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Watch: living without clean water in Kenya

Clean water and sanitation go hand in hand. It's very hard to have one without the other. For families in Tebeswet, not far from Kenya's Masai Mara wildlife reserve, they have neither.

The cost of building toilets is too high for this small community, while families rely on water from the Nyangores River for their daily needs.

“I feel very bad whenever I see my children using the forest around the river as a toilet,” says Karen Kosgei. “Whenever it rains, their waste will end up in the river and that is our only source of water.”

The village is about an hour’s drive from the town of Bomet, the largest town in Bomet County. The communities dotted around the town are what’s known as peri-urban; neither urban, nor rural, but somewhere in-between.

The rapid growth and informal status of these communities means there aren’t enough water and sanitation services, which results in waterborne diseases.

Karen, 24, has three children. When they get sick from drinking river water they miss school and so their education suffers. “The one wish we have is to have clean water to drink,” she says.

“I feel bad when my children get sick because of drinking water from the river.” The other significant problem that comes with diseases such as typhoid, is the cost of treating them.

Money has to be spent on medicines, money that would otherwise be spent on food. “We get diseases because we don’t have clean drinking water,” says 45-year-old Norah Sirgatei.

“The small money we have goes to treating diseases and we spend a lot of time in hospital.”

According to Kenya’s Ministry of Health, about 80 per cent of hospital attendance in Kenya is due to preventable diseases, while diarrhoeal diseases are the third most prevalent cause of mortality.

The families in Tebeswet are by no means alone in defecating outside. An estimated 14 per cent of Kenya’s population continues to practice open defecation – more than five million people.

“People in our community do not have money to build toilets so they usually defecate along the river or in the bush,” explains Norah, a mother-of-four.

“This brings about diseases because when it rains, the waste is swept into the river.”

Clean water and toilets: such basic commodities that we take for granted in the West, but two things that could dramatically improve people’s lives in this corner of Kenya.

  • Bomet County is one of the areas in Kenya that is benefiting from money raised through our Clean Start Appeal.


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