Clean water eliminates leading cause of blindness
Narok District Trachoma Project
Drilling well in Ongata Naado
The district of Narok in the
Great Rift Valley of Kenya is vast, with a population of over 500,000 people.
Narok is home to the Maasai tribes, nomadic pastoralists who have lived in the
area for generations.
Trachoma is the most common and widespread eye problem in the Narok District and
across Kenya. Transmitted by flies and made worse by both cultural and
environmental factors, the disease affects more than 30 percent of the
population. Trachoma infects the eyes and scars the eyelids, which over time
causes the eyelashes to turn inwards and painfully scrape against the cornea. Left
untreated, trachoma leads to blindness.
In 2007, Operation Eyesight
began the Narok District Trachoma Project with the goal of ending blinding
trachoma. The project involves the implementation and coordination of the World
Health Organization-endorsed SAFE strategy: Surgery, Antibiotics, Face-washing and
A major step in the
eradication of trachoma is the provision of clean, protected water sources. Since
the program began we have created 51 water points, including bore holes and
water catchment systems.
Is the program working? Throughout
the district the prevalence of trachoma has dropped dramatically, and in the
village of Ongata Naado, where the first bore hole was drilled, trachoma has ceased
to be a problem. Similar results are expected in other communities.
Our plan is to apply this
successful strategy to other districts in Kenya. With the help of our
generous donors, the people of this region are seeing a day when trachoma is no
longer a threat.