By Mabel Keya-Shikuku
The Department of Health in Narok is set to implement an environmental health law that will help improve sanitation in the county.
Speaking during a stakeholders meeting on Tuesday, the County Public Health Officer, Daniel Sironka said the bill which is now under discussion with various stakeholders before it’s taken to the County Assembly will ensure proper management of waste in the town and also protect water sources from pollution.
“Those who defecate urinate or throw waste haphazardly or release raw sewer into the river will now face the law,” he said adding that the Constitution guarantees all Kenyans a clean environment and proper health care.
He noted county governments have a role to play by proving the citizen with sanitation facilities such as toilets in public places.
He said latrines’ coverage in the county was one of the lowest in the country standing at 47 per cent and to improve on this shortage, the public Health department has embarked on a campaign known as Community Total Sanitation (CTS) to increase the latrine coverage and make the county Open Defecation Free (ODF).
Sironka however, said toilet coverage in Narok County has improved from 38 percent in 2015 year to 47 percent last year, thanks to the vigorous campaign by the health officials and other stakeholders.
This means approximately 53 percent of the total population still defecate in the bush, a situation that exposes the residents to water borne diseases.
The improvement in toilet coverage was triggered by the aggressive campaigns held by his department in collaboration with the Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) based in the county.
Sironka said the programme targets more than 1,500 villages in the County which have already been mapped out in a bid to sensitize the communities on the importance of use of toilets and other sanitation facilities.
He said the campaign is aimed at creating awareness on use of toilets and other sanitary facilities in the area in order to reduce pollution of water sources and eradicate sanitation related diseases such as Trachoma, diarrhea and polio.
Sironka said in Kenya alone, statistics show that about eight million Kenyans still defecate in the open, resulting in high prevalence of diseases such as typhoid, cholera, diarrhea and polio which are unfortunately among the top killer communicable diseases in the country.
Speaking during the same meeting, county Executive Committee (CEC) member in charge of Health, Mrs. Vivian Sereti-Mpetti said that Narok County spends over Sh.860, 000 million per year in treating sanitation related diseases that could otherwise be prevented.
She noted that the county needed only Sh.36 Million to resolve all sanitation issues in the county and help prevent the mentioned sanitation related diseases and asked all partners to assist in this worthy course.
Mpetti asked area residents to embrace proper sanitation such as use of toilets and proper disposal of waste so as to reduce pollution of water sources and eradicate sanitation related diseases.
Mrs. Sarah Tunai, wife to Narok Governor Samuel Tunai who has taken over the role of the county ambassador for sanitation in a message urged the members of the Maasai community to discarded outdated cultural practices such defecating in the bushes which in turn pollutes water sources leading to outbreak of diseases.
According to Maasai culture, men are not allowed to share washrooms (toilets) with their daughters and this has caused the community to lag behind in issues of sanitation as they do not see the need for constructing toilets when they can use the bushes.
Sironka said although the town does not have a sewer system, each owner of a building is required by law to have a proper sewer and other waste disposal system which is properly approved by his office in conjunction with National Environment Management Authority (NEMA).
On garbage disposal, Sironka said the new law will ensure the county government sets aside money to purchase a few trucks for collecting garbage in Narok town and also set aside a proper dumpsite for all the waste.
He also said that they are engaging the County government to ensure that a proper dumping site is set aside to keep the town clean.