Press Release - Kenya
“Emergency teams with the IRC and NRC are working around the clock to contain this outbreak,” says Kellie Leeson, IRC country director. “However, the spread of cholera is hard to prevent when people are living in congested conditions and don’t have enough clean water or adequate sanitation. There is an urgent need to allocate more land here to house and help refugees from Somalia.”
An average of 5,000 Somalis are streaming into Dadaab every month — fleeing ongoing violence at home. Most arrive dehydrated, exhausted and hungry, which make them more susceptible to disease. Hagadera, one of three camps in Dadaab, was originally designed for 50,000 people, but is now home to 90,000 refugees making the pressure on existing resources intense.
“Good sanitation is vital to prevent disease outbreaks and there is a pressing need for at least 34,000 family latrines across Dadaab’s camps,” says Mohamed Mechmache, NRC’s country director. “More land and funding is urgently required if agencies are to respond immediately and effectively.”
Both the IRC and NRC are members of an emergency rapid assessment team set up to respond to the current outbreak.
In Hagadera, the IRC is treating cases at a special isolation ward and is working closely with UNHCR to set up a separate recovery ward. The IRC is also transporting extra fluids, zinc (used in the treatment of diarrhea), cholera beds and infection control items such as soap, gloves and facemasks to the camp. The IRC’s four health posts and hospital are carrying out rapid tests for cholera on site, with suspected positive samples being sent to Nairobi for final confirmation.
At the same time, IRC community health workers are going from shelter to shelter to identify further potential cases. They are also educating households on simple steps to prevent further spread of the water-borne disease, such as washing hands with soap, using latrines, and purifying water.
NRC is the leading shelter and sanitation agency across Dadaab’s three camps. Since November 2008, NRC has built and repaired more than 3,000 household, communal, school and hospital latrines in Dadaab and plans to reach around 13,000 latrines by the end of 2009, but only if adequate land and resources are forthcoming.
Currently, NRC is scaling up staff numbers to monitor areas in Hagadera that have a history of cholera and to assess potential breakouts. Since the beginning of February 2009, NRC has already repaired 50 overflowing latrines in the areas that currently have outbreaks, as well as providing emergency latrines to support the expansion of isolation wards.
To date, more than 244,000 Somalia refugees have fled ongoing violence at home and sought shelter in Dadaab. More than 62,000 Somalis arrived in Kenya in 2008 alone. These numbers show no imminent sign of decreasing, as Somalia has not had a functioning government since 1991 and Islamist militias control much of the country, despite the recent election of new president Sheikh Sharif Ahmed.Media Contact
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