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Search for water turns tragic as women, children die in killer wells

Rescuer try to dig through the soil in a well that collapsed burying two sisters who had gone to scope water in the water hole in Lopeduru village in Turkana East Sub County. Akai Ekomwa, 14 year old girl died in the tragedy when she was buried in the sand while her sister Akeno Ekomwa was rescued. PHOTO: LUCAS NGASIKE/STANDARD

Akeno Ekomwa, 12, escaped death when walls of a well caved in as she was fetching water in Lopeduru in Turkana East.

Unfortunately her sister Akai 14, was buried alive in the well that has now become a death trap for residents.

“I left home with my sister in search of water. We had slept hungry and thirsty for a couple of days. After trekking for several kilometres, we ended up at a well. Unfortunately the walls of the well collapsed and buried us. I am lucky to have survived after I was rescued by residents but my sister died,” said Akeno.

Area assistant Chief Gideon Ikaal admitted that water crisis has reached unprecedented level due to drought that in the region.

Ikaal noted that more than 8,000 people are facing acute water shortage.

The administrator regretted that this has forced schools and health centres to close.

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“We lost a child in a well tragedy. The children went to scoop water in a well before the walls caved in and buried them. We managed to rescue one girl who is now recuperating at home. We have no operational medical facility in our locality,” Ikaal said.

Lokichoggio administrator Daniel Losil Kakure said women and children dig water holes during the dry season which frequently collapse and cause death

Protest

He regretted that at least four women were buried alive and two others rescued when the walls of a well caved in at Lolita watering point where they had taken livestock.

“It is a culture here that women are the ones scooping water from deep wells to water livestock. We regret they are left to venture into digging deep wells along riverbeds in search of water but unfortunately the wells frequently collapse living a trail of death.”

Residents barricaded the Lopeduru-Kangirisae road to protest the escalating cases of collapsing wells in the region.

A resident, Patrick Eguman said drought has forced residents to dig along river beds in search of water exposing themselves to danger of being buried alive when the walls cave in.

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“It is a risky venture as drought has compelled people to dig holes in loose soil in search of water, often leading to collapse of the walls causing deaths. We appeal to the government to drill boreholes in the region. The national and county governments should set aside funds for water projects in the region. Our plight has been ignored. They should not wait for more people to die before they can act,” said Mr Eguman.

Another resident Alice Ekai said several people have been buried alive in search of water.

“Our livestock have perished because of lack of water and pasture due to persistent drought. We have lost our children in wells. It’s regrettable to lose people and animals when authorities do nothing to address the problem,” Ms Ekai said.

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