The adage water is life has been used so long it never evokes any emotions. It has been recited endlessly by young ones entertaining dignitaries at functions and hammered days on end in schools. It passes as another construction of a sentence. Yet the symbolism and meaning behind it holds so much weight for the over 40 million Kenyans now more than ever.
For a country that relies heavily on agriculture, not just for feeding its people but for growing the economy and providing her people with jobs, water is not something, it is everything. Yet its dwindling supplies have been christened the biggest catastrophe of the 21st century, with the reality of dried wells and barren lands all too bare.
Experts have warned that water wars, now being witnessed, will be bigger than anything we have ever seen. A report documented by Waterlight Africa, a think tank on habitation and natural resources, opines that water refugees will overtake traditional war refugees in Sub Saharan Africa in the next 20 years. In Kenya there are already tell-tale signs.
The newly devolved county governments are feeling the heat as different counties scramble for major water catchment areas. Traditionally resources were shared among the citizens. But county governments, keen on securing key resources with the aim of enticing investors are demarcating boundaries which are fanning inter- county squabbles. This is especially on water towers as most of the people in the counties are farmers. Demand for water by livestock and for irrigation means even the water towers are struggling to meet the growing demand.