State failure to harvest water is a national shame

Boda boda riders washing their bikes using flooding water long Kilindini road at Bombolulu in Mombasa County on May 3, 2022. [Kelvin karani, Standard]

As usual, the ongoing heavy rains have exposed the country's unpreparedness in dealing with its impact, especially on transport infrastructure. After almost a year of a biting drought, which affected 4.4 million people in most parts of the arid pastoral northwest and northeast counties as well as the southeast marginal agricultural counties of Kitui and Makueni, many parts of the country are currently experiencing heavy downpours.

The downside is that motorists and pedestrians across the country are suffering because of flooded roads as heavy rains continue to pound various parts of the country.

In Nairobi, some of the roads that have suffered flooding include parts of Lusaka Road, Mombasa Road, Bunyala Road roundabout, Nyayo Stadium roundabout, Capital Centre and Imara Daima road section outside Imara mall especially at night and in the early morning hours.

Outside the capital, Narok-Maai Mahiu Road is among the most affected forcing motorists to spend long hours in traffic after rainwater washed away part of the road at Suswa on Thursday.

While Transport Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Murkomen has instructed the Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) to undertake immediate drainage procedures to address the crisis especially in Nairobi, the flooding, in our view goes beyond resuscitating the drainage systems.

The crisis exposes our failure to address the country's water crisis. It is an indictment that Kenyans are grappling with the effects of heavy rains barely days after the country joined the rest of the world in marking World Water Day on Wednesday.

This day is marked by encouraging individuals and corporations to take action to fight against the global water crisis, especially through conservation of fresh water. And yet, Kenyans let rainwater, a major source of fresh water to literally go down the drain without any care in the world.

Countries such as Israel have gone to great lengths to fulfill their water needs for both domestic use and irrigation by harnessing their abilities to harvesting water from every possible use, including the air.

There is no excuse why Kenya cannot do the same. As noted by the Kenya Climate Innovation Centre, there are entities in the country that are already doing the same, among them, Majik Water Company, which has developed a prototype that harvests 10 litres of water in 24 hours in relative humidity areas of 55 per cent in arid and semi arid areas.

The enterprise has also innovated a shower drip mobile irrigation system.

Clearly, with government investment, the about 28 million Kenyans who lack access to safe water will not continue suffering. Irrigation will also help address the problem of food insecurity bedevilling the nation.