Kenya: Cholera Outbreak Fears in Umoja Estate as Water Mixes With Raw Sewage

Entrance to The Nairobi Hospital.

Residents of Nairobi's Umoja estate have raised their concerns over the safety of the water they have been consuming in their homes in the past several weeks.

A spot check by Daily Nation in Umoja 1 on on Wednesday revealed that many residents, especially children, have in recent days contracted infections as a result of drinking what they suspect to be contaminated water.

Samples of water from the taps was found to be green or brown and in some cases smelling of sewage.

This comes at a time when the Nairobi City County last week confirmed an outbreak of cholera in the City.

Most plots, from Umoja 1 A to E, have had their water meters locked in the past five days because of the water contamination, which residents fear may bring an epidemic of waterborne diseases in one of Nairobi's most populous neighbourhoods.

"The water has been dirty for long, it has been mixed with sewage and we had been using it unknowingly. We did not know we were drinking sewage until much later when I opened the kitchen tap and the water was stinking," said Honest Rimoi, a resident of the estate.

DIRTY WATER

His children, he says, contracted amoeba after consuming the water which has become dirtier in past four days.

"We are tired of buying water everyday even when we are not even sure if it is clean. We do not know where they (vendors) draw the water from," he said.

Many other residents have complained of suffering from ailments such as amoeba, typhoid or diarrhea as a result of drinking contaminated water.

Ms Peris Kigo' three-year-old baby girl has been vomiting.

"She started vomiting on Sunday and she is still sick," she said moments after coming from the hospital.

While the doctor told her the baby may have eaten contaminated food, she is convinced that it is the dirty water.

"The water we getting in our taps is sewage, my baby has become sick after drinking the water. The issue has persisted for a while, and despite reporting to the concerned authorities no action has been taken to rectify the issue," another resident of the estate, Mirriam Wacuka, said.

CONTAMINATION

She expressed concerns that many more children may be affected with schools closing this week.

Another estate resident, Dorothy Sayo, says she has been sick since Sunday after drinking the water.

She claims one of her housemates has also been affected by the water.

Mr Kevin Mbugua was in hospital three weeks ago after he fell ill. He was diagnosed with mild amoeba.

In almost every plot, the story is the same. People have running stomachs while piped water remain closed in most plots.

Mr Michael Waitima, a landlord, was forced to pump out 5,000 liters of water he had stored for his 26 tenants because of contamination.

ROAD CONSTRUCTION

While the residents suspect that the contamination came from a plot whose sewerage system was interfered with a few months ago, the actual source could be far away.

According to a Nairobi Water and Sewerage Company engineer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, the problem in Umoja is that the water table is high while the area has a web of sewer lines, which may be contaminating the water.

"I have channeled the water to see where the problem is and we are mobilizing machines to come and rectify the problem," he said.

He however said that he has to wait until there is running water in the system so as to identify the source of the contamination.

Also, there has been an ongoing road construction in the area.

At least 14 cases of cholera were confirmed in Nairobi last week, with four patients from Imara Daima, Embakasi, Eastleigh and Ruai.

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