A health worker in Kibera shows a child how to wash hands after visiting the toilet. More than 40 per cent of Kenyans use pit latrines, buckets and bushes to relieve themselves, exposing them to contagious diseases, a new report shows.
More than 40 per cent of Kenyans use pit latrines, buckets and bushes to relieve themselves, exposing them to contagious diseases, a new report shows.
“Use of the bush accounts for 17.5 per cent of the population, reflecting lack of basic infrastructure or household initiatives towards the use of alternative forms of waste disposal,” the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics says in the report.
The report, ‘Pulling Apart or Pooling Together’, shows large differences between households headed by men and female-headed families on access to better sanitation.
The proportion of households that are female-headed use the bush slightly more, at 24.2 per cent, compared to the male-headed households, at 23.9 per cent.
Only 5.9 per cent of the country’s population is connected to main sewer systems, hence have in-house toilets.
Even here, male-headed homes scored better, at 6.3 per cent, compared to female-headed households, at five per cent.
Nairobi county has the highest population with access to improved waste disposal means, at 87.9 per cent. Wajir is on the other end of the stick, with only at 6.8 per cent enjoying improved waste disposal services.
Access to improved modes of waste disposal in Nairobi county is 15 times better than Wajir county.
Other counties in the top five with improved sanitation are Vihiga, Kakamega, Kirinyaga, Mombasa and Kiambu, while those at the bottom include Narok, Kwale, Garissa, Samburu and Mandera.
According to the World Bank, Kenya loses Sh27 billion ($324 million) each year due to poor sanitation.
A World Bank report on water and sanitation for 2012 indicates that 21 million Kenyans, about half the population, use unsanitary or shared latrines, while 5.6 million others do not have latrines at all and are forced to defecate in the open.
The report notes that open defecation costs the economy Sh7.3 billion every year, yet eliminating the practice would require construction and use of less than 1.2 million latrines.
The study established that the majority (75 per cent) of these costs are as a result of premature deaths from diarrhoea of 23,000 Kenyans every year.
Each Kenyan who defecates in the open spends time amounting to nearly 2.5 days a year seeking a private location to relieve himself or herself, the study says.
Those lost hours represent 7.5 billion in costs, the World Bank suggests, adding that this figure is likely to be an underestimate because “those without toilets, particularly women, will be obliged to find a private location for urination as well”.
The report notes that Kenya currently invests no more than 0.5 per cent of national income in sanitation.
This is lower than several estimates for what is required, according to the report.