Economy, News

How Efficient Water Management Equals to Improved Quality Of Life

A recent World Bank advi­so­ry on water man­age­ment in Kenya has stirred nec­es­sary debate on the way we man­age water in our coun­try. In the advi­so­ry, the World Bank called for new con­ser­va­tion levies and increased reg­u­la­to­ry charges for water com­pa­nies. The pro­posed con­ser­va­tion levies will go towards the con­ser­va­tion of water resources. This how­ev­er means that water bills will increase a fact that is leav­ing a sour taste in the mouths of Kenyans who con­tin­ue to expe­ri­ence both water scarci­ty and water inequality.

Against this back­drop, we need to deci­sive­ly address these twin mal­adies of water scarci­ty and water inequal­i­ty. Water scarci­ty means that the demand for water exceeds the water sup­ply. Africa’s demand for water is expect­ed to quadru­ple by 2030. Due to this, water scarci­ty will prob­a­bly increase dras­ti­cal­ly, which will increase water inequality.

We often talk about finan­cial inequal­i­ty but rarely men­tion water inequal­i­ty yet it is poten­tial­ly more lethal. Two decades ago, Africa’s aver­age water con­sump­tion was 47 liters per per­son per day, which was the low­est in the world. It was a far cry from the USA’s aver­age water con­sump­tion of 578 liters per per­son per day. Twen­ty years lat­er, the sit­u­a­tion has hard­ly changed. This can be clear­ly seen in both rur­al and urban house­holds all across Kenya. That’s why we must revis­it the quan­ti­ty and qual­i­ty of water that is flow­ing into Kenyan households.

The jour­ney that water trav­els from catch­ment areas in the forests to our taps has become increas­ing­ly haz­ardous. Pres­i­dent Uhu­ru recent­ly touched on the need to pro­tect this water jour­ney. He ordered NEMA to clean upstream rivers that flow into Thwake Dam, which he was inspect­ing. Among those upstream rivers is the heav­i­ly pol­lut­ed Nairo­bi River.

If con­ser­va­tion levy will mean restora­tion of these rivers and increased pro­tec­tion of our water tow­ers, then it will make sense. Fur­ther to this, if pay­ing a bit more will result in Kenyans demand­ing val­ue for their mon­ey, then it will be a plus for the coun­try since water ser­vice providers will have to dras­ti­cal­ly step up their game.

One of the areas that Kenyans need to see an increased return on their invest­ment is waste­water treat­ment. Once water pass­es through our taps, it soon becomes waste­water after we use it. After that, we for­get about the water, yet it is still water. We must change this by turn­ing our waste­water into healthy water that can feed our farms. This can only hap­pen by the con­struc­tion of a par­al­lel water infra­struc­ture that will pump recy­cled waste­water into farms across Kenya. Waste­water treat­ment and sub­se­quent dis­tri­b­u­tion to farms will great­ly aid in tack­ling Kenya’s water scarcity.

Africa already los­es bil­lions every year due to water scarci­ty. Five per­cent of the con­ti­nen­t’s GDP goes down the drain as a result of water scarci­ty. Con­sid­er­ing that agri­cul­ture, which is the main employ­er across Africa is heav­i­ly reliant on water, mil­lions of Africans are out of jobs because of water scarci­ty in their countries.

Accord­ing to the African Devel­op­ment Bank, Africa needs to invest near­ly Kes7 Tril­lion into the water sec­tor if it is to meet the 2025 Africa Water Vision for all. Thank­ful­ly, Kenya is already invest­ing bil­lions into dam con­struc­tion. Some of the dams cur­rent­ly being con­struct­ed are Thwake Dam in Makueni Coun­ty, Makami­ni Dam and Mwache mul­ti­pur­pose dam in Kwale Coun­ty plus Bakuli 4 dam in Marsabit County.

As we con­struct these dams, we must rad­i­cal­ly improve the man­age­ment of the water that is already flow­ing through our nat­ur­al and built infra­struc­ture. Such holis­tic water man­age­ment entails pro­tec­tion of our Forests that serve as water catch­ment areas, cleans­ing rivers that feed dams, sus­tain­able extrac­tion of ground­wa­ter and high­ly effi­cient dis­tri­b­u­tion of water into homes in every cor­ner of the country.

Indeed, our effi­cient water man­age­ment equals to improved qual­i­ty of life. We must not wait for the World Bank to issue an advi­so­ry on what is evi­dent. Let the rel­e­vant insti­tu­tions think and act green by swing­ing into action, not mere talk!

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About Dr. Kalua Green

He is the Chief Stew­ard of Green Africa Group, a con­glom­er­ate that was envi­sioned in 1991 to con­nect, pro­duce and impact var­i­ous aspi­ra­tions of human­i­ty through Sus­tain­able Mobil­i­ty & Safe­ty Solu­tions, Eco­pre­neur­ship & Agribusi­ness, Ship­ping & Logis­tics, Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Ini­tia­tives, as well as Hos­pi­tal­i­ty & fur­nish­ings sectors

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