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Kenya Wildlife Service Community Support deworms 650 children through rhino study
Date Published: 23 Apr, 2010
Kenya Wildlife Service community support is popularly known to focus on provision of social amenities based on three pillars of education and health facilities and provision of water. However, a unique and direct corporate responsibility on public health “de-worming of school children” was extended to the communities around Meru National Park through a rhino study. The study funded by Forestry Bureau of Taiwan seeks to establish whether presence of worms in humans and the environment is contributing to heavy worm-load in the black rhino
During sample collection for this study, some 650 children provided their fecal samples for analysis. Up to 30 per cent of the samples were found to be infested with intestinal worms. As an extension of the KWS social corporate responsibility programme and in partnership with the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), the children with worm-infested samples were de-wormed and all others given anti-worm medication. In addition, the communities around the Park were educated on the importance of good sanitation and effects of worms on human health
The main source of water for the rhinos and other animals in Meru National Park are 14 rivers originating from the heavily settled Nyambene ranges. Sanitation in this area is generally poor with some of families having no pit latrines. Most of these effluents find their way into the rivers and thus contaminate drinking water for wildlife as well as for the surrounding communities.
KWS community support programme’s purpose is to reach out to communities who co-exist with wildlife and who bear the cost of hosting wildlife on their land. The progamme is geared towards winning support for conservation through poverty reduction and improvement of livelihoods by initiating beneficial and sustainable community-based projects. The premise is that if communities’ draw benefit from wildlife conservation, then they will sustainably conserve it as a national heritage and for future generations.
One of the rhino programme’s strategic objectives is to reach out to communities by promoting the establishment of community rhino conservation through partnerships and the generation of goodwill from neighborhoods to all rhino conservation areas. This gesture of de-worming, education on sanitation and its linkage with rhinos is viewed to create goodwill and enhance good relations with communities living around rhino conservation areas.