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Water crisis hits Kakuma camp

Author: Daniel Danis | Published: Tuesday, December 8, 2020

A young boy scoops contaminated water from the sandy Tarach river in Kakuma, Kenya, on December 7, 2020 | Credit | Rita Brown

Families at Kakuma refugee camp in north-western Kenya have raised concerns over an ongoing water crisis in the camp.

The refugees say they have been forced to fetch dirty underground water from the seasonal Tarach River.

To get the water, women and children say they have to dig out sand from the bottom of the river, create a hole to reach the water point, then collect it with jerricans.

It is this water that they use for drinking, cooking, bathing and washing.

According to a young journalist at Kakuma, the problem has been ongoing for the last 12 months.

Rita Apio, who is also a yoga instructor and social advocate, says thousands of families are often left without clean water because the taps within the communities are usually opened for just 45 minutes a day.

Ms Rita stated that they have been told the mechanical water pumps do not have enough fuel to pump water into the tanks.

“Those responsible for the water supply will tell you there is no fuel,” she told Eye Radio on Monday.

“This has forced all of us –all over Kakuma – to go to the dry river every morning and evening to fetch water.”

Ms Rita added that the dry river point has also become a source of conflict as people struggle over space for fetching water.

Aid organizations have warned that contaminated water of the river often results in waterborne diseases within the camp.

The supply of clean water in the camp is supported by the Norwegian Refugee Agency, which wasn’t immediately available for a comment.

According to the UN Refugee Agency, Kakuma Refugee Camp and the adjacent Kalobeyei Settlement area is home to 200,000 people.

Most of them are refugees from South Sudan who escaped violence and hunger.

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