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Kenya not on track to achieve MDGs target for sanitation

10 February 2015, 08:08

Nairobi - Kenya is not on track to achieve the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) target for sanitation coverage, officials said on Monday.

Kepha Ombacho, Director of Public Health with Ministry of Health, told a health forum in Nairobi that sanitation coverage is still low as over 43 percent of the rural population does not have access to basic sanitation.

"Sanitation and hygiene is not attracting the expected investments like other areas such as the water sector," Ombacho said during the launch of the Kenya Sanitation and Hygiene Improvement Programme (KSHIP).

The project, which is funded by the Global Sanitation Fund to the tune of 5 million U.S. dollars, hopes to improve the sanitation and hygiene of at least 1.92 million people in the country.

The programme will also focus on building the capacity of health officers, technicians and community health workers in both government and civil society to improve their knowledge of sanitation technology.

Ombacho said most informal settlements in urban centers have very poor sanitation facilities, and KSHIP will act as a seed fund for the promotion of sanitation and hygiene in the country.

According to the ministry of health, approximately 21 million Kenyans use unsanitary or shared latrines while another 5.6 million people practice open defacation.

"As a result of lack of safe drinking water, poor sanitation and hygiene, there are frequent outbreaks of diarrheal diseases, including cholera," said Ombacho.

Also read: MDG Report launched in Nairobi

Health Cabinet Secretary James Macharia said Kenya is accelerating investments in the health sector in order to improve the sanitation status of the country.

"Despite the challenges, we hope Kenya will become open defection free by the year 2020," Macharia said, adding that lack of basic sanitation means that open defecation is still widespread in Kenya.

He said the rates of open defacation vary from region to region as in some remotes areas, up to 70 percent of the population has no access to proper sanitation.

Global Sanitation Fund Programme Director David Shimkus said that KSHIP will sensitize communities to help move three quarters of a million people from open defecation to basic latrines.

"Another 380,000 people will be assisted to climb up the sanitation ladder from basic to improved latrines," he said.

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- Xinhua


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