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Water and Hygiene Challenges for Women and Young Girls in Tana River County.

Water and Hygiene Challenges for Women and Young Girls in Tana River County.

Tana River County is one of the counties in Kenya where research has revealed several challenges in water and hygiene, specifically for women and young girls. Still, even now, residents of the county need access to clean water and toilets without any problems.

According to the current investigation, the availability of clean water in Tana River County needs to be revised. As reported in the recent health sector ministerial reports, across the country, only 40% of the population effectively has a source of safe drinking water. He noted that this has especially become acute in rural areas and has directly affected women and young girls in particular. The women usually must forage for water, and this may involve extended journeys, sometimes covering up to 10 kilometers to get to the water source. They are usually contaminated and would subject the people to severe health hazards.

For this reason, Tana River County also lacks proper sanitation facilities. According to KNBS data, only a third of households have access to improved sanitation facilities, a sign that the country has a long way to go in improving the lives of its citizens. Such social hygiene practices as open defecation are still in practice, especially in the rural setting, hence increasing the prevalence of waterborne diseases, including cholera, dysentery, and typhoid.

The effects are even worse for women and young girls in the given situation. Inadequate sanitation facilities to deal with such mishaps are still a common sight in many schools, which results in high levels of absenteeism and poor performance, particularly among females in their menstrual cycle. A school-based assessment by the Tana River County Health Department revealed that only 40 percent of schools provide MHM amenities. Unfortunately, this weak infrastructure makes many girls drop out of school during their menstrual periods, which makes poverty and gender disparity cyclic.

Several measures have been taken to tackle these problems. Since the United Nations launched the Millennium Development Goal in 2000, the Kenyan government, in conjunction with NGOs, has been focusing on enhancing water and sanitation facilities. WASH—Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene is a project that assesses and implements solutions in water and sanitation to ensure they are sustainable.

According to Dr. Mercy Mwangangi, Chief Administrative Secretary at the Ministry of Health, even these interventions are essential. “Housing needs a face-lift, especially in developing regions; these are the hearts of our communities’ water and sanitation facilities play a critical role in the health standards of all citizens, not to mention the productive and highly vulnerable in our society, the women and young girls,” she said during a recent press briefing.

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