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Gov’t revamps sewer systems, improves sanitation at Kisumu prisons

The national government has adopted a multi-sectoral approach to finding a lasting solution to the sanitation menace at the two major prisons in Kisumu County.

The State Department of Correctional Services Principal Secretary Safina Kwekwe, while in a routine assessment tour in the lakeside county on Tuesday revealed that waste management units would be constructed at the Kisumu Maximum and Kibos Prisons to solve the perennial sewerage problems at the facilities.

Kwekwe who was accompanied by the Commissioner General of Prisons John Warioba and the Administrative Secretary Kenya Prisons Service Patrick Mwangi said there is an urgent need to improve sanitation services through the establishment of modern wastewater management at the correctional units to curb environmental pollution.

“These prisons have been experiencing sewer challenges for a long time due to the flat terrain in this area, which causes floods during the rainy season. We have established a partnership with other stakeholders to build sewer systems that are going to work,” assured Kwekwe.

The State Department has partnered with Kisumu Water Supply and Sanitation Company (KIWASCO) and Kibos Sugar Company to implement the sanitation projects through funding from Water Sector Trust Fund.

The prisons, Kwekwe said, are still operating the old conventional waste treatment plants that cause environmental pollution.

“The use of outdated facilities at the prison has posed grave environmental challenges which have complicated the relations between the facilities and their neighbourhood. The government has stepped in to address these challenges and restore good relationships with the surrounding communities,” reiterated the PS.

She further noted the increased number of inmates and staff as a major challenge that has overstretched the resources at the two facilities.

Kisumu Maximum and Kibos Prisons have a population of 7,000 and 3,000 respectively including both staff and inmates.

The construction of decentralized sewerage treatment plants will also provide an opportunity to reuse the wastewater as an input for other production to make products like briquettes.

At the same time, Kwekwe said the 37 prisons in the country were also facing various challenges like inmate congestion, staff housing as well as poor sanitation.

Speaking during the same event, KIWASCO Managing Director Thomas Odongo hailed the sanitation project saying it will adopt a mechanized technology that utilizes a small piece of land of about half an acre leaving the rest for other developmental use.

“The establishment of a decentralized water treatment plant at these prisons is a game changer in the water and sanitation sector as it will improve the sanitation coverage in the area,” added Odongo saying the initiative will benefit various public institutions like schools, hospitals, hotels and the homesteads.

According to the MD, the government’s investment in the sanitation sector will go a long way in fighting diseases like cholera in Kisumu County.

By Robert Ojwang’

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