Health fears as sewage floods Pipeline area in Nairobi

Clogged water ways caused by poor drainage system has become the order of the day for the residents and businesses in Kware-Pipeline, Nairobi.A number of pathways have been rendered impassable due to flooding caused sewerage waste.PHOTO DAVID NJAAGA/STANDARD}

Residents of Kware-Pipeline Estate are worried that widespread sewage spillage could lead to a disease outbreak. The dirty water runs for about a kilometre, meandering around houses, leaving in its wake life-threatening effects.

Pools of dirty water have become dumping grounds for garbage, which have become rich breeding sites for mosquitoes.

Pauline Syokau, a resident, is a woman living in great discomfort. The squalid living conditions surrounding her are summed up in the stench that engulfs her house and the filthy sewage water that threatens to drown her.

“I recently fell ill and I suspect this was caused by the smell of this water. I had headache and stomachache, so I bought antibiotics. I did not go to hospital. I do not have money,” said Mrs Syokau.

CHILDREN VULNERABLE

Neighbours endure the same problems. Most families have young children, who risk their health daily at a nearby playground, most of which is covered with sewage water. Even the dry pathways have traces of the dirty water.

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“I have young children in primary school. Most of them complain of stomachache and headache. I frequently treat them with simple antibiotics,” said Syokau.

She added that her husband was the latest victim, complaining of feeling ill.

Most families living here have to make frequent visits to hospital. The worst time for them is meal times when the wind is blowing, bringing the foul smell into their houses.

A few metres from a pool full of human waste is a chemist run by Lilian Kavata. The shop has been in operation for five months.

Kavata says she can easily predict the kinds of ailments most of her clients suffer from the way her stock moves.

“Most people here buy antimalarial drugs and antibiotics. I can say most of them suffer from typhoid fever, malaria, and stomach problems,” said Kavata.

She laments at the environmental situation that she says puts the lives of residents, especially children, at risk. She says it is not uncommon to see boys playing football on the filthy playground and then start eating with their unwashed hands.

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According to Kavata, most of the cases she handles involve children who fall ill after eating contaminated food. She says on average, she serves three patients every day with symptoms of waterborne diseases.

Mr Francis Nyangaresi says he thinks the county government has not done enough to address the root cause of the problem.

WASTE SPILLS

He says that the county officials only repair the main sewerage line that runs along the main road. However, no effort is made to notify the owners of the houses from which waste spills out.

Nyangaresi claims that the problem was started by private developers who built blocks of flats with poor drainage systems.

It appears that even politicians visiting the area to seek votes have either failed to notice the problems of the area residents or have decided to give them a wide berth.

When contacted about the matter, the Nairobi County executive in charge of health, Mr Benard Muia, claimed that he was not aware of the problem. However, he promised to pass the message to the relevant department to handle the problem

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