Services paralysed as water shortage hits health centres in Tiaty

Riongo dispensary Nursing officer in charge Stephen Saban attends to a patient under a tree on February 15, 2018 in Tiaty,Baringo county. [Photo by Kipsang Joseph/Standard]

Health services have been grounded in Tiaty due to an acute shortage of water.

Medical staff need water to their wash hands before and after attending to patients. Patients also need water to take medicine.

This therefore forces health workers to look for water before attending to patients.

At Riong'o heath centre, we find desperate patients waiting for the nurses to return from fetching water to attend to them.

The nurses walk for up to 10km in search of the precious commodity, residents say.

"We cannot operate without water and since there is no alternative, we have to fetch water before attending to patients," Stephen Saban, the nursing officer in charge of the facility, tells The Standard as he returns carrying a 20-litre jerrycan.

He says they have not had water since January after exhausting their reservoirs. "Lack of water has affected delivery of services. The problem has been compounded by the prolonged drought," says Saban.

Additional expenses

The medical officer says they pay for the water out of their pocket, adding he spends up to Sh2, 000 every month on water.

"If we don't buy water, then we cannot treat the patients. This has been the challenge we have been facing for two months now. This is an additional expense but what options do we have?" he poses.

"Sometimes, we get water from vendors from Chemolingot, over 30km away."

The dispensary serves residents of Naudo, Mlima Paka and Silale villages.

The situation is worse at Top Lane dispensary after nurses closed it down until the water crisis is resolved.

"The hospital was closed down after it became hard to offer services due to lack of water," says a resident, Maria Lodiyo.

Residents now trek to Chemolingot hospital, several kilometres away, for treatment. They say it is a tough journey, especially for women and children. There are no vehicles on the route.

At Nakoko dispensary, cleaning is done only twice a week unlike before when they used to clean twice a day.

Water levels in the only borehole the facility relies on have sharply dropped.

"Residents and their animals also depend on the borehole. The borehole is the only source of water we have," says Catherine Korireng’, a cleaner at the dispensary.

She adds: "The only other time we are forced to clean is when there is a delivery."

County health Chief Officer Richard Koech says plans are under way to supply water to affected hospitals. "We will use water boozers to supply the water,” said Koech.

Baringo is one of the 20 counties hardest hit by drought that has also affected food production.