Water crisis cannot be solved through projects creating more problems to people

The term water usually sends cold shivers down the spines of millions of Kenyans whenever it is mentioned, due to the scarcity nature of this natural resource.

Although water scarcity is considered a global challenge, some people especially those living in developing countries where Kenya falls experience total lack of this vital commodity. This is a condition that has forced people to lead miserable lives; always experiencing health problems.

Approximately 17 million Kenyans lack access to safe drinking water, with the majority of them coming from North, North Eastern, some parts of Rift Valley, Eastern as well as coastal regions.  Surprisingly, it has emerged that urban residents also lack access to safe drinking water, Nairobi residents being among the most affected.

People living in informal settlements in Nairobi experience a total water scarcity. This means that they do not have reliable safe water sources. The settlements include Mukuru Kayaba, Kibera, Mathare among others. Proper sanitation in these slums is also a nightmare, adding to the woes of millions of people living in the settlements. People have to brave the harsh conditions that include drinking water from unhygienic sources, eating contaminated foods and sharing rooms with animals like dogs and goats, something that exposes them to serious health hazards.

A child collecting water from a stream full of garbage. Photo credit: Google

A child collecting water from an ill-conditioned tunnel. Photo credit: Google

The people have no one to look up to apart from the governmental, non-governmental organizations and well-wishers. Theirs is a story of broken dreams and lost hopes. They only hope that, one day they will lead a normal life. Their children will go to school just like the other children without spending time in hospitals seeking medications from water related infections and poor sanitation.

These are just a representation of millions of Kenyans who hope that, a long lasting solution we will come together to solve the water scarcity nightmare once and for all. It hurts them when people expected to help them start engaging in unnecessary arguments and politicizing every effort aimed at raising their living standards.

Northern collector tunnel project in Murang’a County is one initiative meant to supply Nairobi residents with water. The tunnel has already opened battle grounds for leaders and politicians. It is very sad that as a nation, we seem to politicize everything, even when our arguments have no grounds.

It is true that Nairobi region is not well served with water and therefore, all efforts to supply the region with water are welcome. The efforts and projects being fronted should meanwhile not be creating more problems to other people. We cannot solve a problem by creating more problems.

The issues being raised by critics of the project are matters of concern and should not be ignored. Experts and professionals from the authorized bodies should come out and advice accordingly. This is the time for politics to take a back seat as professionalism takes control.

As I wind up, my only hope is that Kenyans will be supplied with safe water as this is their right. I also hope that the mechanisms aimed at supplying Kenyans with water will honor the set guidelines and follow the stipulated laws.

 

 

5 Stunning Facts About Clean Water You Must Know

Water is incredibly, astonishingly precious. Water allows us to stay hydrated and quench our thirst. Water allows us to clean our bodies and maintain proper hygiene. Water cleans our toilets and our cars and our windows. Water allows us to relax in swimming pools and clear lakes. Water is an absolutely integral part of our lives.

And yet so often we take clean water for granted. We use lavish, extravagant amounts of water when we bathe our children. We don’t think twice about flushing our toilets once, twice, even three times. We fill a glass with water, take a sip, and then dump the rest out. We buy clean ice in 20 and 30 pound bags. We fill swimming pools with hundreds of thousands of gallons of water. For many of us, water is an abundant resource that we never think twice about.

There’s nothing wrong with enjoying the goodness of clean water. But as Marcus Samuelsson said:

Clean water and access to food are some of the simplest things that we can take for granted each and every day. In places like Africa, these can be some of the hardest resources to attain if you live in a rural area.

For many people, clean water is not an abundant commodity to be wasted, but a treasure to be chased and hoarded. Many people, especially those in developing countries, go their entire lives without experiencing the joy of clean, abundant water.

At Business Connect, we are passionate about providing citizens of developing countries with affordable access to clean water. In order to do that, we need to first help people understand just how large a problem access to clean water really is.

As the World Health Organization says:

In 2010, the UN General Assembly explicitly recognized the human right to water and sanitation. Everyone has the right to sufficient, continuous, safe, acceptable, physically accessible and affordable water for personal and domestic use.

So, with that in mind, here are 5 facts about clean water throughout the world. We encourage you to ponder these facts and consider how you might be part of the solution.

Water Fact #1 – Approximately 1.1 Billion People (1 in 10) Lack Access To Safe Water

An astonishing 10% of the world’s population lacks access to clean, safe water. The World Health Organization and UNICEF define safe drinking water in the following way:

  • Drinking water is water used for basic household purposes, such as drinking, cooking and personal hygiene;
  • Access to drinking water means that the water source is close (less than 1 KM away) and a person can reliably secure at least 20 liters of water per day for each household member.
  • Safe drinking water is water that is in alignment with WHO guidelines or national standards on drinking water quality, including microbial, chemical and physical characteristics.
  • Access to safe drinking water is the proportion of people in a given population using improved drinking water sources such as a household connection, standpipe, borehole, protected dug well, protected spring, or rainwater.

Water Fact #2: The damage and suffering caused by unsafe water is massive

Approximately 2.6 billion people (half the developing world) lack access to an improved latrine, and 1.1 billion people lack access to an improved water source.

The damage caused by unclean water is absolutely catastrophic. Every year:

  • 1 million people, mostly under the age of 5, die from diarrhoeal diseases directly attributable to unclean, unsafe water. Almost all these deaths occur in developing countries.
  • 160 million people are infected with schistosomiasis. 500 million are at risk for trachoma, which in turn puts 146 million people at risk for blindness.
  • 133 million people suffer from intestinal helminths (ascariasis, trichuriasis and hookworm infection) caused by unsafe drinking water.
  • 300 to 500 million people are afflicted with malaria, which is caused by mosquitos. Mosquitoes typically breed in standing, stagnant water. Approximately 1 million children die every year from malaria.
  • 12 million people are infected with typhoid, which causes headaches, nausea, and loss of appetite. Typhoid is typically caused by ingesting water filled with bacteria.

Clearly, unsafe, unclean drinking water is causing massive damage on a global scale, affecting hundreds of millions of people and causing untold suffering.

Clean water is the only way to prevent the water borne diseases that afflict so many people in the developing world. Without clean water, adults and children are forced to drink and bathe in water that is riddled with bacteria and parasites.

Additionally, clean water is crucial to preventing infections and sickness in those with AIDS/HIV. Those infected have depressed immune systems, which in turn leads to more health problems.

Water Fact #3 – The primary populations without access to clean water are found in

                                                      Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia

Countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia are the most affected by the unclean drinking water. According to the World Health Organization, the top 5 areas for unsafe water are:

Sub Saharan Africa – 319 million people

– Southern Asia – 134 million people

– Eastern Asia – 65 million people

– South Eastern Asia – 61 million people

– All other regions – 84 million people

Consider the following troubling situations.

Only 13% of Afghanistan has access to clean water. There are some areas in Afghanistan where water is scarce as a resource, but for the most part, the problem is caused by inadequate infrastructure. With the country in turmoil from war, clean water is desperately needed.

Only 11% of the population in Ethiopia has access to clean sanitation. As a result, the country has a frightening infant mortality rate (77 out of 1,000), significant health problems, and poor education. The task of securing water falls primarily on women and children, who must trek exceedingly long distances to find water.

In Cambodia, 84% of the population does not have access to clean water or sanitation. Even though monsoons often dump massive amounts of water, this water is quickly contaminated due to poor infrastructure and a lack of proper technology. Until the country has access to clean water, the population will continue to rely on rainwater for their water supply, even though it is not safe or clean.

In Haiti, 20% of the population does not have access to a clean toilet and 50% of people lack access to clean water. The massive earthquake in 2010, in conjunction with soil erosion and a lack of water treatment facilities, has caused an ongoing water crisis.

The point is simply this: the residents of these areas must constantly contend with the challenge of finding clean drinking water. They cannot simply stop drinking water.

Water Fact #4 – Children are hardest hit by unclean water

One of the saddest realities of unsafe, unclean water is that children are hit the hardest. UNICEF estimates that approximately 1,000 children die every day due to diarrhea diseases, most of which could be prevented simply through access to clean water. A child dies every 90 seconds from a water-related disease.

Diarrhea, which is easily preventable with clean water, is the 3rd leading cause of child death, a majority of which are water-related.

Some 161 million children suffer from stunting, or chronic malnutrition, much of which is directly tied to unsafe, unclean drinking water.

Sanjay Wijesekera, global head of UNICEF’s water, sanitation and hygiene programme, says:

If 90 school buses filled with kindergartners were to crash every day, with no survivors, the world would take notice. But this is precisely what happens every single day because of poor water, sanitation and hygiene.

Every day, women and children spend approximately 125 million hours gathering water. This burden typically falls heaviest on women and girls, who spend up to 6 hours per day trying to find water for their families.

In Asia and Africa, women and children walk approximately 3.7 miles per day just to locate water.

 Water Fact #5 – Progress is occurring…slowly

Now for some good news: progress is being made in giving more people access to clean drinking water. Since 1990, 2.6 billion people have been given access to clean water, raising the global percentage to 91%. And, thankfully, that number is still growing every year. For example, in Sub-Saharan Africa (one of the worst areas for unclean water), 427 million have gained access to clean water since 1990.

There has also been progress in decreasing the number of children hurt by unsafe water. The number of children dying every day from diarrhoeal diseases has been cut in half over the past 15 years, from 2,000 to 1,000.

Unfortunately, the model for progress starts with the wealthiest people first. As Sanjay Wijesekera says:

What the data really show is the need to focus on inequalities as the only way to achieve sustainable progress. The global model so far has been that the wealthiest move ahead first, and only when they have access do the poorest start catching up. If we are to reach universal access to sanitation by 2030, we need to ensure the poorest start making progress right away.

Additionally, many countries still accept, and even encourage behaviors that contaminate drinking water, such as open defecation. Furthermore, those in rural areas (7 out of 10) tend to have less access to clean water compared to those in urban areas (9 out of 10).

Yes, progress is being made, and we should be thankful for that progress. But it is also crucial that we continue to push forward clean water initiatives.

Conclusion

Clean water is both an essential human right and essential for life. Those with access to clean, safe water have markedly improved lives compared to those who don’t. The water problems in Flint, Michigan have given us in the United States a tiny glimpse into the everyday struggles so many face.

Manoj Bhargava said:

People with water-borne diseases occupy more than 50% of hospital beds across the world. Does the answer lie in building more hospitals? Really, what is needed is to give them clean water.

Our mission at Business Connect is to, “…give hope to the impoverished by creating employment, in the marketing of life enhancing products, within a business model that is sustainable and environmentally balanced.”

One of the ways we do that is by helping people gain access to clean water.

Women Empowerment Through Water

A huge number of individuals live in abject poverty due to absence of clean water sources. Regularly, the water sources that are accessible are dirtied and are found exceptionally far away. In developing nations, the task of water collection tumbles on women and young ladies.

Frequently, the women and young ladies put in hours a day flying out to gather water to address their family’s issues. As this assignment is so tedious, they are frequently not able to complete their training, concentrate on local obligations and find other openings for work. Having admittance to spotless, close-by water sources engages ladies to enhance their fates and to bring their families and groups out of neediness.

Education enables ladies to enhance their prospects and the eventual fate of their communities. As per The World Bank, young ladies’ education is fundamental in “the lessening of child and maternal mortality, change of child sustenance and wellbeing … upgrade of ladies’ residential part and… change of the monetary efficiency and development… “.Many young ladies don’t have time for learning since they are expected to gather water day by day for their family’s ordinary needs. Having a nearby water supply enables them to spare time for studying.

Programs like the One Safe Drop Initiative by Africaqua that integrates high-end technological innovations in the water value chain to convey safe drinking water nearer to people living in arid and semi-arid areas have done a lot of favors to women and ladies. They do not need to go for a considerable length of time a day to gather the water for their families. They have more opportunity to take a shot at their learning to enhance prospects for their fates and that of their families and communities.

With nearer water supplies, ladies have additional time in the residential setting. While at home, the additional time allows them to better deal with their families and to enhance the general wellbeing and sustenance of their families. With enhanced wellbeing, these families can cooperate to build up their communities and enhance their prospects and enhance the lives of future generations.

With the additional time, ladies are given more room to work outside home to acquire additional salary for their families. This additional wage can be utilized to enhance their lives and those of their families by giving them better money related access to medical services, training, and nourishment.

Africaqua is engaging ladies in its water value chain by making sure that they actively participate in the production, marketing and distribution of safe drinking water. This is enabling them to participate in the economic development of the country as they also alleviate poverty among themselves and community at large. This will make them feel as part of a larger society.

Shillings 50 was all I needed to end the long time stomach problem-Janet

Inadequate access to affordable safe drinking water is a something that has made life unbearable for millions of people in Kenya. It is a situation that has widened the gap between people in different social circles. Some families have been reduced to beggars, depending on the well up families for survival. This has rendered less human beings, defying the common belief among people and teachings in the Christian doctrine that human beings are equal.

More than 17 million Kenyans have no access to safe drinking water. They depend on water from rivers, dams, wells and boreholes located miles away which is mostly not safe for human consumption. In some parts of the country, women and children have to trek for over 10 kilometers to access these limited water sources. This has had a great impact on their social life as they have no time to interact among themselves. As some people get detached from their social circles, they forget about their traditions and culture.

The larger population of those who are unable to get access to safe drinking water are mainly the rural and urban. They are left with no choice other than drinking water that is within their reach which is usually contaminated. Their suffering begins immediately they take the water. They experience stomach problems as a result of water related infections. Hospitals become their regular visiting places with doctors at times not being able to diagnose the exact cause of stomach problems.

A lot of money is usually paid to hospitals to offset medical bills for patients suffering from water related infections including cholera, diarrhea and typhoid. Sometimes, the patients majority of whom are children and women lose battle to the infections. Grief, sorrow and regrets befall the bereaved. Loss of a loved one is the most stressful thing that is difficult to come to terms with, especially when death could have been prevented.

The predicament has hit major parts of the country especially the arid areas and slums. Cry of the people is so much that anyone can hear it although some of the institutions and individuals expected to respond seems not to be interested to listen. People are living in abject poverty; not even being able to afford two meals per day, not being able to seek proper medication at the appropriate time. People need to be helped out of the situation and it is possible.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon once said,” Saving our planet, lifting people out of poverty, advancing economic growth…these are one and the same fight. We must connect the dots between climate change, water scarcity, energy shortages, global health, food security and women’s empowerment. Solutions to one problem must be solutions for all”.

Africaqua and water.org have proved beyond reasonable doubts that it is indeed true that when one problem is solved, the other problems are also solved. The establishment of a network of water shops in arid areas like Kajiado County has already borne fruits. Residents here are now telling a different story of how things are after they started using Africaqua water. The residents meanwhile still hold on to the weird nostalgia of how things were before Africaqua water came to be.

Janet Akoth, a Kimana resident is one of the greatest beneficiaries of Africaqua Kimana water shop. For her, Africaqua water is not like any other water around the area, it has some medicinal values; she calls it “medicine”.

Hers is a story of resilience. A story of hope. She thought her life had hit a deadlock until her doctor advised her to drink Africaqua. This is after experiencing severe stomach problems and abnormal diarrhea that almost dehydrated her body. She had previously sought help from friends who advised her to boil water before drinking it. Every effort to purify the water through traditional methods were in vain. The more water she took, the more her health deteriorated. Doctor came to her rescue when she had lost hope. She never thought that her stomach would be well again.

She had to follow doctor’s instructions since all the other advices and directions from friends bore no fruits. Despite of fear and uncertainty, Janet followed doctor’s instructions to the latter. She walked to Africaqua shop and ordered a jerrycan of safe drinking water.

She came to realize that she only needed Africaqua water to regain her health and strength, a few days after drinking the water. Her stomach problems vanished until today. Even her children and grandchildren who were having the same problems no longer complains. She buys 25 litre jerrycan of safe drinking water per week at only shillings 50. She realized that she only needed shillings 50 to get her stomach healed.

“It was unbelievable! I could not believe that I needed only shillings 50 to cure stomach problems that had posed a great threat to my life. I never thought I would regain my health. Thank you Africaqua for the water. I will always drink it. It is my medicine”, said Janet amid laughter.

Janet no longer treks to collect water or spends time moving from hospital to hospital seeking medication. She has time to be with her kin as well as sufficient time to engage in economic activities to support her family.

Similar stories to Janet’s are being shared by other Kimana and Oloitoktok residents like Margaret and Njoki who also realized that problem was not in their stomachs, but in the water they were using before. They say that their healing costed only shillings 50 and will never go back to drinking water they are not sure of its source.

The moving stories from water shop beneficiaries indicate that ending water shortage nightmare is the way to bring to an end thousands of other challenges facing human kind. Our efforts to provide low income community members with safe drinking water are on the high gear and we will not rest until people get access to affordable water at their doorstep.

                                                                                  *END*

It is the end of tribulations for Kajiado residents

March 2, 2016 will remain historic in the minds of Kimana and Kajiado residents at large, as the day they witnessed a mega event taking place on their soil. People came from far and wide just to be part of the auspicious activity, whose stories will be shared from gen­eration to generation.

Young and old thronged the remote town in rift valley region to witness the proceedings of the rare activity taking place in the town.A convoy of vehicles escorting Water and Irrigation Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa who was the chief guest and other dignitaries awakened the small town. Kajiado County is known for its aridity state, with residents being forced to nomadic form of living. Lack of access to safe drinking water is not some­thing new to residents. Some of them have been used to staying for days without water. The little water available in most of the areas is not fit for human consumption.

In Kimana to be specific, residents rely on water from a seasonal stream located kilometers away from the town and a single water kiosk located at the heart of the town. They share the stream water with their animals, oblivi­ous of the risks they are put their lives into.

Residents here value their animals probably more than themselves. When their animals get water to drink, they consider the problem solved. Jenni­fer Naeku, a mother of three and a native Kimana resident told me that the Maasai community cannot stand watch their animals lose lives to thirst and hunger.

When residents heard of AfricAqua’s intention to set up a water shop where they could access safe drink­ing water easily, their eagerness to see the project operating surpassed any other anticipations. They watched in disbelief as the water shop came to be. They could not imagine drinking safe water that has undergone thorough treatment.

When the launch day finally came, no one and nothing could have prevented them from accessing the project site to witness its official commissioning by the Cabinet Secretary. Every­body was eager to have a sip of the new and sure product in town. Different institutions were represented with Africaqua as the host, ensuring that everything went on as planned. This was not the day for trial and errors.

Our partners (Spring Accelerator, Ekocenter, Water.org and Pentair) who could also not wait to see the idea by Africaqua CEO David Kuria coming to reality could not have afforded to miss this auspicious occasion as well. Their representatives reiterated on the need to have similar projects in other arid and semi-arid areas. They had every reason to be happy, see­ing one of the projects they have been part of from the begin­ning, bringing hope to thousands of deserving Kenyans.

The Cabinet Secretary hailed the move by Africaqua and her partners, urging other private companies to follow suit, say­ing that water scarcity nightmare cannot be left for national government alone to solve.

Today, thousands of Kimana residents have an easy access to safe drinking water at an affordable price. Such benefits will soon be realized by Matuu and Narok residents where similar projects are ongoing.

 

New Dawn for Donkeys as Technology Finally Yields Second Generation Cart

Some call it the beast of burden. They load it with any form of burden. What they care most is to see their load reach destination. They use sticks to beat it, causing damage to its skin. It develops wounds that cause severe pain. They do not bother to get medi­cation for it. What they do not understand or simply ignore is the fact that the animal has its rights; just like human beings. It is commonly referred to as donkey.

It is estimated that there are at least 1.8 million don­keys in Kenya, mostly operating in remote areas. They are used to ferry farm produce, firewood and water especially in arid and semi-arid areas like Kajiado, Machakos, some parts of rift valley region and other areas countrywide.

Although the animals are subjected to very difficult activities under harsh conditions, some of those who use them do not take time to understand what the ani­mals go through. They forget that the animals also have life, they get tired and experience pain when injured especially when they are made to pull an ill conditioned cart.

After an intensive research and analysis of the predicaments don­keys go through in their dairy chores, Africaqua, Water.org, The Donkey Sanctuary, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) among other partners came up with new models of donkey cart (INKUA donkey cart). The designs and fab­rication of the donkey carts was done at JKUAT in the year 2015.

The INKUA donkey cart contest was open to engineering stu­dents in JKUAT and after thorough assessment, the best designs were adopted. The new designs of donkey cart have a lot of improved features that ensure convenience and safety of donkeys while ferrying luggage, in this case water.

March 22, 2016 marked a great breakthrough for donkeys and their users as Water and Irrigation Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa officially launched the new models of donkey cart.Through the donkey cart, Africaqua is determined in ensuring that donkeys ferry water to the required destination using very little energy. The cart is designed in such a way that the load exerts pressure on the axle as opposed to the old donkey cart where the load exerts too much pressure on the donkey’s back. This will make it possible for the donkey to carry water even uphill.

Africaqua believes that nothing should prevent people from get­ting access to safe drinking water. All this is being done in order to improve and make our water value chain different from others. Water will be reaching people at the right time and in its safest state.

Africaqua Water Shop Reprieve for Matuu Residents

By David Mwaura

Canal

Image showing dried up Yatta Canal in Yatta Sub-County. Yatta residents partly depend on this canal for domestic water supply.

Located in Yatta Constituency in Machakos County, Matuu cannot run from the desert state of majority of the areas in Eastern and North Eastern Kenya, where access to water is a nightmare to many. This has threatened every life in the regions, making it difficult for people to lead a normal life.

It is estimated that at least 17 million Kenyans lack easy access to safe drinking water. The number could be a bit higher, bearing in mind that most of the people living in Eastern, North Eastern and some parts of Rift Valley region have no access to safe drinking water. Matuu residents are among the estimated number. The residents have to struggle a lot to access safe drinking water.

The residents primarily depend on a water shop located at Kivandini market. This water comes from Tana-Athi water services board. There are very few people whose homes are connected to piped water and therefore, those who cannot collect the water from water shop rely on water deliveries from water vendors.

My interaction with the residents reveals that people are in dire need of reliable safe drinking water. Jackson Mbithi, one of the water vendors tells me that the water shop by Tana-Athi water services board is not reliable since it at times run out of the commodity, forcing people to resort to other sources of water like the borehole at the P.C.E.A Matuu whose water is salty.

“I cannot say that we have a reliable safe water source around this area. We depend on this water shop. Sometimes the water shop run out of the commodity, bringing frustrations to hundreds of people who queue here at every single moment”.

Water from the church borehole contains too much salts, making it unsuitable for drinking. Residents therefore have to brace scorching sun and dust trekking, just to get drinking water from wells located far away from the town. The wells are also not reliable since they regularly run out of this vital commodity.

Jerricans

Jerricans filled with water ready for sale at water vendors’ bay in Matuu town. The jerricans are not hygienically fit to hold drinking water.

Although the water vendors supply drinking water to residents, the jerricans they use are not in good conditions and this poses a threat to water users. The vendors use the same jerricans to collect water from different sources. Charles Maina, another water vendor explains to me why they use the same jerricans to collect water.

“We do not have money to buy extra jerricans. Remember that this is business and we have to make something out of it. We meanwhile “clean” the jerricans every time we are refilling them”, Maina explains.

He also goes ahead to tell me that getting water from different water sources is a great challenge because they have to make very long queues and therefore, they rarely get time to clean the jerricans. Africaqua water shop that will ensure a reliable supply of safe drinking water is therefore the best solution for the Matuu residents.

Water vendors and the general public will not be subjected to long queuing because water will always be ready in jerricans, meaning that they will only be required to pick the filled jerricans and leaving the empty ones for refill. This will minimize time wasting at the water shop, ensuring that people get water at the right time. The jerricans will also be in good condition reducing chances of water related infections among the residents.

Photo: Courtesy

Enhancement of Proper Sanitation is a Collective Role

The recent report on the study of predictors of open defecation among residents in the 47 counties in Kenya is probably the most devastating item one can spend time reading. The report has indicated that, out of the 47 counties, 15 of them have open defecation rates of more than 40 percent; about 5.6 million Kenyans engaging in the risky practice. The research also found out that, Turkana leads in the open defecation rates with over 88.4 percent of residents using open defecation.

The most shameful part of the findings is that, predictors of open defecation are issues that could be easily. According to John Njuguna and Charles Muruka; the forces behind this study, high poverty levels and culture among other factors contribute to an increase in the open defecation practices.

Open defecation involves people relieving themselves in bushes, water bodies and other open fields. This is a very bad habit, bearing in mind the health risk the practice poses to people. Poor sanitation usually plunges community members into a state of vulnerability to dangerous infections like cholera and diarrhea.

According to the report by Njuguna and Muruka; disabled people, girls and women are the most vulnerable to open defecation repercussions. This means that they stand a higher chance to contract diseases caused by poor sanitation practices. Women also have to put up with gender based violence in their aim to get sanitary facilities.

As expressed by World Health Organization (WHO), open defecation which is a great health hazard is a global sanitation crisis being practiced by over one billion people globally. The most heartbreaking news is that, the practice continues to gain popularity in sub-Saharan Africa while as its decreases in the developed countries.

Faecal matter dropped in water sources contaminates the water, leaving people to consume unsafe water. This exposes people to water related infections like cholera, diarrhea and hepatitis A. The researchers indicate that poor sanitation in most of the African countries lead to increased mortality rate, with a child dying every two and a half minutes.

High poverty levels have contributed to the rise in the open defecation practices and hence poor sanitation among poor community members. To properly handle this matter and decrease the open defecation practices, every stakeholder in the environment, water and health sectors should take position and handle this matter from all the dimensions.

It is time for citizens to be included in the development programs to ensure that they get enough money to support themselves and also invest in sanitation mechanisms. Through this, we will be able to fight challenges posing threat to their lives. There is no human life that is worth losing to preventable diseases like cholera and diarrhea.

Although Kenya is among the developing countries, the study report is not something to please anyone. As a country, we have to accept that there is a serious problem threatening our lives and explore on the ways to deal with the problem once and for all. The report should be a wakeup call to the government, private sectors and Kenyans at large to get out of the comfort zones and chart the way forward.

Forums to sensitize people on the need to enhance proper sanitation should be set up in different parts of the country. People should be educated on the health risks of open defecation and be empowered with resources to facilitate proper sanitation mechanisms.

National, county governments and private sectors should join hands to ensure that sanitation facilities are improved in both rural and urban areas. Modern sanitation facilities like toilets should be constructed near people and be trained on how to use them. This will help to reduce the number of people using open defecation.

Access to safe drinking water should also be made possible to ensure that the water being consumed by everyone is not contaminated. Water treatment and testing should be made mandatory before any amount of water is consumed. The exercise should be carried out across the country without any discrimination.

We should not just sit back, relax and assume that everything is okay when preventable diseases like cholera and hepatitis A continue to rob us of our loved ones. If we will manage to deal with sanitation challenges, then more than half of the viral diseases killing our people would be put off.

 

Africaqua BCtA Membership Press Release

Africaqua BCtA Membership Press Release

Nairobi, June 30, 2016 /3BL Media/

AfricAqua, a social enterprise focused on innovative solutions for delivering clean water to low-income communities, joined the Business Call to Action (BCtA) with a commitment to provide 20,000 Kenyans with access to safe drinking water through 100 Watershop water outlets. These ‘water malls’ are expected to employ 200 young adults as distributors and offer entrepreneurship opportunities to community members offering related products and services.

The BCtA is a global initiative that aims to support private sector efforts to fight poverty through its core business. It is supported by several international organizations and hosted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

AfricAqua’s inclusive One Safe Drop initiative is introducing a novel concept of clean-water delivery to areas of Kenya without access to safe drinking water. Throughout the country, demand for clean water is so high that existing water-delivery mechanisms cannot keep up. AfricAqua’s innovative distribution model involves establishing community water hubs, which not only provide safe, treated water (with water-quality results available to consumers), but incorporate space for pharmacists, solar, health and hygiene products as well as water-related merchandise.

According to David Kuria, founder and Chief Executive Officer of AfricAqua, “In the Post-2015 era, access to clean drinking water, sanitation and hygiene for households, schools and health facilities is of critical importance. But this can only happen by bringing clean water the last mile to poor communities. AfricAqua’s One Safe Drop initiative aims to tackle this challenge while providing local employment and entrepreneurship opportunities. We are pleased that our efforts have been recognized by the Business Call to Action.”

In Kenya, clean water is scarce and most people cannot afford home-treatment systems. Epidemics of diarrhea, cholera and parasitic worms have severely impacted poor communities as a result of contaminated water sources and unsanitary water collection and consumption equipment. Supplies of treated water are constrained by challenges with distribution – especially to the low-income communities who face the direst need. With continued population growth, it is estimated that by 2025, Kenya’s per capita water availability will be approximately two thirds less than it is now. Unless the distribution gap is addressed, this will have serious consequences on public health and the nation’s economy.

AfricAqua aims to bridge this gap by adapting services to the specific needs of each community and developing public-private partnerships that facilitate efficiency, innovation and delivery. In addition to bringing 20,000 people safe water and other critical services by 2020, AfricAqua’s One Safe Drop initiative will provide clean water to health centers and schools.

The company’s inclusive business model was informed by Ikotoilet, a social enterprise that incorporated snack shops, showers and money-transfer services along with sanitation services. AfricAqua’s One Safe Drop initiative has adopted a flexible approach, offering clean water both at Watershops (where reverse-osmosis treatment takes place) and kiosks throughout densely populated areas. This flexibility not only makes AfricAqua’s business model sustainable and scalable, but provides much-needed employment opportunities for local youth as water distributors and affiliated shopkeepers.

“Beyond affordable access to safe water, this simple but innovative model has the potential to transform the health, economies and education outcomes of the communities it serves,” said Paula Pelaez, Programme Manager of the BCtA. “We welcome AfricAqua’s membership to the Business Call to Action.”

AfricAqua’s first Water shops in Kajiado, Machakos and Narok are now being piloted along with community water kiosks; these communities were chosen because of their acute demand. AfricAqua has provided communities members in these locations with 1 litre, 10 Litre, 20 litre and 25 litre reusable cans for easy water collection, and disinfects the cans each time they are refilled. With Kenya’s significant demand, the company has committed to scale up to 100 Watershops by the end of 2020 and expects to break even within five years of operation. This dramatic expansion is being made possible by partnerships with Government of Kenya, Water.org and Coca Cola among others, which are providing financing as well as technical assistance and expertise in business innovation and growth.