Two hundred and thirty villages, from the host community and refugees were recognised and awarded for their achievement in being certified as open defecation free (ODF) and maintaining high standards of sanitation and hygiene.

This water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) project, a partnership of Turkana County Government and Peace Winds Japan funded by Unicef, begun in 2019 by targeting villages in both host communities and refugees. The villages were in Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kalobeyei Ward, Kakuma, Lopur, Letea and Kalobeyei Integrated Settlement.

This initiative has greatly reduced the outbreaks of sanitation and hygiene related diseases such diahorea and cholera in the host communities and refugees.

In her speech read by Deputy Director Daniel Esimit – Health Promotion and Disease Control County Executive Jane Ajele, who was the chief guest, said that the overall impact of the project has led to a remarkable reduction of sanitation and hygiene related diseases in the past one year.

“With Turkana West sub-county’s latrine coverage increasing from 31% to 77%, the sub-county contributes to saving of Kshs102 million following the attainment of the first 209 ODF villages,” she said.

The area Member of Parliament, Daniel Epuyo Nanok appreciated and congratulated Turkana West community for taking lead in open defecation certification process.

“The county government and partners should scale up and focus on the remaining sub-counties bearing in mind sustainability,” he said.

However, Epuyo decried on delay in completion of water project in Kakuma which would have contributed raising sanitation and hygiene standards in the town and its environs.

While making his remarks, Deputy Director Esimit urged the people to get vaccinated against Covid-19 as it was still a threat.

“Let us sensitize each other on the early symptoms of diseases and people should do not employ the wait-and-see approach but seek services from nearby health facility.

He said the county government had constructed facilities, deployed human resource and supplied enough drugs for the people.

Akiko Chiba, the County Representative of Kenya Mission – Peace Winds Japan, said that the journey to the ODF has been of great success as is evident with the villages that were being celebrated.

She said that sanitation was key to a healthy society and commended the villages for their efforts.

Turkana West Sub-County Administrator, Joshua Napoco, said promoting the ownership of the latrine facilities will assist in the sustainability aspect. He tasked the wards administrators and the recently deployed village administrators to work alongside county public health team to sensitize the communities on pit latrine usage.

WASH County Coordinator WASH Reuben Kibiego said outbreaks of cholera were common in Kakuma Camp but now with more villages certified as ODF cholera outbreaks will be thing of the past.

The most outstanding county certifiers and villages were recognised with certificates and trophies.

Others who spoke were Yussuf Salat (Deputy County Commissioner of Turkana West), Dr. Kasili Mutambo (Camp Manager – Refugees Affairs Secretariat) and Oscar Nabiswa (WASH officer – UNHCR).