Water Scarcity in Africa

Water scarcity also referred to as lack of safe drinking water is one of the world’s leading problems that face more than 1.1 billion people globally. This simply means that at least one in every six people does not have access to safe drinking water.

World Health Organization defines safe drinking water as the water with microbial, chemical and physical properties that meet the WHO national standards of drinking water quality. On average, every person’s access to water should meet a threshold of 1700 cubic meters to be used in agriculture, industrial and energy production among other uses.

Due to high population growth rates in the majority of African countries, the population-to-water equation has not been able to balance normally. This has made many people to experience either moderate or severe water scarcity challenges. If the water availability threshold per person is at 1 000 cubic meters, this is the state referred to as water scarcity while any threshold below 500 cubic meters is termed as the state of acute water scarcity.

Sadly, millions of Africans especially the ones living in the Sub-Sahara region experience water scarcity stress with majority of them being not even able to access water for several days. The saddest thing is that, the condition is expected to get even worse and by 2030, at least 75 to 250 million people will be facing severe water stress. Water scarcity expose people to among other risks health complications.

On average, a normal human being may survive for between 3-5 days without water. If the state of complete water scarcity persists, one has no chances to continue living. This makes people to turn to any available water irrespective of its safety. Drinking of dirty water risks people health as it exposes them to waterborne disease infections.

Diseases like cholera, dysentery, trachoma, diarrhea among other killer diseases have been on the rise in African countries mainly because there is lack of sophisticated mechanisms to treat drinking water. This is unlike in the developed countries where there are proper mechanisms to treat and store water.

Water scarcity highly affects children education because they are forced to join their parents in the hunt for water instead of being in school. As a long term effect, water shortage lead to a slowdown in the development process as many people do not engage in other productive roles apart from water collection. With this state of water scarcity in African countries, the number of poor people will continue to rise.

The water project initiatives like the one by Africaqua will be the only way people will manage to pull themselves out of the jaws of poverty. The project targets people living in arid and semi-arid areas to ensure that they get easy access to safe drinking water at a price they can afford.

The initiative will enable beneficiaries to utilize more time in development activities rather than collecting water. The number of people suffering from waterborne diseases will also reduce gradually.

Let’s take advantage of the massive runoff by collecting it

From Turkana to Tiaty, Nairobi to Nakuru, effects of the ongoing heavy rainfall that has pounded the country over the last two months have been intense. Houses have collapsed, vehicles swept by massive run offs as landslides torment residents of the peaceful Murang’a County. The weatherman has announced that the heavy rains might hit the country for a little while, something that has obviously not been received well by millions of Kenyans.

Today, cold shivers are sent down the spines of everyone when clouds begin to form. People are worried because they do not know what the rains might bring forth. For those working in town like Nairobi, they have to rush home as early as possible to avoid being denied access to their residential areas by the merciless water flooding Nairobi roads.

The heavy rains have already made some people homeless, others lost their lives somehow defying the common saying “Water is Life”, as others fight for their lives in hospitals following injuries rendered to them by the collapsed walls and buildings.

It will meanwhile be very sad if we will allow the runoff to go untamed and later complain about water shortage once the rains dwindle. Places like Turkana known for its aridity state is nowadays experiencing massive runoffs. The water is being allowed to flow freely as the soil has already taken more than enough of it.

As a country that knows what people go through during the dry season, we should not allow the water to flow uncollected. It is necessary for the government with the help of private companies device on the ways to collect the water, purify it and make it ready for use in the future.

Large dams can work well for places like Turkana where farming activities are very rare. If a few dams can be prepared, it will make it easier for the runoff to be collected and properly treated for use.

Even though the rains have a lot of negative effects to millions of Kenyans, we should be ready to take advantage of it to save our future. No matter how much people complain, the rain will go on and it will only make sense to us if we save enough of the water for future use.

Kenya has enough experts and resources to manage the runoff in different parts of the country and there is therefore no excuse for not collecting the storing enough water for the future. The want can be used to irrigate crops, used at homes as well as well water the ever thirsty livestock in the arid areas.

This will also help in saving the large amounts of money government spends on buying food to feed the hunger stricken communities. The money can be used to facilitate development programs.

David Mwaura, Communications Manager, Africaqua Limited.

Africaqua joins the UNDP Business Call to Action Initiative

Africaqua has gotten the nod to join the United Nations Development Programme Business Call to Action (BCtA) initiative, a confirmation made by Sahba Sobhani initiative’s officer.

The approval is as a result of the company’s commitment and participation in the inclusive and sustainable business initiatives at the Base of the Pyramid (BoP).

This comes days after the company launched its pilot water project in Kimana, Kajiado County, a project that is already benefiting residents with safe drinking water to community members and employment to the youth.

Africaqua now joins other companies in the world which are BCtA members, to enhance livelihoods of low income people through engaging them in the production, distribution and consumption of products. This is a long term goal of changing lives of millions of people.

The company through its One Safe Drop Initiative has already employed at least 20 youth in its different sections and aims at raising the number to 200 by the end of year 2017. This will be possible, especially with the 100 water shops expected to be established in rural and urban Kenya by the end of year 2017.

Rekindled hopes

 

AfricAqua Kimana Water Project in Kajiado County. The project is now serving thousands of people with safe drinking water.

Water is probably the scarcest of all the basic commodities people need for survival, leaving them with too costly decisions to make. It is one of the commodities provided by nature, but unfortunately, nature has not been “fair” enough to distribute it evenly. This has made some people to easily access the commodity while others have to struggle too much to get it. The communities lacking easy access to water usually have sad stories to narrate. Sometimes, governmental and non-governmental organisations have come in their rescue, changing their story of life. Such is the story of Janet Naisianoi, a mother of three and Kimana resident, who is a major beneficiary of the AfricAqua Kimana Water Project. She narrates her moving story to David Mwaura, AfricAqua Communications Manager.

Kimana is the place I have known to be my home for the last 28 years. I was born here, partially educated here and married here. When I talk about partial education, you definitely know what I mean. My community does not put a lot of emphasis on education especially for the girl child although things are now changing.

After my basic education that abruptly ended at class three when my father decided that the knowledge I had was enough, I started doing homestead chores as outlined in our traditions. I had to start playing the woman roles, with some of them being cumbersome for a girl of my age.

As you can see for yourselves, this is a very dry area receiving very little rainfall per year. Whatever you can see today is the same thing you could have seen twenty years ago. Nothing much has changed since then. Sun is very hot here. You can feel it properly. So, even after the short rains most of the open rain water collection points dry after some few days. This usually make peoples’ lives very difficult.

Donkeys used to ferry water in Kimana.

Donkeys used to carry water in Kimana, Kajiado County. AfricAqua has come up with a donkey cart that will make it easier for donkeys to ferry water.

Costly decisions

As a little girl in her tender age, I had to accompany my mother and sisters to a stream five kilometers from my parent’s home. With a 20 liter jerrican of water, journey to and fro the stream got tougher day by day. I did not have much energy to do the hard task, because of my age and hunger as well. Meanwhile, I did not have an option, I needed water and I therefore had to find some energy to do the hard task.

Although the stream water was not safe for drinking, we had to quench thirst with it. No one could ever thought otherwise. We knew that the water was dirty but thirst could not have allowed us to think of chances of getting waterborne infections. We had to make the costly decision of drinking the water. We were survivors anyway.

When I attained a marriageable age, I was married off to a man in our neighborhood. This is the time the reality of challenges associated with being a woman and more specifically a wife to somebody struck me. It is also at this point when I fully realized how water scarcity problem can make one live a difficult life.

Being a wife, I had to make sure that there is enough water for use in that house. I had to do this single handedly unlike at my parent’s house where I did it with my mother and sisters. I had to wake up very early in the morning to go to the same stream I used to go during my old days. I had to make several trips to the stream and I therefore had to brave the scorching sun and rough roads. Life became even harder when motherhood knocked. I had to manage time for my kids and for water collection. Life became harder and harder making me to call unto God all the time to provide me with a nearer source of water.

AfricAqua semi collapsible jerricans filled with water at the AfricAqua Kimana Water Shop.

Prayer answered

Today, I feel very happy because my prayer has been answered. I prayed to God for a nearer water source but He has done more than that. There is now a nearer source of water but not only water, but safe drinking water.

When I heard of AfricAqua’s plan of initiating the water project, I never thought it would come to be. In fact I rubbished it as a mere joke. Although I have been hopeful of such a thing happening, I never thought time for it had come. I had to go to the site when the construction and water abstraction began to witness the great works of God.

When the project’s water started selling, I was among the first people to buy it. To my surprise, I only had to make an order and water was delivered immediately. I thought I was dreaming until I made an order some few days later and delivery made as well.

AfricAqua CEO David Kuria (Right) with Water and Irrigation CS Eugene Wamalwa during the World Water Day, 2016 at Mirera Primary School on 22nd March, 2016.

AfricAqua CEO David Kuria(Right) with Water and Irrigation Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa unveiling the AfricAqua Kimana Water Shop plaque during the Shop’s launch on 2nd March, 2016.  

Changed life

I now feel like a heavy burden has been dropped from my shoulders. I can now get easy access to safe drinking water. For the first time, I have water for drinking and for performing other domestic operations.

Life have changed for myself and my family since the start of this project. I now do not have to worry about the water I am drinking together with my kids since it is a product that has been tested and proven to be healthy for human consumption.

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AfricAqua tuktuk being loaded with water ready to be delivered to customers.

Currently, I get enough time to associate with my friends and engage in other important activities to improve on the living conditions of my family. There is no more trekking to the stream. This water is now making me feel like a Kenyan living in a country that is celebrating over 50 years of independence. The water is cheap, with the value of the money spent being attached to the high quality of the commodity.

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Water and Irrigation Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa (With Microphone) officially launches the AfricAqua 2nd Generation donkey cart during the world water day, 2016 celebrations in Naivasha. He urged people continue coming up with more inventions to help in solving water problem.

I wish to sincerely thank the AfricAqua Limited and partners for remembering us when we least expected it to happen. I would also request the company to consider extending its operations to other deserving areas to supply people with safe drinking water.

AfricAqua 2nd Generation donkey cart. It was officially commissioned by Water and Irrigation Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa on 22nd March, 2016. It will help in convenient water supply using donkeys.

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This is just one of the many stories being shared by Kimana residents. Although Janet requested not to be taken any photo, I found it necessary to share her impressive story.

 

 

 

 

 

Opinion: Cholera, a common problem demanding for a collective responsibility to curb

I have been very reluctant to join in the ongoing debate on the cholera endemic that has hit more than half of Kenya. I have not failed to join in the discussion because I am assuming like nothing is going on, but it is because of the agony the reports and discussions bring to me.

Reading articles on the deaths and pain the disease has inflicted in the hearts of innocent Kenyans takes me aback. How can thousands of people succumb to illnesses that we can control? Now, feeling like a stakeholder in the water sector, unwillingly joins the conversation, with much pain in my heart.

We are living in the 21st century where every Kenyan should at least have easy access to safe water. This is something that has not been established despite the fact that the country has the capacity to do it.

Report by the ministry of health indicates that at least 216 people have succumbed to cholera since June last year. This is now the number that has been reported. I believe that there are many other deaths that were not reported. This is very shameful to a country bragging to be independent for more than 50 years.

The country is trying to device ways to tackle killer diseases like cancer and diabetes that are taking off our beloved friends and relatives. If we cannot manage a disease like cholera, then I am worried that we might not be able to manage cancer and the rest.

Our country Kenya is very rich with resources adequate for every Kenyan to enjoy life. What needs to be done is just to exploit the resources fully. Cholera is a disease that can be controlled through proper hygiene measures and access to safe drinking water by communities.

There are some areas in this country where water table is near the surface and hence abstracting it for people to use is very easy. This is something that can be done through partnerships between governments, both at national level and county level with private sectors. If the partnership is enhanced, then I can say without any doubts that we will have frustrated the disease outbreak and spread.

If we can manage to treat and take care of thousands of cholera patients, each one of them spending a minimum of Shillings 2000, how then can we say that we cannot prevent outbreak of the disease? Prevention is better than care. We have no reason to sit back and watch as we spend millions of shillings to treat the disease instead of using the money to come up with measures to control it.

Kenya is for all of us and we need to join hands; private and public sectors to ensure that every Kenyan has ample access to safe drinking water. If we manage to tackle the water problem, then the other hygiene measures like proper handling of food, fruits and anything else going to the stomach will follow.

Let us stop pointing fingers at each other because cholera is a common problem that affects all of us. Let us take responsibility and say no to more cholera infections.

David Mwaura, Communications Manager; AfricAqua Limited   

The Scary Term

AfricAqua C.E.O David Kuria (Right) helps Water and Irrigation Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa fill a semi collapsible jerrican with water, during the Kimana Water Center launch.

AfricAqua C.E.O David Kuria (Left) helps Water and Irrigation Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa fill a semi collapsible jerrican, during the Kimana Water Shop launch.

Water is a term that usually send shivers down the spine of many people whenever it is mentioned. It is a term that not many people like it when it is mentioned especially during certain periods of the year.

This commodity has been very scarce, not only in Kenya, but also in other countries. Many people have not been able to get access to safe water that they can drink without any fear. This forces them to drink dirty water that is harmful to their bodies.

To some communities, even getting this undrinkable water is a very big challenge. People from Some parts of Asia and Africa have to treck for at least 6 kilometers to get access to this commodity, irrespective of its purity status.

Research has shown that, only about 1% of the world’s water is drinkable. This worries even more because, in some countries like China with a bloated population, nearly 700 million people drink contaminated water. This is the same situation in Kenya where millions of people struggle a lot to access safe drinking water.

We cannot talk about dirty water without mentioning waterborne diseases like cholera. The two work hand in hand, with the later depending on the earlier one. Their relationship is very harmful to any life including that of livestock.

Almost every day, we wake up to sad news of a life or lives that have been lost to cholera. Such news leave us devastated, not knowing what to do next. We are not even sure whether the water we are drinking can also lead to cholera infection. This is a very common occurrence in many parts of the country especially in Nyanza region where vast floods are experienced during heavy rainfall season. Although the heavy rains are associated with certain problems, we still need the rain for water.

Most of the operations at homes and industries depend on water. Remember that any moving machine requires water to cool its engine and this is why the commodity is very vital in factories. At home, water is used for cleaning, cooking, drinking and other operations.

The amount of water used per day in any average home is very high. For example; a normal adult human being should drink at least 8 glasses of water per day, a single flush in an average toilet requires about 6 liters of water. Basically, this means that in an average homestead, at least 40 liters of water are required per day.

As a matter of facts, we all have to agree that there is a problem with much of the available water and then work on a way to ensure that we drink uncontaminated water. World governments and other stakeholders might have tried to supply communities with safe drinking water, but there is still a problem yet to be solved.

To bring this home, AfricAqua in partnership with governmental and non-governmental bodies has a determination of ensuring that every community member in Kenya and Africa has easy access to safe drinking water. This is an ongoing process with projects having already been established in Kimana, Narok and Matuu. This is a long term goal to solve the water problem.

AfricAqua Kimana Water Centre; The Symbol of Hope for Oloitoktok/Kimana Residents

The AfricaAqua Kimana Water Shop.

The AfricaAqua Kimana Water Centre during its construction stage.

Our last tour in Oloitoktok, Kajiado county ended in Ngama; a small center located a few kilometers from Kenya-Tanzania border. You remember I told you about the water scarcity nightmare being experienced by residents in the whole of Oloitoktok region. If you were keen enough, you can remember that I promised to come back to Oloitoktok and this time round, not to do a research on the state of water in this area . I hinted out of an upcomig project aimed at addressing the water scarcity problem in this district. Everything has now been finalized and I have come back through the same route I used last time, since I am not privy to any other route.

Brains have been working tirelessly days and nights and have at last found a solution to the water problem for the whole of the Oloitoktok district and neighbouring areas. Local leaders, AfricAqua and EKOCENTRE have been working closely to ensure that water challenge in this area is handled once and for all. There is a new ‘thing’ that has been constructed and it will serve this deserving community with safe drinking water.

Today, we have come to officailly launch the project; The Oasis. Remember that during our previous tour, we found out that Oloitoktok is an arid area. People from all walks of life have travelled from far and wide to witness the ground-breaking event as Oloitoktok residents get reprieve from water scarcity menace. Water and Irrigation Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa is also present. This tells you how important the water centre is important to everyone.

The Oasis has been set up in Kimana. Remember I told you that Kimana is only a few kilometers from Oloitoktok and hence one of the towns in Oloitoktok district. Preparations are on and everything has been set for the big day. Community members; young and elderly and guests have started thronging into the water centre. They could not have afforded to miss this auspicious occasion . History is being made here.

Earlier on, I had held some interviews to know what people are saying about the new born project in Kimana, Oloitoktok. Looking at the faces of people, you can tell how excited people are with this project. Jennifer Semeyian, a Kimana resident and a mother of four could not hide her joy. She started celebrating long before the project was officially lunched. She told me that life used to be difficult because even getting drinking water for herself has been hectic. She lives a few meters from the project site and therefore a big beneficiary of the AfricAqua Kimana water project.

She told me that she now orders for both raw and treated water from the water centre and deliveries are done at the approproiate time, unlike before when she could have waited for almost a whole day for the commodity to be delivered by vendors operating within the town.

AfricAqua Kimana Water Centre ready to be launched officially.

AfricAqua Kimana Water Centre ready to be launched officially.

Her sentiments were shared by Joyce Naisenya, who said that her life has completely changed since she started using the AfricAqua water. For Joyce, the water center is a beacon of hope for herself and other community members. She could not hide her happiness while explaining to me the difference between her past and the present life. She told me that for the first time in her life, she has been able to access the safest drinking water at a price she can afford.

“I feel like God himself has landed in Kimana. I cannot believe that I can now afford to drink water without fear of being infected with waterborne diseases. For the first time, I can say this is drinking water and this is water for other domestic uses. The water is cheap and of very high quality. A big thank you to AfricAqua for remembering us. We thought everyone forgot about us,”said Joyce amid laughter.

From the interviews, I can confirm that the residents are very excited with the project. It is the greatest gift they have received after their long wait. They can now enjoy the new developments in the area. Their language has now changed. Everyone is now talking about safe water availability.

School pupils and students are lined up to perform for the guests in attendance. All their presentations are on water and AfricAqua. It is evident that AfricAqua through CEO David Kuria and Coca-Cola’s EKOCENTRE has touched the lives of the Oloitoktok residents. This is painted all over their faces.

The water from the site undergoes filtration and reverse osmosis to ensure that even the minor traces of impurities are removed before it is conveyed to the community for use. Joyce Nduta, the project manager takes us through the whole process of water treatment. She has such a voice you cannot afford to stop listening to. Her eloquence and choice of words makes us stare at her, nodding our heads in agreement with everything she says.

“Our water is very safe for drinking since after abstraction, it has to go through a large scale water treatment process. The process of filtration and reverse osmosis takes place to make sure that when it comes out through that tap ( a tap at the far corner inside the water centre), one can comfortably drink it without any fear. Our water treatment system is a combination of advanced technologies as you can see. I have a team of dedicated and hardworking young people who help in packaging and delivery of this vital commodity to people who place an order with us.

” We package our water in 25 litre and 10 litre jerricans ready for delivery to our customers. We use tuktuks to do door to door delivery of the commodity. Everyone therefore has a chance to access this commodity irrespective of their areas of residence.”

From my interaction with Joyce, I can note that everything she is talking about is “safe water”, “safe water” and “safe water”. She cannot complete a sentence without mention safe water. This is what the AfricAqua is offerign to the community.

AfricAqua CEO David Kuria is the happiest man of the century after seeing his dream come true. It started with an idea that has now yielded a massive project that everyone is now talking about. The project will definitely save thousands of lives in the region and neighboring areas . History has been made in Oloitoktok.

There is a wise saying that goes like, ‘water is life’. Oloitoktok residents now understand the proverb properly. Lives have been liberated. Community members now have hope to live. Everyone can now afford a smile.The community is now enjoying the fruits of its patience.

I have kept the promise I made.