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5M people at risk of contracting sleeping sickness

17 November 2014, 15:55 Jane Zack

Busia - About 5 million people in the Western Kenya region are at a risk of contracting sleeping sickness, with tsetse infestation covering all the sub-Counties at varying densities.

Sleeping sickness is endemic in Busia County with the latest case having been reported in 2009 at Obekai area of Teso South sub-county.

This revelation was made during the Nambale Dairy Farmers Field day that was held at Mundembu village of Sikinga sub-location in Bukhayo East ward over the weekend, an event that attracted over 200 farmers from the region.

In her speech, the Chief Executive Officer Kenya Tsetse and Trypanosomiasis Eradication Council (KENTTEC), Pamela Olet regretted that nagana, which is also a fatal cattle disease and is common in the region, impoverishes livestock farmers and therefore threatens food security and livelihoods in the entire region.

“Tsetse infestation and trypanosomiasis infections have a negative impact on drought power that is much needed to open up land for agricultural production and also on tourism that affects the country’s foreign exchange earnings,” Olet noted.

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She observed that there is need for concerted eradication efforts in a bid to avert the debilitating effects on man and livestock.

The officer in charge of monitoring and evaluation KENTTEC, Seth Onyango who read the CEO’s speech on her behalf, said that the major problem has been re-infestation of the reclaimed areas when control measures break down due to budgetary constraints and uncoordinated efforts.

“It is important to get in touch with development partners in a bid to work towards a tsetse free Kenya,” Onyango said.

He added, “The African Heads of State and Government in the year 2000 in Lome Togo made a decision to eradicate tsetse and trypanosomiasis from the continent of Africa. Kenya took up the challenge by establishing the Pan African Tsetse and Trypanosomiasis Eradication Campaign (PATTEC) unit in 2005.”

He said that the unit started implementation of activities in Lake Victoria Regionwhere Busia County falls, with a population of the fly being brought down from a high of about 1 000 flies per day per trap to 1 fly per trap per day.

He called upon the local communities to diversify their economic activities and increase their acreage under crop agriculture in freed areas so as to improve livelihoods.

Nambale Dairy Cooperative Society chairman, Jackson Keya told farmers that dairy farming is now possible as threatening diseases have been controlled saying that milk should be given the first priority.

“We are targeting to be collecting 10 000 litres a day from our farmers, from the current average of 500 litres we get on a daily basis. We are sure of wealth creation when we’ll start value addition wholly through packaging of yoghurt, mala and cheese,” Keya assured the farmers.

Area MCA, Charles Wakhungu urged the Nambale dairy farmers to continue working together and diversify in a bid to alleviate poverty.

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- MyNews24

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