Kenya loses Sh7.8 billion to open defecation annually

Former President Kibaki is welcomed at MWA-K launch by Director East African water organisation Regional Director Patrick Alubbe (right), MWA-K chairman Malcolm Morris (left) and Executive Director Rafael Callejas in Nairobi yesterday. [PHOTO: MOSES OMUSULA/STANDARD]

NAIROBI, KENYA: Retired President Mwai Kibaki has called for efficient and effective water governance to spur economic and social growth.

He emphasised the need to develop local affordable technologies that can support drilling, dam-building and water distribution efforts, increase access to safe drinking water and improve sanitation.

"As long as the cost of water at the point of use in Africa remains three to five times higher than in Asia or Europe, our quest for universal water coverage will remain elusive," said Mr Kibaki.

A recent research by Captiva Africa indicates that 69 per cent of Kenyans do not have access to improved sanitation and safe water.


The former President, who is the patron of the Millennium Water Alliance Kenya Trust (MWA-K) said the country should develop a culture of water recycling.

"We need to acknowledge the fact that the same water we disagree on from time to time is the same that holds the key to great opportunities capable of transforming the fortunes of whole societies and nations. Without water our dream to achieve the status of an industrialised economy and to expand our middle class by 2030 will not be realistic," the former head of state said.

He added: "There is need to seek ways of overcoming challenges such as unavailability and poor quality to inaccessibility due to weak administrative systems. This will help us achieve our vision and goal of transforming the governance of the water sector."

Speaking in Nairobi during the launch of MWA-K 2014-2019 strategic plan, Kibaki said lack of clean drinking water is a precursor to water-borne diseases and a threat to health and productivity while lack of water is a potential source of conflict among neighbouring communities.

According to the Ministry of Health, Kenya loses 30,000 people annually through diarrhoea occasioned by poor sanitation, some 16 per cent of these deaths being among children below five. Every year, Kenya loses Sh27 billion due to poor sanitation.

Health Principal Secretary Khadijah Kassachoon said open defecation costs the country $88 million (about Sh7.8 billion) annually yet eliminating the practise would require less than 1.2 million latrines to be built