Kenya is slowly realising the implementation of the Constitution and particularly devolution, but the biggest challenge that must be addressed urgently is the provision of sufficient and clean water to all, writes DAVID OHITO.
Even as the country focuses on devolution, one critical aspect is how Kenyaâs 47 counties will be supplied with water following its recognition as a basic human right in the Constitution.
Article 43 (1) D of the Constitution entitles Kenyans to clean and safe water in adequate quantities.
The article espouses the human right to water and entitles everyone to sufficient, affordable, physically accessible, safe and acceptable water for personal and domestic use, but just how many Kenyans have and enjoy the right?
In Kenya, water supply services are poor for majority of citizens. In 2007, the Ministry of Water and Irrigation estimated that about 57 per cent of households use water from safe sources while sustainable access to safe water was estimated at 60 per cent. However, coverage among the urban poor was as low as 20 per cent. That meant about two million residents of Nairobi only enjoyed 20 per cent water coverage.
In rural Kenya, only about 40 per cent can access safe water, but how long women, men and children travel to reach water points varies from county to county.
The core problem of water supply in urban areas is compounded by rapid increase in the populations, often resulting in informal settlements, popularly called slums.
Every year, billions of shillings are allocated to provide water to various parts of the country, but numbers of un-served, the inadequately-served and the marginalised, who long for the day they will enjoy this right, remains high.
Many experts including Rose N Osinde and Prof Albert Mumma who chairs the Task Force on Water Reforms at the Water ministry are battling with how to help masses understand the aspects of social justice and human rightsâ approach to water.
The fact that water is a basic right in the Constitution does not mean more people will gain access.
Cases of corruption in water bodies and tales of water supply switched off because of electricity bills that have not been paid are many. Among the urban poor, cases of bribing to get legal connections are countless. And many boardroom wars over the control of water and sewerage companies only worsen the situation.