Risk assessment of Sanitation and water Infrastructure in informal settlements of Kisumu: Implications for Hygiene and Public Health

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Calvince Othoo
Daniel Olago
Richard Ayah


Sanitation facilities; risk, traditional pits; water supply infrastructure


Risk assessment encompasses assessment and reporting of the potential harm, danger and health concerns arising from the use or contact with potentially harmful materials or substance. In the context of urban sanitation and water, risk assessment may involve the assessment of the likely harm arising from the use of unprotected or unimproved water and sanitation facilities and likelihood of injuries that such facilities may exert on the community. Urban informal settlements, which remain the face of urban vulnerability in most developing countries, are dominated by unprotected sanitation facilities and water sources which have subsequently exacerbated the urban social and health vulnerabilities and risks. This article assessed risks from sanitation and water infrastructure in urban informal settlements and their implications on community hygiene and public health using the case study from Kisumu City, Kenya. The article is based on data collected using a modified WASHFIT risk assessment tool developed by the WHO. One hundred and fourteen water sources and 460 sanitation facilities were covered by the study. Findings from the study revealed that 87% of water sources studied were shared by multiple households, while 65% and were unprotected. Some improvements had been undertaken in only less than 20% of sanitation facilities, with large proportion accounting for the ventilated improved pit latrine type. The remaining more than one fifth or 80% of the facilities were poorly constructed traditional pit latrines. Water quality findings revealed that nitrate and thermotolerant coliform levels were higher across most water sources and beyond the minimum recommended thresholds by WHO drinking water standards. On the risk assessment scale, 67% of water sources and 70% sanitation facilities were categorised as “risky” respectively.

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