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Duntow: The forgotten little village town of Wajir County

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What will you make of a situation where a woman is in labor pain, the only available health facility is not operational and worse enough, network coverage to seek help is not an alternative either.

That has been the situation in Duntow village in Sarman ward, Tarbaj Constituency in Wajir County for several decades.

Since independence, inhabitants of the northern rural village located 150 kilometers northeast of Wajir town have been habituated to lack of network coverage.

Duntow primary school and the village dispensary stand out in the rural setting; where residents use Hori (Somali traditional huts made from locally available reeds) as their abode.

Aura of sadness is vivid in residents’ faces when narrating their ordeal since the village came into existence.

Ravaging drought

Fortunately, nature has mitigated the consistent drought the county has faced in the past years. Ironically, many livestock drowns into various water points, leaving the pastoral community to cry out loud for divine intervention.

Amina, 47, mother of six, hopes one day the narrative will be dissimilar.

In the midday, the scorching sun intensifies the heat in the village, with temperatures trending at 37 degrees Celsius.

“Accessing health service in the village is not a walk in the park. The dispensary, which had basic health services, is no longer operational.

If a woman suffers from pregnancy complications, it becomes difficult to get medical help”, narrates Amina, holding her one-year-old by the hand.

She adds that movement is yet another challenge owing to the fact that without network coverage getting means of transport from the neighboring villages or even Tarbaj Sub County headquarter is impossible.

Since a new county government has been created, the health facility reaped less from the second term devolution.

Health crisis

According to a report released by United Nations Population Fund, over half of deaths occur during delivery in some counties including Wajir.

However, birth-related complications can greatly be reduced when women give birth at health facilities.

A few meters from her home is the homestead of Bashane Ibrahim.  He is in his mid-seventies and he is one of the village elders.

He wears a white prayer cap and in the middle of his wrinkled forehead is a dark gray prayer bump, a true revelation that he prays regularly.

He laments how authorities; both county and national governments, have been neglecting them for decades.

“As you can see the only health facility in the area is not operational currently”, pointing towards the village dispensary.

“In case anything happens to anyone in the village, there is no health service available, be it delivering woman or any other medical condition that calls for emergency service”, he expresses his displeasure.

Having his children enrolled in Duntow primary school, he is quick to admit that education has become the only unifying factor for the area and the country as a whole.

He pleads with the local government to speed up the process of improving the health facility by making drugs available and employing qualified health workers.

Another nightmare, according to the residents, is poor sanitation during the rainy season, which emanates from earth water pans without a proper fence.

The water, which is unsafe for human consumption will ultimately increase the risk of water-borne diseases such as typhoid, bilharzia and cholera.

As much as the challenge can be solved through local arrangements, proper medication is paramount if such deadly diseases are perchance contracted.

Network problem

Adan Bashane, in his mid-twenties, can’t fathom how a whole government with the responsibility of its citizens hunched under its shoulder fails to provide a proper communication network.

Having completed high school a year ago, as he says, employment opportunities are nowhere in the vicinity.

Concentrating his thoughts on the contentious issue of network coverage, he angrily recounts the agony of living in an area without essential communication.

“It is painful when you lose your loved one and back at home, due to network problem, you cannot be informed.

I was in Wajir town and my aunt died in the village. I came back after a week and was only shocked to hear the saddening news.

If we could access network, I could have joined the family mourning early enough”, he says, as a sign of emotional pain taking a toll on him.

Cost of communication

He adds that for the network to be accessed, you should part with KE 500 for transport in reaching the network point.

Children need vaccines against common preventable diseases such as tuberculosis, whooping cough, tetanus, diphtheria, polio and measles; for this village, it will remain a dream.

With Kenya making strides in telecommunication, residents of Duntow village wish and hope that one day, like other citizens, they will be at liberty to communicate with their loved ones, far and wide, without traveling distances searching for network coverage.