The WASH joint monitoring programme report (2019) by The World Health Organization and UNICEF found that only 59% of Kenyans have access to basic water services and only 29% have access to sanitary services. Kenya aims to achieve 100% open defecation free status by 2030 in line with sustainable development goal number 6. Poverty has been associated with open defecation. HIV/AIDS disproportionately affects the poor and those whose living conditions are overcrowded and lack access to clean water, medical care, and proper nutrition. Approximately 1.6 m Kenyans live with HIV and require comprehensive care to boost resilience and lead healthier lives.
Poor WASH practices especially in the slum areas exert a heavy toll on people living with HIV&AIDS. PLHIV are more susceptible to facial to oral diseases such as typhoid, dysentery, hepatitis A and E and cholera, as well as skin diseases. PLHIV are six times more likely to acquire a diarrheal disease than non-infected persons. The additional bouts of diarrhea and the opportunistic infections experienced by HIV-infected individuals also increase the workload for their caregivers. Distances to sanitation and waste disposal facilities, as well as to clean water sources, pose a significant challenge and add a burden to household labor.
WASH services are also critical during the recovery phase of a disease outbreak to mitigate secondary impacts on community livelihoods and wellbeing. These secondary impacts—which could include disruptions to supply chains, inability to pay bills, or panic-buying—have negative impacts on the continuity and quality of water and sanitation services, the ability of affected households to access and pay for WASH services and products (for instance, soap, point of use water treatment or menstrual hygiene products) and the ability of schools, workplaces and other public spaces to maintain effective hygiene protocols when they re-open. If not managed, secondary impacts can increase the risk of further spreading water borne diseases, including potential disease outbreaks such as cholera, particularly where the disease is endemic.
According to a WHO/UNICEF technical brief on WASH and waste management for COVID-19:
• Frequent and proper hand hygiene is one of the most important measures that can be used to prevent infection with the COVID-19 virus. WASH services should enable more frequent and regular hand hygiene by improving facilities and using proven behavior change techniques.
• WHO guidance on the safe management of drinking water and sanitation services applies to the COVID-19 outbreak. Measures that go above and beyond these recommendations are not needed.
• Many co-benefits will be realized by safely managing WASH services and applying good hygiene practices. Such efforts will prevent other infectious diseases, which cause millions of deaths each year