US gives Kenya $100m for water, sanitation and hygiene

There is hope for Kenyans as they are set to benefit from enhanced clean water and sanitation facilities over the next five years.

This is after, the United States, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), launched the U.S. Government Global Water Strategy High Priority Country Plan for Kenya announcing more than $100 million in new Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) activities.

Following the launch, USAID's investments will increase access to basic or improved water services for 1.6 million people and provide basic or improved sanitation to 1 million people, mobilizing roughly $130 million for the sector.

The American agency promises to work with other organizations, governments, and communities to address the global water crisis as an additional $600 million is needed annually to reach universal coverage by 2030.

Ambassador Meg Whitman described the launch as a journey to build a water-secure world:

"I've seen firsthand the impact that water security and access to sanitation have on people's lives. Secure access to water gives girls the opportunity to go to school and women the chance to go to work. Water makes it possible to grow food to feed the world, run businesses, and keep us healthy. Water promotes democracy, cooperation, and peace, all of which are critical for the acceleration of economic growth that Kenya needs to propel itself to the next level of development. The issue of water security will remain a challenge in Kenya and around the world for the foreseeable future. But by working together, we will find the solutions."

She explained the challenges of providing sustainable and affordable water and sanitation services are particularly significant for communities in Kenya's Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL) areas and the growing number of informal settlements.

The high variability in rainfall across the country over the past three years has led to frequent and prolonged droughts and floods in some areas, exacerbating the challenges of water scarcity. Climate change is predicted to worsen this situation.

Meg says, "The objective of the U.S. Government Global Water Strategy (GWS) for the period of 2022-2027 is to enhance health, prosperity, stability, and resilience by means of sustainable and equitable water resources management, as well as ensuring access to safe drinking water, sanitation services, and hygiene practices."

Susan Nakhumicha, Cabinet Secretary for Health reiterates, safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) are crucial to human health and well-being.

"Safe WASH is not only a prerequisite to health, but contributes to livelihoods, school attendance, dignity, and helps to create resilient communities living in healthy environments," she says.

The CS explains global access to safe water, adequate sanitation, and proper hygiene education can reduce illnesses and deaths from diseases, leading to improved health, poverty reduction, and socio-economic development.

She reveals that only 28 per cent of rural and 32 per cent of urban Kenyans have access to Improved Sanitation and also about 6 million Kenyans have no access to any form of sanitation facilities and practice total open defecation.

The CS warns, "Malnutrition and stunted growth is on the rise in many counties, and is mainly attributed to poor sanitation and hygiene as one of the underlying risk factors. Every year, many counties are reporting cholera outbreaks."

She says 90 per cent of open defecation is taking place in 15 counties, categorized as high-burden counties which include Turkana, Samburu, Marsabit, Mandera, Wajir, Garissa, Tana River, Kilifi, Kwale, Narok, Baringo, Isiolo, Homabay, Kajiado and West Pokot.

To eliminate the risk emanating from open defecation from the 15 high-burden counties, the CS reveals national and county governments, UNICEF, USAID and other stakeholders have launched the Kenya Sanitation Alliance (KSA-2021), as a vehicle to propel issues of hygiene and sanitation in most impoverished Counties.

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