“Water, water everywhere, not any drop to drink.” In these lines, Samuel Taylor Coleridge made reference to the fact that while seawater is in plenty, human beings can survive only with fresh water. This surprisingly scarce and vital resource is key to sustaining human lives and healthy ecosystems: the most vital resource for life on Earth as we know it.

Yet despite its importance to humanity, the global water crisis has failed to take priority in the public consciousness and political arena.

Whether it’s a crisis of dearth or abundance, there’s a water problem everywhere on Earth, and Kenya can bare witness to this phenomena. With the recents droughts and then sudden floods, Kenya has first hand experienced mother nature’s fury.

According to water.org, 19 Million people in Kenya lack access to safe water and 27 Million people lack access to improved sanitation.  That is a hard depressing fact! With our total population ranging around 46 million, this shows that almost half of our population is in danger of health risks from water borne diseases and have their lives disrupted to find better water solutions on their own.

According to UN Water - 2.1 billion people globally live without safe drinking water at home; while another 1.1 billion people worldwide lack access to water. This affects their health, education and livelihoods.

On 22nd March every year, the world celebrates World Water Day. World Water day was first started in 1993 by the United Nations General Assembly.  It is an annual event that focuses on the importance of water and a platform to take action on the global water crisis. It is aimed at increasing the awareness, especially to the public about the importance and need to conserve  water. 25 years down the line, we still have little to celebrate about this day.

This year’s theme is ‘Nature for Water’. It saddens me to see my fellow Kenyans crying foul  when the county governments or state decides to ban charcoal banning and illegal logging. It speaks volumes about our understanding of how  preservation of forests and wetlands contribute to our water sources. Our natural ecosystems need to be maintained and to be allowed to prosper.

Why is there water scarcity in Kenya?

I hope you have a hint. There are numerous factors contributing to this. Firstly, the degradation of our natural ecosystem that acts as water catchment areas - for example deforestation in the Aberdare and Mau forests. A large growing population means putting pressure on existing  water resources. Inappropriate water usage practices, lack of proper water harvesting and storage facilities, the list is endless.


What  can you do?

First, change and adopt simple practices such as closing the taps well to prevent wasting water through leaks. Find ways to recycle water at home, school and industries - blackwater, greywater or rainwater is collected, treated and reused in  various uses such as toilet flushing, surface irrigation and cooling towers.

There is also need to change mindsets in citizens. Most people complain with no talk of solutions. Solutions that Entrepreneurs and investors should invest in; creating profitable ventures. Educating yourself and the public on the importance of preserving the water catchment areas. Participate in community programs or events concerning water and nature conservation.

Finally harvesting water during the rainy season; high water volumes causing floods can be harvested and stored to be used during dry spells.  Sounds simple! But as a country, if we don’t invest our time and resources in it, then we all complain when the predicted disaster strikes.

Akinyi Chemutai