Retired President Mwai Kibaki has urged policy makers to rethink the way the country uses water, energy and other scarce resources.
In a speech read on his behalf during the Africa Green Building pre-summit in Nairobi, Kibaki, who is also the Unesco special envoy for water in Africa, said building plans as well as construction should anticipate and provide for proper water storage, purification and re-use on site.
According to Kibaki, one of the country’s biggest challenges is conserving water at the household level. In Africa, he added, rainwater, which is the greatest natural resource whose potential is underestimated, has not been harnessed efficiently or properly conserved.
“It is important to make contingency plans to deal with water wastage by designing systems capable of recycling the water used for ablution and for washing cars. Housing laws and regulations should make it mandatory that all houses are fitted with ultra-low flush options and low showerheads. This way a lot of water that goes into waste will be saved and diverted to other equally important uses,” he said.
Kibaki said efforts to conserve the precious commodity are being hampered by the planting of eucalyptus trees that have turned out to be water guzzlers.
In recent years, Kenya and other countries on the continent have dedicated acres upon acres to the eucalyptus in massive re-forestation efforts. “Scientists tell us that the average water consumption for a single eucalyptus tree is 40 litres per day, or 1,200 litres per month. Planting 10 million eucalyptus trees in the country, one would be planning to deprive the people of 12 billion litres of water per month or 144 billion litres per year,” said Kibaki.
Currently, the country is facing one of the most severe droughts in years with a number of rivers on the verge of drying up. Animals, both wild and domestic, are reported to have died as a result of water scarcity.
The government has started the distribution of relief food in hard-hit areas, especially the northern part of the country.
According to the weatherman, the rains are expected in April.