According to the United Nations, Kenya’s people are one of the most struggling populations in the world. The country’s poverty index has also continued to steadily rise.
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 any fresh 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.
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. A recent natural disaster also caused major soil degradation and refugee displacement throughout the country.
Kenya’s government does not have the funds to run pumping stations and existing piping systems are often pirated and in disrepair.
Kenya’s water shortage also means that a large population of women and children spend up to one third of their day fetching water in the hot sun from the nearest fresh water source. This backbreaking work leaves roughly half of the country’s inhabitants vulnerable to serious dangers. In addition to exposure to the elements and risk of attack by predators, the primary water gatherers are also the most susceptible to waterborne diseases.
Water pathogens are a huge health problem in Kenya, as the people have been left unprotected against sporadic epidemics such as cholera and parasitic worms. The rate of exposure is extremely high because the water is not only contaminated at the basins and pumps where water is collected but the containers are almost always found, secondhand objects, often previously used for oil, fertilizer or wastes.
Tourists from all over the world come to Kenya for the chance to see lions, elephants and rhinos in the wild. From its snowy mountains, grassy savanna and tropical coast, it exports tea, coffee and flowers around the world but despite these signs of development, more than three out of ten people do not have clean water and seven in ten people do not have a decent toilet and from the resulting diseases because of these problems More than 5,000 children die every year.
As well as being scarce, water in Kenya is not distributed fairly. Service providers give priority to wealthier communities that can pay for services meaning those in slums and remote villages often go without. Up to a third of water pumps are broken at any one time.
Several towns across Kenya, including the capital Nairobi, are facing an acute water shortage following a prolonged dry spell in the East African nation.
While Kenya has been facing water supply challenges, especially in Nairobi, where residents for years have had water rationed, the dry spell has worsened the situation as the crisis spread to towns that never had the problem.
Some of the residents in the towns have not received water through their taps for months, and resort to buying from vendors at exorbitant prices.
The East African nation has experienced the erratic rains for the past years due to the effects of climate change that have not only affected water supply but also food production.
75 percent of Nairobi residents do not get regular supply of piped water.
Kakamega town, one of the regions where residents never had water shortage, is currently gripped in a major water crisis, with residents going for weeks without the crucial commodity.
The level of water in Isiukhu, a major river where water is tapped and treated before it is supplied to the over 30,000 residents, has hit an all-time low.
The crisis is compounded by the fact that several rivers where a majority of residents used to turn to for their water supply have dried.
Water is scarce in Nakuru and the surrounding areas. You have to buy at a high price from vendors who are doing a booming business yet you are not even assured of the quality and the source.
Analysts have blamed the water crisis on climate change that has seen rains disappear, destruction of forests, poor management of the resource and a bulging population.
Kenya has brought this problem on itself because little has been done to protect forests and other water catchment areas. Destruction of forests is going on unabated even as the country faces a major crisis. You cannot destroy forests and expect rains.
Regions like Murang’a and Kericho, have many rivers and forests never used to suffer water shortages, but the fact that they have been hit shows how dire the situation is.
Kenya is a water scarce country; therefore the government must integrate water and forestry policies.