, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 22 – Forty per cent of Kenyan households still lack access to clean water.
As the country joined other nations in marking World Water Day, stakeholders in the sector have emphasized the need to secure water sources for continuous water provision.
While launching the WaterAid East Africa new strategy to improve Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) across the East African region; Regional Programme Manager Ronnie Murungu noted the need for improved infrastructure especially in emerging towns on water provision.
“We have a small town’s WASH programme where we are building the capacity of small towns in terms of WASH service delivery but at the same time investing in infrastructure as well as assets particularly water meters to address non-revenue water,” he said.
At a time when water privatization is seen as a negative in developing countries because of the high costs that are passed along to the impoverished, lack of development here means a lack of piping, sanitation or tanker service.
Rural areas of Kenya are left without water and urban areas aren’t much better off, with lack of enough funding towards ensuring proper pumping stations and piping systems which are often pirated and in disrepair.
Kenya’s natural water resources also do not provide an equitable delivery of water to the various regions of the country and the country’s water basins do not reach an equitable area of the country. This leaves most of the population without safe drinking water.
Rapid urbanization has also pushed poor urban dwellers to the slums, where there is no water or sanitation, and overcrowding exacerbates the already hazardous health conditions hence the need to secure water sources as well as cap wastage to achieve a continuous supply of water and storage in times of calamities.
“We can harvest water by inventing new water conservation technologies, improve irrigation and agricultural practices and educate to change consumption and lifestyles,” said Tanzania’s WaterAid Country Director Ibrahim Kabole.
“During the raining season, water is channeled into sewers instead of harvesting and recycling it for use. Our farms misuse water when irrigating crops as there is excessive consumption. A conservation technique such as the Precision irrigation by farmers would be of benefit in giving crops the right amount of water,” he added.
Water scarcity in Kenya has been an issue for decades, as only a small percentage of the country’s land is optimal for agriculture and the year round climate is predominantly arid.
“How responsible are we with the use of the resource that we have? We have the technology, water recycling processes but there is also the management of that water,” said the Regional Director WaterAid East Africa Olutayo B-Bowale .
Also attributing to the current drought status of the country, she highlighted the need to take heed of the Early warning systems which is crucial to responding in time before a calamity strikes.
She stated that identifying the correct response at the right time for the neediest people, will ensure that any future emergency funds provided by county or state are used to best effect.
With a population of 46 million, 41 percent of Kenyans still rely on unimproved water sources, such as ponds, shallow wells and rivers, while 59 percent of Kenyans use unimproved sanitation solutions. These challenges are especially evident in the rural areas and the urban slums.
Globally, there are still 844 million people who do not have clean water close to home, impacting human and economic development.
In Kenya, 40pc of households are without access to clean water close to home, according to a 2017 Joint monitoring Programme, a body set up by UNICEF and the World Health Organization to collect data on water and sanitation.
The statistics show that whilst progress has been made through government efforts, if East Africa is to achieve the ambitious targets of the Sustainable Development goals, there is need to accelerate progress in this area.
She stated key challenges that need to be addressed to improve water provision include sustainability – particularly in rural WASH services.
The theme for World Water Day 2019 is ‘Leaving no one behind’. This is an adaptation of the central promise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: as sustainable development progresses, everyone must benefit.
The theme focuses on efforts towards including people who have been marginalized or ignored.
“Water services must meet the needs of marginalized groups and their voices must be heard in decision-making processes. Regulatory and legal frameworks must recognize the right to water for all people, and sufficient funding must be fairly and effectively targeted at those who need it most,” she said.[cresta-social-share]