Why that ‘sukumawiki’ could be deadly

Along Mwiki-Njiru road, just at the bend where trucks empty sewage into the city’s sewer, are thriving farms of lush green sukumawiki and traditional vegetables.

The vegetable farms get their water from the polluted Nairobi River.

Occasionally, especially at night, some rogue sewage truck drivers empty the content into the river.

A spot check by the Saturday Nation in Mwiki, Kibera, Kayole and Njiru revealed that farmers in those areas openly use the sewage-polluted Nairobi River water to irrigate their farms whose vegetables end up on the dinner tables of many unsuspecting residents.

Of greater concern is that Nairobi residents living on the banks of the river have for years been using the contaminated water for farming, despite the knowledge of the authorities.

Ms Elizabeth Wambui, a vegetable farmer in Mwiki, admitted that they use the water to irrigate their farms.

“We don’t have any other water to use,” she said, adding that she sells the vegetables in Korogocho, Ngomongo, Kasarani and parts of Eastlands.

Wholesalers also buy the vegetables before retailing them to traders in neighbouring estates.

“Because it is difficult to carry water from the river, some of us use pumps while others have constructed small canals through which the water flows directly from the river into the farms,” another farmer said.

Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company said it runs a comprehensive water monitoring system at various sampling points within its distribution network daily.

Schools in Nairobi have also been on high alert following the cholera outbreak.

READ: Nairobi staring at full blown cholera epidemic

READ: City officers ‘ignored us on cholera alert’

Ms Agnes Michiri, the head teacher of Riruta Satellite Primary School in Kawangware, said she had asked pupils to carry their own water from home.

In Kisii, authorities warned lack of clean water in schools posed a health risk while Nyamira public health officials in the four sub-counties said they were closely monitoring the situation to avert a cholera outbreak in the region.

And Bomet authorities said they had put in place mechanisms in case of an outbreak.


In Kitale, pupils of Feedlot Primary School are at risk of contracting the disease because of the poor state of latrines.

The pupils have been forced to relieve themselves in the bushes.

In Kakamega, officials have banned hawking of food in the streets, Dr Arthur Andere the county’s Health director said.

Additional reporting by Geoffrey Rono, Gerald Bwisa, Judy Mito, Fadhili Fredrick, Elgar Machuka and Henry Nyarora


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