Clean Camps Improve Health in Kenya

CRS continues to respond to the post-election crisis in Kenya. Recently, staff from CRS and the Catholic Diocese of Eldoret trained 18 volunteers to serve as hygiene promoters in camps in the Eldoret area of western Kenya. One volunteer, Milka Nyambura Kariuki, lives with 2,000 other displaced people in the Burnt Forest camp. Here she shares how she is working with other volunteers to teach residents about improving camp sanitation and personal hygiene:

Volunteer hygiene promoter Milka Nyambura Kariuki is helping her fellow residents improve sanitation in the camp they are living in after being displaced by the post-election violence in Kenya. Photo by Gilbert Namwonja/CRS

Here I educate community members on hygiene and how to keep our neighborhood clean. Eighteen of us were trained, and later on we divided ourselves into different hygiene promotion groups. I was placed in the hygiene education group. In our group, the activities that we carry out include educating people on how to keep their water containers clean, how to boil water and how to use latrines well.

We also trained people on how to wrap food well because of contamination by house flies. We were taught that house flies can cause diseases like diarrhea, vomiting and even headaches.

As a result of our activities, we have witnessed change in the camp. Our IDP camp has become very clean. For example, the other day we carried out house-to-house visits and saw that people’s water containers were clean, food was well wrapped, and they are keeping their surroundings clean all over. Even if you visit the water points, you will find that containers are very clean. Before our activities, people also used latrines poorly, but now they use them well.

I would like to praise Catholic Relief Services very much because I did not expect to receive such training. Now I have changed as a person, and I have become a good example to others, because we were trained to be models for them. Now they practice hygiene as required.

Although peace is now holding, 150,000 people displaced by earlier violence are still living in camps. An additional 130,000 are estimated to be living with friends or relatives, too scared to return home.

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