Unstable Water Supply In Kenya.
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Unstable Water Supply In Kenya.

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Kenya’s population has grown a lot in the past two decades, This growth has been evident in cities like Nairobi where the pressure of water sources is increasing significantly. Adding to this, climate change is exacerbating both water scarcity and water-related hazards (such as floods and droughts), as rising temperatures disrupt precipitation patterns and the entire water cycle. Water and climate change are inextricably linked hence it becomes difficult for the country to meet domestic water needs in both urban and rural areas.

With a population of about 53 million, about 28 Million Kenyans lack access to safe water, and 41 million lack access to improved sanitation, the statement can be viewed as an irony, because this happens despite the nation’s wealth in natural resources.

Most of the urban poor Kenyans only have access to polluted water, which has caused cholera epidemics and multiple other diseases that affect health and livelihoods. Despite the critical shortage of clean water in Kenya’s urban slums, there also is a large rural-to-urban discrepancy in access to clean water in Kenya. According to the World Bank (2010), slightly less than half of the rural population has access to water, as opposed to the urban population where 85 percent have access to safe water. Due to continued population growth, it has been estimated that by the year 2025, Kenya’s per capita water availability will be 235 cubic meters per year, about two-thirds less than the current 650 cubic meters.

Significant efforts have been made to address the lack of water infrastructure to ensure that residents are connected to water pipes. Sewage systems targeting informal settlements have also been targeted. This was made possible through funding from the World Bank, African Development, and the French Development Bank among other funding organizations over the last decade. Although the issues have not been fully addressed, this is the right direction.

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However, this massive deployment of infrastructure would not make any sense if the country continues to degrade the only available water sources. For example, the main water tower in Kenya, Mau Forest, has lost about 40% of forest cover to human activity since 1990 and that trend seems to continue this is evident from the low flows in the major rivers supplied by its catchment.

In addition, our surface water supplies are also at risk of contamination, The Nairobi River is a good example where it has become an outlet for both industrial and domestic sewage. Although, efforts are being made to improve the condition, much more should be done to improve the condition of the river which would ideally have supported the water supply of Nairobi’s growing population.

In 2014, a National Water Master Plan 2030 was launched. It is a product of an intensive study of Kenya’s water resources and meteorological conditions to facilitate planning for the development and management of the same. The objectives of the Project were to assess and evaluate the availability, reliability, quality, and vulnerability of the country’s water resources up to around 2050.

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Urbanization plays a large role in the water crisis. While 90% of urban residents had clean water in 1990, this figure fell to 50% in Nairobi as the city’s population nearly quadrupled. The city began rationing water in 2017 where different areas of the city receive water on specific days of the week, some for a few days and others for just a few hours. The Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company estimates that supply still falls 25% short of demand. Informal settlements lack piped water and the World Health Organization (WHO) warns that water from vendors or surface sources often contains contaminants.

The Kenyan government struggles to address the water crisis in Kenya’s slums due to the informal nature of the urban settlements. Aid organizations and private nonprofits also fail to provide long-term relief, with more than 60% of water projects failing.

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A country is defined as water-stressed if the per capita water availability is below 1700 m3 per year. Kenya is among the water-scarce countries in the world with per capita availability below 1,000 m3 annually.

Water shortage in Kenya is largely pronounced in rural areas and largely in the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs) which has led to the strain on women and children having the task of searching for water, especially for domestic use. Water shortage has caused children to be more vulnerable by affecting their education life whereby in some regions, children miss out on attending school in search of water.

Children living in low-income areas and especially in informal settlements are vulnerable; hence resulting in morbidity and mortality in children due to diarrhea and consumption of unsafe water. Reports done by the Disease Control Priority Project show that 90% of the deaths can be avoided through improved sanitation, hygiene, and water supply.

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