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Killer wells

By Robert Kariuki (2015)

Lobei/Kotaruk ward is part of the large Loima sub-county in Turkana County. This region is blessed with fresh pasture for livestock, serving Turkana north and south sub-counties and other areas like Napeililim, Lomeyen and Nakoriek.

However, water remains scarce with residents and livestock herders being compelled to dig their own traditional wells along the rivers, which they can depend on especially during droughts.

Lobei/Kotaruk residents have not yet felt the impact of devolution where resources are close to the people.

Instead, they have been hit hard by water shortage that has prompted residents to fetch water from traditional killer wells where residents, mostly women, risk their lives fetching water.

Each well has a depth of between 10 to 15 metres. When women want to fetch water for domestic use or when herders want to fetch water for livestock at least 11 people are forced to line up from the bottom of the well to the top so that they can pass water containers from one person to another.

There are instances when the walls have collapsed leading to loss of lives. In pastoral communities, women carry the obligation of fetching water, which exposes them to the dangers of killer wells.

According to Lobei/kotaruk residents, most of the victims when wells collapse have been women.

Lobei/Kotaruk member of county assembly David Ateyo testified about a traditional well known as ‘Lopirpira’ which has claimed the lives of more than 15 people both men and women.

“These rivers have loose soil and in most cases they collapse and kill a number of people inside,” he narrated.

He added that residents work collectively when fetching water for domestic and livestock use. This is because households do not have enough labor to fetch water. This has transformed fetching water from being a household chore into a communal effort.

He also referred to other wells in River Nakatwan in Nakejuakaal where herders fetch water for livestock. However, in some instances they fail to deliver water to the top after the wells collapse and bury them deep down the surface.

The residents are urging the county government through the ministry of water, agriculture and irrigation to drill boreholes for them so as to reduce the risk of losing lives.


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