• Yvonne Ekiru

Open defecation is still a norm in Turkana



“Why should I build a toilet and yet I have no food?” asked Francis Ebor He is 49 years, disabled with no toilet at his home in Kawalase village in Turkana Central.


Even as the world was celebrating World Toilet Day on Thursday, Ereng says to him it was insignificant.


“Building a toilet in Turkana is very expensive compared to other places. Toilets are meant for the rich but not the poor,” said Ebor.

According to the World Health Organization, 4.2 billion people live without access to safely- managed sanitation. Factors such as drought, rising sea levels and floods, are a threat to sanitation systems which includes toilets, septic tanks and even treatment plants. United Nations notes that floods can cause damage to toilets and as a result spread human waste into communities and food crops and this could lead to deadly and chronic diseases.

United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) says that clean water, basic toilets and good hygiene practices are essential for the survival of children.

The 2019 Census revealed that 7.4 per cent of Kenyan households lack sanitation. Around 10 per cent of the population or 4.7 million people practice open defecation.

In Turkana County out of the 2249 villages, only 633 were certified as open defecation free (ODF).


Sub-County Public Health Officer Julia Akorilem advised the community to use locally found materials to construct the walls to reduce the costs for building a latrine.

The County Executive of Health Services and Sanitation Jane Ajele appreciated efforts done by the sub-counties to ensure that proper sanitation was accessible to all residents of Turkana County. 10 villages in Turkana North were declared Open Defecation Free (ODF) as each household had access to and utilised latrines. The certified ODF villages are grouped in terms of Ward as three in Kaeris, two villages in Lapur, three in Lakezone and two villages in Kaaleng .


In Turkana South the ODF certified villages are Nakaalei, Nakwamekwi, Ngierengo, Lotukumo and Kotoro totaling to eight villages in that area.