, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 22 – More than half of the Kenyan population has access to clean water, President Uhuru Kenyatta has disclosed.
He said about 56 percent of Kenyans have access to reliable clean water, while 70 percent have access to clean sanitation.
He pointed out that the economic and social developments anticipated by Vision 2030 – Kenya’s development blueprint – sets a target of universal access to water and basic sanitation for all by 2030.
“My government, working with our devolved units of government which have the mandate for water and sanitation services provision, is wholly committed to meet the 2030 target,” President Kenyatta said.
He spoke Monday when he opened the 18th African Water Association (AFWA) International Congress and Exhibition at Kenyatta International Convention Centre.
Noting that Kenya is a water-scarce country with less than 1,000 cubic metres per capita of renewable freshwater resources, President Kenyatta said more needs to be done to scale up clean water accessibility.
He said that is why hosting the 18th Water Association International Congress is important to Kenya.
President Kenyatta emphasised the need to invest in research to set practical solutions to the challenges Africa faces in the provision of water and sanitation.
“Matters such as sustainable water resources management, the governance of water utilities, the promotion of information technology, the reduction of non-revenue water, together with reliable water distribution; prudent infrastructure development and adoption of best practices in operation and maintenance, must be thought about,” he said.
He observed that the United Nations, in the ‘World Water Report 2014’, projected that global water demand would rise some 55 percent by 2050.
“This means freshwater availability will be increasingly strained, and more than 40 percent of the world’s population will live in areas of severe water stress in 2050. What is most telling is that Africa will be among those worst affected,” the President said.
But the Head of State said it is not all gloom, citing the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme which details significant progress on access to drinking water and sanitation at the end of the Millennium Development Goals last year.
“The report indicates that 91 percent of the global population uses improved drinking water sources, up from 76 percent in 1990. This means that 6.6 billion people in the world have access to improved sources of drinking water. Those without access stand at 663 million – the very first time the number has fallen below 700 million,” he said.
President Kenyatta praised the African Water Association – formed in 1980 – saying it is making strides in ensuring that member countries work together to improve service delivery.
Water and Irrigation Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa said it was important for the Government to invest in water for agriculture, industry and domestic use.
He said Kenya has increased its water budget from $5 million (Sh500 million) to $450 million (Sh45 billion) in 10 years.
“This is a good effort, but more needs to be done,” Wamalwa said, disclosing that Kenya beat South Africa in bidding to host the 18th Africa Water Association International Congress.
Other speakers included Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero and African Water Association President Hamanth Kassan.
Kidero said water scarcity could cause disease and stagnate economic growth.
“Many people in Africa do not have access to clean water. But Kenya is doing everything to ensure its people have clean water,” he said.
The Nairobi Governor said the meeting is a good forum for consultation and partnership.