DIRTY WATER

Over 200 children suffer from bilharzia, diarrhoea in Boni

Outbreak attributed to drinking contaminated water after sources dried up due to drought

In Summary
  • Boni residents have been left to drink dirty water from muddy rivers and wells after their water sources dried due to drought.

  • These water sources are equally untreated leaving the vulnerable residents at the risk of contracting waterborne diseases.

Lamu county Health executive Anne Gathoni
Lamu county Health executive Anne Gathoni
Image: CHETI PRAXIDES
Children in Kiangwe village in Boni forest.
Children in Kiangwe village in Boni forest.
Image: CHETI PRAXIDES

At least 200 children in Lamu’s terror-prone Boni forest have been affected by an outbreak of bilharzia and diarrhoea due to drinking contaminated water.

The affected children are from Kiangwe, Mangai, Milimani and Basuba villages inside the dense Boni forest.

Boni residents have been left to drink dirty water from muddy rivers and wells after their water sources dried due to a ravaging drought.

These water sources are untreated leaving the vulnerable residents at the risk of contracting waterborne diseases.

Boni MCA Barissa Deko has urged the county and national governments to send health workers to contain the situation before the numbers go up further.

The Boni areas have no single functional health facility after dispensaries were looted, vandalised and torched by al Shabaab militants in 2014.

Health workers who had been serving in theses dispensaries also fled and have never returned, leaving residents with no definitive health system.

Only Kiangwe dispensary is in operation but is plagued by shortage of staff and drugs.

“Currently, there are at least 200 children suffering from bilharzia and diarrhoea. The situation is worse because there are no health facilities here. We are appealing for help from the two governments,” Deko said.

The Boni residents have urged the county government to include them in the plan to supply water to drought-stricken villages using water bowsers until the drought period lapses.

Boni elder Ali Gubo said residents and wildlife are scrambling for the dirty water.

“We hear they are supplying water to people affected by drought, let them consider us. Apart from water borne disease, we also have people suffering from skin ailments from using the dirty water,” Gubo said.

Lamu Health Executive Anne Gathoni said they are aware of the outbreak of water-related illnesses among children in Boni areas, adding that the situation was being managed.

“Once we received reports of the outbreak, we airlifted a team of medics in partnership with the KDF and Red Cross. They treated 130 people, 20 with diarrhoea and the rest with bilharzia and skin diseases,” Gathoni said.

She said the county government would also supply villages with water using water bowsers and treat water sources.

“We are also distributing aqua tabs to households. The situation is currently under control. We have community health volunteers on the ground who are updating us daily. So far, we don't have any new cases reported,” Gathoni said.

-Edited by SKanyara

Children in Kaingwe village in Boni forest.
Children in Kaingwe village in Boni forest.
Image: CHETI PRAXIDES