Kenya: COVID-19 - Turkana Residents Use Cow Urine As Sanitiser

A section of nomadic pastoralists in Turkana County is using strange measures to keep Covid-19 at bay.

The residents are using urine from a female cattle to disinfect their hands after the Ministry of Health issued a number of directives on how to keep the virus at bay.

Some of the directives include maintaining high levels of hygiene through regularly washing hands with soap, sanitising hands, wearing facemasks in public places, staying at home and social distancing.

Mr Lokoliok Losike, a herder at Oropoi village near the Kenya- Uganda-South Sudan, said that cattle urine especially, from a cow is believed to work as a disinfectant.

Mr Losike said that they have used cattle urine to wash hands due to scarcity of water.

"What will happen when you have roasted meat on the table and your hands are dirty and the nearest water source is 20 kilometers away?" he posed.

"Through public health officers and local administrators we learnt of the coronavirus and to stay safe, we have to wash our hands frequently. When there is no water, we use urine from the cattle," Mr Losike said.

On Thursday, when Turkana Governor Josphat Nanok was receiving a donation comprising sanitisers and facemasks from the United High Commissioner for Refugees, he confirmed that cattle urine is used in remote places where water is scarce.

Mr Nanok said that the urine has been instrumental in disinfecting cows' udders and teats before milking.

He said that he was aware that villagers in remote parts of the county were using ng'acoto (cattle urine) as a disinfectant.


"That is the same old way they are aware of. In fact when they are milking cattle, they use the urine to disinfect the teats. This practice has been very effective and locals have adopted that without asking." Governor Nanok said.

He said that the fight against Covid-19 is a responsibility of every Turkana County resident. He urged residents to frequently wash their hands to avoid spread of the virus.

He however, warned those who can easily access sanitisers against mishandling them at home.

"Don't try to apply sanitisers and immediately go to the kitchen to cook, sanitisers are flammable." Mr Nanok said.

Mr Titus Ekiru, a culture expert, told Nation that it is normal for pastoralists in remote areas to clean hands using any available means.

"For one to eat and he doubts his hands he can wash them using the urine when water is not available," he said.

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