On 22, March, 2019, Kenya joined the rest of the world to mark the World Water Day with a pledge to establish more investments in infrastructure geared towards providing universal access to the resource.
Water and Sanitation Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui said that policy reforms coupled with innovative financing have been prioritized in order to bridge water supply gaps that have threatened food security. “The government has in the last 15 years implemented reforms to address gaps that have hindered effective delivery of water and sanitation services in the country,” said Chelugui.
“We have come up with a roadmap to achieve universal coverage by 2030 through implementation of projects that will connect 200,000 people to clean water annually,” he added.
Kenya joined the international community to celebrate the world water day whose theme was “Leaving no one behind” realigns with the country’s socio-economic transformation blue print which also means all people must benefit and are incorporated in the water provision efforts including women and children who are vulnerable during drought seasons.
Chelugui said the government is committed to fast-track the construction of mega dams to address water shortages that have bedeviled the country because of the climate change and population increase. “Kenya remains a water stressed country with an annual per capita availability of less than 500 cubic meters. We have earmarked 57 major dams for implementation in the coming decade to boost water security,” said CS Chelugui.
Furthermore, he stated the government has enacted legislation to provide sound management of water resources amid competing demands from households and industries. “Effective regulations are critical to ensure there is equitable sharing of water resources and avoid conflicts,” said Chelugui adding that protection of Kenya’s five major water towers has been prioritized to address access gaps in cities and rural towns.
The principal secretary in the ministry of water and sanitation Joseph Irungu said that expanding national water coverage from the current 60 to 80 percent by 2022 is fundamental to boost economic growth and health in the country.
According to the United Nations statistics, 80% of people who live in marginalized areas use unsafe and untreated water. In addition, 2.1 billion people lack clean water to use in households. Sustainable Development Goal Number 6 Agenda aims to ensure availability and access to clean, safe drinking water for all by 2030.
Internationally, this year’s world water day was celebrated at Sheik Zayed Centre, FAO headquarters, Rome where improvements in water resource management, access to water supply and sanitation services were highlighted as essential factors in alleviating poverty and other social and economic inequalities.
Kenya commemorated the national celebrations for the World Water Day in Kakamega County. Currently, there are twelve counties that have been affected by drought in the country.
However, according to the Deputy President William Ruto, the government has set aside Ksh 2b for food and water in the drought hit counties. The money will be channeled through the Ministries of Agriculture and Devolution.
The government records indicate 865,000 people in Arid and Semi-Arid Land (ASAL)counties of marsabit, Kilifi, Tana River, West Pokot, Garissa, Isiolo, Mandera, Baringo, Wajir, Makueni, Kajiado and Kwale are facing food and water insecurity. “There should be no cause for alarm at the moment. The government has put in place intervention to manage the current drought and we will work together with other humanitarian agencies to ensure there are no casualties,” the DP assured.
“County Governments have ongoing mechanism of intervention and therefore National Government Ministries will proceed to support ongoing efforts without delay,” Dr Ruto said after chairing a meeting attended by Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich, Eugene Wamalwa (Devolution), Mwangi Kiunjuri (Agriculture), and Simon Chelugui (Water and Sanitation) at Harambee House Annex.
The Meteorological Department says the drought situation in ASAL counties is as a result of tropical cyclone that has reduced the accumulation of precipitation; much-needed moisture in the county.
The Director of Meteorological Department, Stella Aura, said rainfall will be experienced in Western, Rift Valley, and Central parts of the country in the begining of April.
“The March-April-May seasonal rainfall onset was expected to be timely over several parts of the country. However, a tropical cyclone located in the Mozambican channel for several days has played a key role in delaying the northward movement of the rain-bearing intra-tropical convergence zone,” she said.
The cyclone significantly reduced moisture influx into the country leading to continued sunny and dry conditions in most parts of the country.
She warned flash-floods could be experienced in some parts of western region especially Budalang’i and probability of landslides in Murang’a county.
The Meteorological Department’s Deputy Director Bernard Chanzu advised there was need to put in place water-harvesting mechanisms to tap rain water for irrigation.
“We have a situation where you can have high rainfall in a few days then it disappears. Rain-fed agriculture therefore becomes challenging in some parts of the country which may experience this phenomenon,” he said.
Women and children have been travelling for long distances in search of clean water to drink. But the government of Kenya in partnership with organizations like UNICEF and World Vision have put in place effective measures to provide and train the communities on how to treat water easily.
Lack of clean water may put some people in risks of contracting waterborne diseases like Typoid, Chorela, Dysentery and Guinea worm disease. All institutions need clean water to operate and especially hospitals and schools. Children need clean water in school for drinking and keeping their bodies hydrated from the scorching sun as well as cooking.