Everyone needs to be involved in tackling the water crisis

Agnes Makori a resident at Kaptembwa, Nakuru, fetches water from a water tank where rainfall water is stored.  [David Gichuru, Standard]

Agnes Makori, a landlady in Kaptembwa in Nakuru County has had to limit her water supply to her tenants following water rationing in Nakuru town due to the recent drought that has hit different parts of the country.

For a while now, the Nakuru Water Company has been supplying water to the residents for two days a week while the rest is channelled to the water kiosks.

According to Agnes, the water kiosks can reach more people in a day, those with piped water and those without.

“Many women have not been going to work nowadays to go and queue at the water kiosks to buy water because sometimes the queues are quite long,” she said, explaining that many are unable to carry out their daily activities that require water such as washing clothes while others forgo bathing.

Some residents living in the area used to supplement their water supply by fetching water in a nearby river which also has been posing a health risk since the water is being used by women washing clothes, and watering the livestock while some have been using it for drinking and cooking.

“This means we have more cases of diarrhoea and cholera because this river has been a multi-purpose one for us, it is just now that we have a bad case of climate change that it has dried up so people have to fully rely on the water kiosks.”

This year’s World Water Day is about accelerating change to solve the water and sanitation crisis, where everyone is needed to take action.

Just like Agnes, many Nakuru residents have constructed underground water storage tanks where they store the rainwater which can be used to supplement the water supply when rationing begins.

Although the underground water tanks may not store clean drinking water, she said it can be used for cleaning the toilets, washing clothes or bathing.

“As a county, we have been harvesting rainwater by building several pans and dams, as well as distributing water tanks to households so that they can also harvest rainwater so that it doesn’t run off to the oceans and just go to waste,” said Margaret Kinyanjui, the Nakuru County Chief Officer, Water and Sanitation.

“We had tried large-scale rainwater harvesting but we encountered land challenges, but we are sensitising our residents to have underground tanks to reduce the strain on the available resources.”

According to her, the county government has put in place policies to work with residents in supplementing the available water, by ensuring each landowner shows how they will supplement the water supply before constructing their houses.

Similar sentiments were made by Dr Nelson Mara, the CEC Water in Nakuru County, explaining they have developed a water act that ensures water is distributed to the entire county by ensuring that there are sufficient funds for the development of the water projects.

“The biggest water issue is mismanagement but we have put mechanisms in place to ensure these projects are run by water service providers who will run the projects on behalf of the community,” he said.

“We have several projects that have been stalled or not working either because of breakage or unpaid bills and we will rehabilitate the boreholes before handing them over to the water service providers to supply to residents because we have realised by rehabilitating what we already have we can supply to more than 2000 households lacking water at the moment,” he said.

He also said they are working with partners such as UNICEF to ensure there is enough water supply for the schools' WASH projects by supplying water tanks to schools.

A different scenario is experienced in Naivasha town where the water company NAIVAWASCO has been sufficiently supplying water to its residents without rationing.

According to NAIVAWASCO Managing Director Nahashon Wahome said the supply of water is from the boreholes which are rarely affected by the recent drought.

The country’s water coverage is at 62 per cent, UNICEF and its partners are running a last-mile project in Nakuru, Homabay and Nairobi by giving strategies to the counties on how they can improve their water coverage efficiencies by ensuring that the residents have access to water by putting up systems including infrastructure so that people can pay for this water to ensure sustainability.

According to Abdi Hassan a WASH specialist, lack of water affects children in different ways like having water-borne diseases such as diarrhoea and cholera that harm children’s growth therefore ensuring that there is sustainable clean water in every household will promote children’s health and growth.

“We hope to expand the program to ASAL counties to harness groundwater through boreholes and surface water that can be used during prolonged drought.”  

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