Leadership, News

The Key To Kenya’s Water Stress is in The Hands of Every Household

Pic­ture two women each car­ry­ing twen­ty-liter con­tain­ers of water on their heads. One in Nairo­bi and anoth­er one in Kitui Coun­ty. For both, access­ing water is a strug­gle. The one in Kitui has to walk for almost five kilo­me­ters to access water from a sea­son­al riv­er while the one in Nairo­bi has to queue for as long as an hour to access water. Sep­a­rate­ly, res­i­dents of Wasi­ni Island in the South Coast, have to cross the ocean in small boats to fetch clean water. It is dev­as­tat­ing, isn’t it?

Accord­ing to the World Health Orga­ni­za­tion (WHO), a water source has to be with­in 1,000 meters of the home and col­lec­tion time should not exceed 30 min­utes. This is not the case for mil­lions of Kenyans who either have to trav­el long dis­tances in search of water or wait for long peri­ods of time to access it from water ven­dors. WHO fur­ther says that the aver­age per­son needs between 50 to 100 litres of water per day. This is def­i­nite­ly not the case for many Kenyans and no won­der we are most­ly moody, and our immune sys­tem is affected.

A lot has been said about the Government’s respon­si­bil­i­ty in reduc­ing this water stress. Indeed, the Coun­ty and Nation­al Gov­ern­ments can­not abdi­cate their respon­si­bil­i­ty to ensure that all Kenyans real­ize the right to water. 

Water dams can solve the water scarci­ty prob­lem at a macro lev­el and ben­e­fit mil­lions of house­holds. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the coun­try is replete with stalled or drag­ging water dams. They include Itare Dam in Kure­soi North, which will ben­e­fit 2 mil­lion Naku­ru res­i­dents once com­plete; Umaa Dam in Kitui; Thwake Dam at the bor­der of Makueni and Kitui; Kari­menu Dam in Gatun­du; Thi­ba Dam in Kirinya­ga; Siy­oi-Muruny dam in West Pokot; Bosto dam in Bomet; Mwache dam in Kwale; Koru-Soin dam at the bor­der of Kisumu and Kericho.

Appre­cia­tive­ly, the gov­ern­ment has com­plet­ed oth­er water projects. Last month, the Water, San­i­ta­tion, and Irri­ga­tion CS Sici­ly Kar­iu­ki revealed that approx­i­mate­ly 70 per­cent of Kenyans now have access to clean drink­ing water. We must pro­ceed with urgency to pro­tect these gains and ensure that the remain­ing 30 per­cent will also be able to access clean water. 

I sug­gest that we inspire both rur­al and urban house­holds to go the extra mile in com­ple­ment­ing the government’s ongo­ing efforts to pro­vide clean water for all. We must urgent­ly inte­grate rain­wa­ter har­vest­ing into all new con­struc­tions both in urban and rur­al areas. Indeed, Vision 2030 calls for the use of rain­wa­ter har­vest­ing as a means of enhanc­ing clean water for all. 

Apart from rooftop rain­wa­ter har­vest­ing, we can also cap­ture rain­wa­ter from lit­tle streams and rivers through sand dams. These are strength­ened con­crete walls that are built across water bod­ies to secure sand so that it can store more under­ground. This way, the rivers’ sand is able to store much more rain­wa­ter dur­ing heavy rains. Thou­sands of house­holds in parts of low­er east­ern Kenya are already access­ing clean water through sand dams and I am a ben­e­fi­cia­ry too. Accord­ing to the Unit­ed Nations Frame­work Con­ven­tion on Cli­mate Change, such sand dams pro­vide a sus­tain­able solu­tion for water-scarce regions. In so doing, they enable low-income, dis­ad­van­taged house­holds to access clean water.

Addi­tion­al­ly, house­holds can also use farm ponds to cap­ture rain­wa­ter for farm­ing. These broad pits are con­struct­ed at the low­est points of farm­land. They fea­ture inlets and out­lets. They col­lect sur­face runoff that flows freely dur­ing heavy rains. That water can then be used to water crops when rains dis­ap­pear. Along a sim­i­lar vein, house­holds can also build more bunds. These are cres­cent-shaped pits that open up the hard top lay­er of soil so that more rain­wa­ter can be retained. This approach was suc­cess­ful­ly tried at a group ranch in Kajiado.

Indeed, Kenya’s 12.2 mil­lion house­holds have numer­ous fea­si­ble options for access­ing clean water for their domes­tic use and farm­lands. The options must be made bank­able so that the pop­u­lace can even access micro­fi­nance insti­tu­tions for exe­cu­tion sup­port. Think green, act green.

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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