Hygiene and Sanitation in Kibera
The lack of sewage systems are prevalent in Kibera today. In general, snatiation in the slum is very limited making it a breeding ground for virus outbreaks. As a consequence of Kiberans not having permanent toilets, people resort to local latrines that are shared with more than 50 families. Another option that people resort to is “flying toilets” which are plastic bags that people use as toilets and then throw them onto rooftops or drainage trenches. While these makeshift toilets are a creative solution, they are often discarded in nearby bodies of water, which further poisons the already limited water supply. Thankfully, NGOs are helping to combat the water sanitation problem through the development of an app which helps Kiberans locate fresh water.
While NGOs and the government have been working to help solve the lack of sanitation, there hasn’t been enough progress. Although Kibera has made small improvements, the lack of toilets has caused illness in children who may get in close proximity to these “flying toilets'” and has soiled their local river water. As a response to the pandemic, organizations have been able to set up handwashing stations, to limit the spread of Covid-19 in the slum. These initiatives are being led by various community leaders who have been mobilizing resources through private organizations. Kibera Town Centre (KTC) is an organization that is known for its human needs services. It has been providing free clean drinking water, sanitation services, public sensitization for COVID-19 in settlements and handwashing stations. According to Byrones Khainga, who is the KTC Technical Manager, the facility serves about 800 to 1,000 people per day. Mostly children use hand-washing taps, while adults use showers. Khainga says, “Apart from these free provisions, we sensitize residents through a public address system which reaches many people. We communicate in almost all local dialects found within Kibera to ensure nobody is left behind in Covid-19 information. We are educating people on the nine steps of proper handwashing, thus scrubbing using soap and running water for at least 20 seconds and regularly after every 20 minutes. We teach them how to wear masks and their importance, reasons for social distancing, which pose a challenge here but we are trying.” These stations have greatly improved Kibera’s community little by little. With people who invest in improvements like these, there is hope for a safer and cleaner future for Kibera.