deaths are attributed to lack of access to clean water and poor sanitation. We need to change this,” Zaman said.

KSA, funded by the Government of Japan and the United States Agency for International Development, will involve decision-makers from the 15 most affected counties, to resolve the problem by committing funds from their budget to end open defecation.

The declaration of commitment reaffirms the constitutional right to safe drinking water and sanitation for all.

“We declare our commitment to end open defecation in Kenya by allocating a budget to the same, conducting quarterly progress reviews and to achieve adequate sanitation and hygiene for all by 2030,” read the declaration in part.

Governors will sign the declaration forms once the wordings and budget allocations are agreed upon by all. 

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