• President Uhuru Kenyatta has said that more than half (56%) of the Kenyan population has access to clean water with 76% having access to clean sanitation.

    He said this while opening the African Water Association (AfWA) International Congress and Exhibition at Kenyatta International Convention Centre. President Kenyatta added that the government is working to ensure that the economic and social developments anticipated by Vision 2030 – Kenya’s development blueprint – sets a target of universal access to water and basic sanitation for all by 2030.

    “My Government, working with our devolved units of government which have the mandate for water and sanitation services provision, is wholly committed to meet the 2030 target,” President Kenyatta said.

    According to the president, Kenya is a water-scarce country with less than 1,000 cubic meters per capita of renewable freshwater resources, adding that more needs to be done to scale up clean water accessibility.

    Kenya is hosting the 18th Water Association International Congress bringing 1,500 delegates to the meeting themed “sustainable access to water and sanitation in Africa.”

    The meeting will exhibit technologies that can be exploited by developing countries to provide sustainable water as well as wastewater management solutions.

    The head of state underscored the need to invest in research aimed at setting practical solutions to the challenges Africa faces in the provision of water and sanitation.

    According to a statement from State House, President Kenyatta said: “matters such as sustainable water resources management, the governance of water utilities, the promotion of information technology, the reduction of non-revenue water, together with reliable water distribution; prudent infrastructure development and adoption of best practices in operation and maintenance, must be thought about.”

    Citing the United Nations in the ‘World Water Report 2014’, which projects that global water demand would rise some 55% by 2050, the president said that the availability of freshwater will be strained. According to him, “more than 40% of the world’s population will live in areas of severe water stress in 2050. What is most telling is that Africa will be among those worst affected.”

    He, however, noted that the all is not lost referring to the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme which details significant progress on access to drinking water and sanitation at the end of the Millennium Development Goals last year.

    “The report indicates that 91% of the global population uses improved drinking water sources, up from 76% in 1990. This means that 6.6 billion people in the world have access to improved sources of drinking water. Those without access stand at 663 million – the very first time the number has fallen below 700 million,” he said.

    Congress to identify, showcase and debate practical water-based experiences

    Formed in 1980, AfWA has made great progress by ensuring that member states work together to improve service delivery, President Kenyatta noted with praise.

    Water and Irrigation Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa reiterated that it was important for the Government to invest in water for agriculture, industry and domestic use.

    The overarching goal of AfWA’s International Water Congress series is to identify, showcase and debate practical experiences and examples of service provision in developing countries that ‘work’, and critically, ‘work at large scale’. The Congress is therefore explicitly solutions focused, rather than diagnosing the challenges and problems in the sector, which are already well documented.

    According to AfWA, the ongoing forums are set so as to empower and mandate utilities to be at the forefront of providing services to urban citizens, with a particular emphasis on the poor with prominence on fostering a broader understanding of urban water management that considers catchment wide interactions between stakeholders and the opportunities for green infrastructure and services.

    The needs are orientated to the growing demands of consumers that reflect local circumstances to engage with communities in a participatory manner. Programs and deliberations are essentially organized to address the water-related issues around these main topics: capacity development, service delivery, urban sanitation, urban water management.

    Speaking at the launching event, Mr Wamalwa said Kenya has increased its water budget from $5 million to $450 million in 10 years.

    “This is a good effort, but more needs to be done,” Mr Wamalwa said, disclosing that Kenya beat South Africa in bidding to host the 18th Africa Water Association International Congress.

    On his part, the Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero said water scarcity could cause disease and stagnate economic growth.

    “Many people in Africa do not have access to clean water. But Kenya is doing everything to ensure its people have clean water,” he said adding that the meeting is a good forum for consultation and partnership.

    Those expected to present at the international event include Pentair which will present wastewater solutions. Pentair will deliver a technical session highlighting its wastewater management solutions for municipal and industrial applications. The company will among other things outline the wastewater management challenges in Africa as well present Pentair’s solutions to help address the wastewater management challenges facing the municipal and industrial sector.

    Image Credit: Courtesy of Kyle Lanoue