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Rhodes College

Publication Date

Spring 2017

Program Name

Kenya: Urbanization, Health, and Human Rights


Kenyan cities are experiencing a serious dilemma in dealing with the large influx of people from rural parts of the country to the cities. Most people come to the city in pursuit of better opportunities and jobs. Rapid urban growth with little planning and preparation by the national and county governments has led to the development of informal settlements. These informal settlements are characterized by poor environmental conditions that predispose their residents for poor health conditions. Because of their illegal status, most residents of informal settlements in Kenya do not receive government services such as water, drainage, sewerage, and rubbish collection. This study will focus specifically on the lack of proper water supply in these informal settlements. Informal settlements usually use well water, public taps, or water vendors in order to get the water they need. The water options are not always adequate or safe. This study seeks to understand the use of well water in the informal settlement Obunga located in Kisumu County, Kenya. The study looks at the proximity of wells to pit latrines and how this affects the bacteriological quality of the water. The results found that there was no correlation between well contamination and distance from pit latrine and no correlation between diarrheal disease and the distance of a water source from a pit latrine. There was, however, a correlation between drinking dirty water and experiencing diarrhea. This finding suggests that contaminated water does indeed cause diarrhea. The study also found that there was not adequate access to safe drinking water in Obunga since 100% of the sampled wells tested positive for fecal coliforms. Taps were found to be the safest water source with only 10% contamination, but there are simply not enough taps in Obunga to serve the growing population of residents.


African Studies | Civil Engineering | Digestive System Diseases | Environmental Health and Protection | Environmental Policy | Health Policy | Parasitic Diseases | Urban Studies | Urban Studies and Planning | Water Resource Management


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