A day to celebrate JICA toilets in Nyanza, Kenya
Today I went along with some of my colleagues to not one, but four, dedication ceremonies for a JICA sponsored clean water project.
It’s been an extremely long day.
Nearly 80% of people in this area of Kenya practice open defecation. They don’t use toilets. Of course, fecal matter washes into the lake, which happens to be where they all get their drinking water from. Diarrheal disease is, of course, out of control.
As a public health professional, I’m justifiably annoyed that there are people out there who can’t handle even the simplest sanitation solution: shitting in a single hole. However, it is what it is.
JICA has sponsored the construction of put latrines and the installation of water tanks at several schools in the area. These interventions are dirt cheap, but are way beyond the financial reach of impoverished communities along Lake Victoria. While we would assume that the Kenyan government would be expected to contribute money to help protect their children, the reality is that this area has been politically marginalized since independence. Schools can’t depend on the government to provide even sufficient wages for teachers, let alone sanitation infrastructure. Given the political problems between the current Kikuyu government and the Luo, it’s unlikely that the funds would be provided, even if they were available.
One of the schools we visited is 100% community funded. While it was a rudimentary facility, the locals have to be commended for taking matters into their own hands. I just wish they’d take sanitation more seriously.
Talked to a great bunch of people, listened to some great stories and drank 7 bottles of Coca-Cola. Off to bed.
Tags: drinking water, JICA, kenya, Kenyan government, sanitation
About Pete LarsonResearcher at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research. Lecturer in the University of Michigan School of Public Health and at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. I do epidemiology, public health, GIS, health disparities and environmental justice. I also do music and weird stuff.
- New publication: Climate change related catastrophic rainfall events and non-communicable respiratory disease
- New publication! Snakebite victim profiles and treatment-seeking behaviors in two regions of Kenya: results from a health demographic surveillance system in Tropical Medicine and Health (BMC)
- New publication: Ambient air pollution and non-communicable respiratory illness in sub-Saharan Africa: a systematic review of the literature
- New publication: “Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on temporal patterns of mental health and substance abuse related mortality in Michigan: An interrupted time series analysis” (Lancet Regional Health – Americas)
- New publication: “Long-Term PM2.5 Exposure Is Associated with Symptoms of Acute Respiratory Infections among Children under Five Years of Age in Kenya, 2014”
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