Lobby group walks to demand end to water poverty

As the world gears to celebrate World Water Day on March 22, a lobby group has teamed up for a walk in the city of Nairobi to create awareness on the wanting water and sanitation situation in the country.

Kenya Water and Sanitation Civil Society Network (KEWASNET) and End Water Poverty have organised the international mobilisation on the same day 9am to 6pm at Uhuru Park, in Nairobi to demand universal and sustainable access to water and sanitation.

Among the demands the lobby group, among others around the world, will be making is change in water and sanitation policy, calling for the realisation of the human right to water and sanitation, and more extensive government funding and programmes to expand access to the 1.8 billion people who access faecally contaminated water and the 2.5 billion people who live without access to a toilet.

“We are calling on people at Uhuru Park to join us in this very important mobilisation to show politicians that we will not give up on our demand for a dignified life, with adequate access to water and sanitation – a basic human right,” said KEWASNET CEO Samson Shivaji.

Mr. Shivaji said: “This is a unique opportunity for the people of Nairobi to take part in the global mobilisation to defend the human right to water and sanitation, demand changes in their area, and have their voices heard both locally and internationally.’’

‘‘Tackling water and sanitation must be a central concern of government, and we citizens must remind our leaders that water and sanitation are cross-cutting issues at the heart of development.’’

‘‘Water and sanitation issues are inseparable from issues of health, gender, education and economic growth. Access to the basic human right of water and sanitation therefore has the most potential to impact and alleviate global poverty.’’

‘‘If we fund in the right way, we can overcome the water and sanitation crisis, and in doing meet our commitments to human rights and increase our national wealth, both economic and moral.’’

“Our approach to provision of Water and Sanitation must seek to address inequalities and promote Gender Equity. KEWASNET has an overarching concern regarding growing pressure on water resources, including pollution and scarcity, and the implications this has for the quality and quantity of water for peoples’ water, sanitation and hygiene needs.”

Globally, more than one in eight people do not have improved access to a safe water supply, while almost 40% of the world’s population remains without access to sanitation – the most off-track of all the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

In regard to health targets, it is estimated that 50% of the hospital beds in the global South are filled by people with illnesses caused by inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene, according to UNDP report of 2006.

Total economic losses due to inadequate water supply/sanitation services are $260 billion (Sh23,939.24 billion) per year, while there is a $4 (Sh386) return on every $1 (Sh92) invested in sanitation.