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Lobbyists oppose more flower farms

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 22 – Civil society organisations on Tuesday marked the World Water Day with a special request to the government to stop any further licensing of flower farms in Naivasha.

The lobbyists claimed that flower farms had been contaminating Kenya\’s water systems by disposing waste products in nearby lakes in total disregard of the laid down procedures.

Kenya Water and Sanitation Civil Society Network Secretary General, Stephen Mutoro, said that the flower farms should be investigated by the National Environmental Management Authority, the ministries of water and public health as well as any other line agencies.

"Contamination is something that is manmade and can be avoided. One of the problems is that the companies that are licensed are too many and the second is how they manage their waste so the best way forward is to stop any further licensing," he said.

He further proposed that the government creates laws that would ensure flower farms took up projects aimed at saving the lakes as part of their performance contracts.

He added that it was also important for the government to start mapping out the proper distribution of water services in preparation for the county system.

"We need that taskforce because it is going to become very complicated after next year\’s elections. Policies will be done at the national level and will be implemented at the county level. We are likely to see more water services boards and technical challenges that could make it difficult," he said.

Mr Mutoro also said that the country\’s ground water levels were declining and that Kenya should invest in long term water harvesting systems. 

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He said that the country needed to increase the capacity of water resources in order to handle the rising demand.

"Hydro geologists say that water seems to be going down by one to two metres annually. What that means is that you can only get reliable water say in Nairobi at around 300 metres. So supposing that in the next 10 years you can only get water at a depth of 1000 metres, what does that mean? And we\’re headed there," he said.

The civil societies also asked the government to reduce the legal and administrative barriers in the water sector so as to attract more investors.

Mr Mutoro however lauded efforts made by the government so far in addressing the water demand noting that spending in the sector had increased from Sh4 billion to Sh26 billion over the last 11 years.

"Days when governments across the world were giving end user services are long gone, particularly in Africa. In terms of service delivery you would like to create a conducive environment for the private sector to work in so that they can help reach some of the areas that are uncovered," he said. 

He added that it was vital for Kenyans not to politicise the water sector if any of the projects that were undertaken were to bear fruit.

Water and Sanitation Specialist (World Bank) Japheth Mbuvi explained that one out of four city residents in Africa and Asia lived without access to improved sanitation with the situation worsening in informal settlements.

"In Kenya 30 to 60 percent (regional variations) of the urban dwellers reside within informal settlements. And the current water coverage stands at 59 percent with only 29 percent accessing sanitation," he noted.

Mr Mutoro added that the government should ensure that those living in informal settlements had access to proper sanitation arguing that it would help fight water borne diseases.

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"There are situations where people are kicked out or denied access to housing in the slums if they have big families; probably because the abolition facilities are not enough," he said.

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