UN agencies respond to deadly outbreak of cholera in north-western Kenya

Contamination of drinking water is the cause of Kenya's cholera outbreak

17 December 2009 – United Nations humanitarian agencies are providing emergency supplies and other forms of assistance to Kenyan Government officials as they respond to an outbreak of cholera in the northwest of the country that has left at least 26 people dead.

More than 200 cases of cholera have now been reported in the outbreak, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said today, with most deaths occurring in relatively remote and inaccessible areas.

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has provided hygiene and sanitation supplies and begun working with authorities in Turkana East district to finalize a joint response plan to the outbreak.

OCHA reported that it has also conducted a joint assessment mission to two affected areas with officials from Kenya’s National Disaster Operation Centre and its Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation.

Cholera is an acute intestinal infection picked up through contaminated food or water, and results in diarrhoea that can lead to severe dehydration and death unless there is prompt treatment.

OCHA said the probability of contaminated water sources has increased in north-western Kenya because of the prolonged drought in the region, which has forced villagers and farmers to rely on water wells that are shared with both livestock and wild animals.


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