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Mandera health officials shut down shallow wells

Public health officials in Mandera County have shut down 13 wells supplying water in the area for being health risks, leaving only one operational.

The officials cited high health risks due to contamination from surface run-off following heavy rainfall that has pounded the region over the past one month.

Mandera East public health officer Hussein Yusuf said water consumers in the area are at a high risk of contracting water borne diseases.

“We are from a rainy season where we expect water borne diseases outbreak in the area, we have written to all hotel owners and done public sensitization to prevent a repeat of 2016 where a cholera outbreak claimed several lives in this region,” said Yusuf.

In April 2016 some 894 cases were reported in Mandera East Sub County alone with the disease claiming over 20 lives.

Yusuf said Well owners were not putting up water treatment tanks and were supplying it raw to consumers.

He said the department has enough chlorine and it was negligence from water vendors not to treat it before selling it to consumers.

The department had given the Well owners a one week notice to comply with health standards failure to which they would be shut down, the deadline was expiring on Tuesday this week leading to the closure.

The department had also written letters to hotel owners in the area asking them to comply with laid down hygiene standards to curb disease outbreak from dirty water.

Water scarcity in Mandera has led to private individuals to venture into water business transporting it using donkey carts and water boozers.

Area Environment Officer Fatuma Maalim of National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) said Mandera lacks a liquid waste treatment plant as such the waste dumped into the environment percolates into the water table finding its way into the wells, boreholes and rivers.

In 2016 the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRSC) engaged area residents on a door to door public health sensitization campaign reaching a total of 391,941 people through awareness sessions including demonstration of hand washing and hand washing facilities.

The cases admitted at the County treatment centres were given a discharge package which included sensitization and distribution of soaps, buckets and water treatment chemicals. The response by the KRCS, Ministry of health and other partners helped contain the outbreak within Mandera East Sub County at the time.

By Dickson Githaiga

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