In the Aroso area, Suna East constituency, Migori County is a stream that has been the residents’ pride for decades.
The residents claim that for the past 15 years, they have been using the waters of the Aroso stream for domestic purposes including washing clothes, bathing and most remarkably drinking.
For the residents bordering the stream water losses rampant in Migori and its surrounding has never been a problem as they know where to find rescue when shortages arise.
The presence of the Aroso stream has also enabled the residents to save the little they earn from paying for the classy waters of Migori Water and Sanitation Company (MIWASCO).
However, currently, the locals are reading from a different script from the ones their parents knew.
Aroso waters are no longer fresh, the waters are no longer used for drinking but have been left to serve the residents with only water for washing their clothes.
The stream has been changed into a dumping site by the tenants who live near the stream as there is a lot of encroachment to the stream.
The waters of the stream have also been affected by the sewage as some of the houses in the area channel untreated sewage into the stream.
Perris Achieng, a resident of the Aroso area, says that the new landowners in the area have built their houses near the stream and channel their untreated sewage to the stream.
She adds that they also dump their wastes into the stream and they usually do this at night while taking advantage of the darkness.
Recounting an ordeal she went through over the past month, Mrs Achieng narrates that she went to draw some water from the stream but the state of the waters was pathetic as its colour was green and had a bad scent.
“It was in the afternoon when I went to draw water from the stream, I was surprised when I found the colour of the water to be green and smelling bad,” recounts Mrs Peris.
Ms Achieng adds that the dumping of waste along the stream, especially used pampers, polythene bags and plastic bottles is being contributed by the tenants who reside near the stream as they lack proper dumping sites in their rentals.
She blames the landlords and landladies for encouraging the pollution in the stream, pointing out that it is their carelessness that has made the tenants dump their wastes into the stream as they do not provide proper garbage collection points for their tenants.
“The people owning rentals along Aroso stream have highly contributed to the pollution of this stream because in most rental houses they lack proper garbage collection points. This leaves the tenants to dump their waste into the stream as the best option,” laments Ms Achieng.
Nyambate Stephen another resident in the area, reveals that over the recent years, some residents started complaining of developing stomach problems from the consumption of stream waters.
He outlined that findings from their inquiry after walking along the stream bewildered them as several homesteads and rental houses near the stream were channelling untreated seewage into the stream.
Despite their attempts together with youths from the area to discourage dumping into the stream and removing pipes that are releasing untreated effluents into the stream, after a short duration, the sewage was back into the stream.
“We removed pipes from the stream and warned them over releasing untreated sewage into the stream but it is like they never heed to our cries. To date they are still releasing the untreated sewage into the stream,” cries Nyambate.
Apart from the tenants being directly blamed for the pollution, Nyambate points out to the locals for having also contributed to the pollution of the Aroso stream.
According to Nyambate most of the locals do wash their clothes near the banks of the stream and pour the dirty water containing chemicals into the stream.
According to Mr Nyambate, the residents are supposed to draw water from the stream and use it to wash their clothes at home as one of the ways of preventing water pollution in the stream.
“Some residents from this area are also drawing us back as they are not following the measures we had put in place to curb the pollution in the stream. You will find some of them still washing their clothes near the stream and pouring the used waters back into the stream,” regrets Nyambate.
Bernard Nyagwea, a tenant who has stayed in the area for over 3 years, reveals that it was out of pressure that they had on their landlord that the landlord drilled a borehole for them.
Bernard says that he feared contracting waterborne diseases as they were using the contained waters of the Aroso stream for their domestic use and also for bathing.
“It was just out of pressure that we had on our landlord, making him provide us with a borehole so as to rescue us from the risk of contracting cholera and other water-borne diseases,” explained Bernard
In an exclusive interview, Migori County Chief Officer for Environment, Natural Resources, Climate Change and Disaster Management Mr Chacha Mwikwabe noted that he was so remorseful about the state of the area.
According to Mr Chacha, there is a need to bring sanity to the area by liaising with the Department of Housing and planning to sue the landlords whose tenants have turned the stream into a dumping site.
Additionally, he stressed on ensuring that all the house owners who have encroached on the stream and are releasing untreated sewage into the stream are relocated as they have breached the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) laws.
“We will ensure that all those who have encroached on the stream and are endangering the lives of the locals by channelling untreated sewage into the stream are relocated and sued in law courts for their evil acts,” said Mr Chacha.
The officer further explained that the County Government plans to collaborate with NEMA to launch awareness campaigns aimed at educating and engaging residents on the vital importance of keeping the streams clean.
Furthermore, he stressed the implementation of strict measures to hold the culprits accountable, asserting that public compliance with the law is crucial to maintaining the cleanliness of the rivers.